To err is human; but to really screw it up you need a civil servant and a computer

Hot on the heels of the Child Benefit data disaster and the foreign prisoner fiasco, we have another digital cock-up. This time it’s the Home Office again – a CD containing the DNA details of 2000 wanted criminals sent by the Dutch police was left unactioned on some idiot’s desk for over a year. Checks carried out recently reveal that 15 of these suspects are in the UK and 11 of them have gone on to commit further serious crime here. Well done Home Office.

I think we’ve all become somewhat immune to hearing about civil service and government blundering, but coming so soon after similar high-profile incidents, it is quite amazing that nothing seems to have been done to sort the problem out. The reason being, I suspect, is that the management culture in government and in the civil service has been allowed to flounder to such an extent that change is now impossible. To put it bluntly, we are not only being led by idiots but also administered by them too, through systems which perpetuate a culture of failure.

In this latest incident, the useless recipient of this vital data decided to go on sick leave for a year. What does it say about the management of this section that apparently nobody was given the task of covering this role during their absence? If such measures were not deemed necessary, then why does this role even exist in the first place? I strongly suspect that the reason for absence is something suitably pathetic, like “stress”, but even if this individual had good reason to be absent for such a long period, surely any half-decent manager would have either covered the role with a short-term contract or replaced them altogether, moving “sick note” into a new role upon their return.

What this case reveals in stark detail is the total ineptitude of those charged with administering this country; a culture where the individual rights of those within these organisations takes total precedence over their responsibilities. I despair that even if we manage to get rid of Brown at the next election, we’re still saddled with his legions of incompentant monkeys running the country.

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