The broadcaster BSkyB yesterday accused EDS, the US IT outsourcing company, of making a “deliberate, cynical and dishonest” sales pitch for a multi-million-pound contract to build a customer service system.
In one of the largest commercial cases seen in London’s technology and construction court, BSkyB is suing for £709m in damages, claiming EDS failed to comply with contractual obligations undertaken in2000, and that its subsequent performance was “woeful”.
The scale of the claim – which alleges deceit, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract by EDS – contrasts sharply with the value of the original contract, which was £48m. The contract also included a £30m liability cap, but this is overridden because of the allegations of deceit. …
It is also involved in the tax credit scandal.
What relevance does this have to this blog?
EDS is a major supplier to the Government, and it’s one of the eight suppliers to get through the first stage of the Identity Card Scheme procurement process.
The BBC reports that the Comptroller and Auditor General of the National Audit Office, Sir John Bourn, is to retire, although he will continue in his role (NAO press release) as Chair of the Professional Oversight Board of the Financial Reporting Council.
175 lunches and dinners since 2004 with permanent secretaries, directors of big accounting companies and defence contractors at the Ritz, Savoy, Dorchester, Brown’s Hotel, the Goring Hotel, Cipriani, Bibendum, Wiltons, Mirabelle and The Square. The bills, nearly all for two people, vary from £80 to £301. Many of the bills came to between £150 and £220. One bill for four people – two from the NAO – at Wiltons was £500. In the past six months, he has spent £1,651.56 on meals.
Much of it paid by us taxpayers.
As Wat Tyler of BOM wrote (my emphasis in bold),
To those of us intent on the prosecution of government waste, all of this is simply unacceptable. It isn’t just a question of public morality- although God knows, that’s important enough. It’s also the plain fact that to have credibility- to do his job properly- the Auditor General has to be above suspicion.
I hope his replacement lives up to that.
Liberal Democrat MP Mr Hemming asked how many boxes had been bought, at what cost and what tendering process had been used, as part of his campaign to get ministers to answer factual questions.
“It’s quite a serious problem because it’s one of the reasons you end up having so many disasters in government, because they just hide problems rather than getting them fixed.”
He said he wanted to ask all departments the same question to see which would respond.
“The point about this question is the answer is slightly embarrassing because the boxes are quite expensive,” he told the BBC website.
“My overall impression was some departments are quite cavalier in their willingness to respond, to answer proper parliamentary questions.
“It really does demonstrate that there are quite serious problems at the heart of government under the current prime minister.”
Among those he accuses of “squirming” out of a response are the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice – both said it would cost too much to answer the question as the information was not easily accessible.
To be fair, they probably don’t know!
Mr Hemming said it would cost “about 20 quid” to answer the question – “if you don’t try to improve government by getting people to answer questions you might as well just give up.”
The voter was treated as an afterthought
Heated exchanges in the Commons yesterday at PMQs, when the Supreme Leader accused “Call me” Dave Cameron of “misleading people” when discussing the conclusions of the independent report into the Scottish elections 2007. (read Hansard via TheyWorkForYou)
But let’s go back in time for a moment…
An independent inquiry – the Power Inquiry – was setup some time ago “to explore how political participation and involvement can be increased and deepened in Britain. Its work is based on the primary belief that a healthy democracy requires the active participation of its citizens.”
What the inquiry found is that there are several myths and ‘red herrings’ about political disengagement in the UK. Not least among these is the idea that we are apathetic – we aren’t!
On the contrary, an increasing number of people are getting involved with charities and community work. More people are becoming involved with (and voting for) minority parties.
But we are disengaging from what most people immediately think of as ‘politics’ – the formal politics of councils and Westminster, for example.
According to the inquiry, the reasons for disengagement appear to be that
- citizens do not feel that the processes of formal democracy offer them enough influence over political decisions – this includes party members who feel they have no say in policy-making and are increasingly disaffected;
- the main political parties are widely perceived to be too similar and lacking in principle;
- the electoral system is widely perceived as leading to unequal and wasted votes;
- political parties and elections require citizens to commit to too broad a range of policies;
- many people feel they lack information or knowledge about formal politics; and,
- voting procedures are regarded by some as inconvenient and unattractive.
Of course, some Party comrades think it is the fault of bloggers and the media, who encourage the public to think of all politicians as “corrupt or mendacious”. Not the fault of corrupt or mendacious politicians themselves! Oh no.
The voter was treated as an afterthought
All of which brings me finally to the independent review of the Scottish elections 2007 (660Kb PDF). The elections received much criticism at the time regarding rejected ballots and confusing ballot papers and so on.
Some quotes (my emphasis in bold) from the review:
What is characteristic of 2007 was a notable level of party self interest evident in Ministerial decision-making (especially in regard to the timing and method of counts and the design of ballot papers). The timing and impact of policy decisions taken by Ministers also seem to be a critical factor. SOLAR, in particular, has emphasised that the work of the legislation sub-group was undermined by late policy decisions taken by Ministers on a variety of legislative issues. While prescribing all elements of electoral legislation remains a legislative function, Ministers will always need to take some decisions on elements of electoral administration. However, as in other areas of public life, these can and should be taken with the voters’ interests as the primary objective, supported by publicly available professional and expert advice. This appears not to have been the case in 2007.
During our consultations with stakeholders, it became clear that both the Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive were frequently focused on partisan political interests in carrying out their responsibilities, overlooking voter interests and operational realities within the electoral administration timetable.
In considering the circumstances surrounding the planning, organising and implementation of the 3 May 2007 elections in Scotland, we have observed an unfortunate pattern. Almost without exception, the voter was treated as an afterthought by virtually all the other stakeholders. Numerous factors – such as combining the ballot papers for the Scottish parliamentary elections, introducing a new voting system with different ballot paper marking requirements, the failure to conduct adequate research and testing on the impact this new system would have on the electorate, the insistence on conducting an overnight count – all indicate to us that voters were overlooked as the most important stakeholders to be considered at every stage of the election.
And why on earth does the following even need to be said?!
We obviously recommend that all those with a role in organising future elections consider the voters’ interests above all other considerations.
Dave pointed the finger specifically at Comrade Douglas Alexander, International Development Secretary and General Elections
cock-upper Coordinator, cabinet minister and friend to the Supreme Leader. It was amusing/annoying to see the Supreme Leader defend him:
They were agreed after a long process of consultation involving all the parties. I have just quoted the Scottish Conservative leader saying that he supported the single ballot paper, and let me quote Mr. Gould again. He says,
“I don’t think I would absolve any party”
“‘Party self-interest’ in this context is not necessarily related to one party.”
This was not a failure of one party or one institution; it was to do with decisions that we should have made together and with decisions that we have now made to change the system.
Obviously he’s blind to the bit about the Scotland Office and the Scottish Executive overlooking voter interests in order to pursue self-interest.
Is it any wonder that 71% of the public mistrust politicians?
Just hold your hands up and admit that,
The voter was treated as an afterthought