Monday, November 26, 2007

Change it, keep on changing...

One damn fine read of a morning is The Law West of Ealing Broadway which is written by an erstwhile anonymous magistrate and which, every now and again slips in a moan about Government cost cutting and interference in the court system and the criminal justice system as a whole - and long live his right to moan about Government fook-ups.

I have a couple of friends who are life-long civil servants in the court system, nice lads, old friends, I've known them for forty years, I've room shared with them both even accidently slept with one of them once but we'll gloss over that bit...

...the point is that they both hold senior civil service positions in the courts and whenever we gather in a pub somewhere then they both inevitably huddle together and speak of cost cutting, reorganisation, missives from on high, and horror of horrors - threats to the one thing that is held dear to the hearts of all civil servants, their final salary pension scheme - "its the only reason we do the job" they argue, unconvincingly.

I myself have seen this desire for the Civil Service to morph itself into something different, although not necessarily something better, every two or three years.

Around ten years ago we negotiated a deal with the Employment Service to provide some of our equipment to all of the job centres in Yorkshire, and there were a lot of them, word of this spread to other areas of the country and we ended up with a decent sized contract supplying up to two hundred of the job centres, a very nice little earner as we like to say.

At the time the job centres and benefits offices were two completely seperate domains and HM Government carried the double-bubble overheads of having two offices in each town, one for unemployment benefit dispersal, one for employment seekers, who just happened to be the same people.

It made sense to amalgamate the two and a couple of years later they did just that, not actually saving any civil service expense on the way as they didn't actually make anyone redundant or lose office space overhead, they just moved two offices into another one that was double the size in each town, but it meant even more work for us so why did we care, it was only our money that they were spending after all.

Eventually they stopped using our equipment when some bright spark in their IT department suggested that they could do exactly the same function from each persons desktop pc, there were glaring security issues for not doing that at all, but it was a percieved cost saving so they dropped us, we now handle just a handfull of the job centres, the ones with the enlightened managers who realise that they can't rely on the glorified spreadsheet that alll the other offices use mainly because anyone can enter anything on screen and make it look like they are entitled to overtime and or flexi-leave (usually both).

And because we still deal with them and because we have dealt with them for over ten years we are well used to the annual merry-go-round of their accounts office being re-organised - they used to pay all of their suppliers via their local office, then it moved to a regional office in Leeds, then it moved to another regional office in Sheffield, then it moved to a national office in Cardiff, then it moved back to another regional office not in Leeds or Sheffield, this year its back to the local office, but sometimes its also Cardiff - its confusing for us, it must be a right ball-ache for them.

And thats the crux of all of this rant - Government expenditure on administration and their constant quest to do it differnetly depending on which crazy methodology this years consultants have come up with, methodology which often reverts back to the way they did things five years ago.

It must "do your head in" if you have to work inside the system.

Don't worry though, its only our money you're spending.


AmberCat said...

The Civil Service is a job creation scheme for Sir Humphrey and his friends.

No one in the civil service ever takes responsibility for a descision.

All descisions are made in meetings so no one is ever responsible.

I like the episode of Yes prime Minister when some professor wanted to introduce the criteria for success and failure whaen launching a new project.

I would go one step further and appoint the person responsible.

But, you know how it would work. Just before the shit hits the fan the project would either be cancelled or the incompetent project manager would be promoted.

Gary said...

You have inside knowledge then !