OGC tries to gag Information Commissioner

The
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
projects. 

The
OGC's went on to say that the main grounds for non-disclosure were;

Gateway
reviews are exempt from disclosure under Freedom of Information Act since they
relate to the OGC auditing role.

Civil
servants would feel inhibited from expressing adverse views if reviews were
published.

Review
process would be delayed if reports are written for publication.

Risk
that published reviews could be misquoted or taken out of context.

Information
commissioner has not adequately explained the public interest involved.


This
is pure bunkum.   We all know that the workings of Whitehall are secrecy first, say nothing unless forced to.

Why
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
interest. 

The
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. 

I am
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.

We
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
auditors. 

If
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.

The
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. 

We
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.

We
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. 

It
is so heartening to finally see an Information Commissioner with some Balls,
and he enjoys my support.

 


Advertisements

About IanPJ

Ian Parker-Joseph, former Leader of the Libertarian Party UK, who currently heads PDPS Internet Hosting and the Personal Deed Poll Services company, has been an IT industry professional for over 20 years, providing Business Consulting, Programme and Project Management, specialising in the recovery of Projects that have failed in a process driven world. Ian’s experience is not limited to the UK, and he has successfully delivered projects in the Middle East, Africa, US, Russia, Poland, France and Germany. Working within different cultures, Ian has occupied high profile roles within multi-nationals such as Nortel and Cable & Wireless. These experiences have given Ian an excellent insight into world events, and the way that they can shape our own national future. His extensive overseas experiences have made him all too aware of how the UK interacts with its near neighbours, its place in the Commonwealth, and how our nation fits into the wider world. He is determined to rebuild many of the friendships and commercial relationships with other nations that have been sadly neglected over the years, and would like to see greater energy and food security in these countries, for the benefit of all. Ian is a vocal advocate of small government, individual freedom, low taxation and a minimum of regulation. Ian believes deeply and passionately in freedom and independence in all areas of life, and is now bringing his professional experiences to bear in the world of politics.
This entry was posted in Main Page. Bookmark the permalink.