government has attacked its own information watchdog for failing to understand
the workings of Whitehall, as it gears up to fight an order to publish
confidential reports into the ID cards programme.
As reported in ComputerWeekly.com
today, The Office of
Government Commerce, which is part of HM Treasury, claimed in legal papers
that, by ordering the publication of Gateway reviews on identity cards, the
information commissioner had unreasonably rejected clear evidence that
publication of the project reports would cause “substantial harm”.
Substantial harm to who?
Certainly not the public who has been asking for a long time to know and
understand why government money is being wasted regularly on failed or late IT
OGC's went on to say that the main grounds for non-disclosure were;
reviews are exempt from disclosure under Freedom of Information Act since they
relate to the OGC auditing role.
servants would feel inhibited from expressing adverse views if reviews were
process would be delayed if reports are written for publication.
that published reviews could be misquoted or taken out of context.
commissioner has not adequately explained the public interest involved.
is pure bunkum. We all know that the workings of Whitehall are secrecy first, say nothing unless forced to.
should the Gateway reviews be exempt from disclosure under FOI? There are enough secrets about how government
spend our tax money, so the Auditing feature is one of the prime areas of
public want to know how much money you are spending and/or wasting on these IT
projects. I can only assume that the
Audits are massaged for public consumption if there is this much resistance.
of the belief that most Civil Servants would be less inhibited and speak
frankly, especially if they knew that this would be a conduit for their views
to be aired publicly, with less chance of their careers being restricted as
they would be if they were seen as whistleblowers. Perhaps they already do speak frankly,
perhaps you just don’t want us to know it, because their technical and project
views are overridden by the commercial interests of the prime contractors. Publication of the Gateway reviews would
probably reveal or dispel this.
don’t want the reports to be re-written for publication, that is just a waste
of public money, we the public want to see the raw reports, not massaged ones,
and we would probably better understand the technical content than the OGC
we saw the raw reviews there would be no opportunity to misquote or be taken
out of context. That is something that tends
to happen when reports are re-written for publication.
public interest is this. Gateway reviews
are the point in a project life cycle where the project progress is assessed,
where the failings and risks are examined and discussed, followed by decisions
on next steps and remedial actions. One
of those decisions should be that the projects does not move forward to the
next stage until the Gateway criteria has been met. That criteria should form
the basis for the review.
the public want to know just how many screw-ups you guys are making, what its
costing us, how many duplicated mistakes are made (i.e. not taking any notice
of lessons learnt), how much that costs us, and how many people are involved,
and remain in any screw-ups.
want to analyse those reports and be satisfied that you are taking the rights
decisions and the correct remedial actions.
That any costs incurred because of delays or mistakes are both minimal
and justifiable. It is what is jokingly
called by us out here as Accountable Government.
is so heartening to finally see an Information Commissioner with some Balls,
and he enjoys my support.