One of the discussions I had at Jackie’s party was about government incompetence in IT procurement and management. Gazillions of pounds of our money goes to buy BMWs for “consultants” who I wouldn’t trust to format a floppy disk and the results are exactly as you would expect. Of course poorly thought out and chronically revised specifications don’t help, but there tends to be a common thread to these horror stories: ministers know nothing about IT and civil servants know nothing about IT and the people selling them IT know this. The problem isn’t restricted to the public sector of course. It’s just that the BBC doesn’t do prime time TV reports on network outages at Dorothy Perkins.
I might be tempted to say rude things about Tim Almond‘s choice of development platforms, but he has some sensible things to say about the most recent public sector IT screw up.
Another topic of debate at the gathering was Cherie Blair’s extracurricular activities. I was amused to find myself surrounded by capitalists getting sniffy about a woman who worked her way up from miserable circumstances to become a top barrister trying to make a bit of extra cash. (God knows her guitar-toting hippie husband isn’t maximising his earning potential.) I did point out there were good reasons to have a go at Mrs Blair, but it’s a reflection of their chronic frustration with the durability of her other half that even relatively rational Right-wingers resort to this kind of stuff instead. (It is, in fact, reminiscent of some of the more desperate “sleaze” allegations from the Left during Major’s dying days.) It probably doesn’t help that the Conservatives are currently being led by a man whose idea of intellectual coherence is wearing cufflinks that go with his tie.
Well, I don’t know about that, Pooter Geek. Coordinated gear might be construed as a coordinated mind. No? Well, it was just a thought. Maybe you’re right.
“civil servants know nothing about IT and the people selling them IT know this”
That is probably true of senior civil servants, or the type picked to become the project managers. It’s not always true of the project workers. Sadly, they are often not consulted, or their warnings are ignored because ‘the project must go ahead’.
A lot of the recent IT failures will have been identified as irrecoverable dog’s breakfasts by the people working on or with them early on, if only anyone had thought to listen to them…..
Granted, I was only watching from the sidelines (and then not for very long), but I believe the point I heard made time and again was not that Cherie has made some cash, but that she and the likes of Prescott have somehow been avoiding the repercussions of the same rules which brought down the previous government.
Good meeting you Damian, look forward to being in touch.
The Tony and Cherie Blair discussion was hilarious. Tony needs his own plane!!!
You should publish your XML feed in full, not just summaries, so I can ready our posts in my RSS reader.
Good meeting you too—even if you are half my age and twice as successful. Definitely let’s stay in touch.
I should point out to British readers that Ben is not being ironic here. At the party he pointed out that a typical American reaction to the question of how Tony Blair should get about the planet has been: “The fourth largest economy in the World and its leader time-shares a VC-10? WTF?!”
Other people have said this too, but I have my reasons for keeping things this way…