http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... er-controlTheresa May plays a familiar part in the farce of border control
Whitehall reorganisation is ministers' favourite blood sport. But frontline staff must be allowed to make their own decisions
o Simon Jenkins
o guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 21 February 2012 20.45 GMT
As central government has burgeoned, ministers have been content with success but find blame ever harder to accept. They respond to failure not by streamlining their departments and directing resources to the frontline, but by the opposite. They hire consultants, reorganise departments and agencies and spend billions on computers. Well-publicised fiascos over the NHS computer, the ID card computer, the passports computer, the farm payments computer and innumerable defence computers make the postwar groundnuts scandal look small beer. One report last year suggested that computer failure had wasted taxpayers £26bn since 2000. The incompetence is stupendous, yet there has been no audit, no accountability, no halt to crazy procurement.
A classic was the fate of the Home Office's "e-Borders" computer, sold by Raytheon to a gullible Jacqui Smith as home secretary in 2007. A billion pounds was blown, scanning took up to 80% longer, and there were doubts about legality. The government "lost confidence" and axed the contract in 2010, with a £500m dispute about fees. Again, there has been no apparent audit of the loss. If this was Greece we would have Germans crawling all over us.