Monday, October 04, 2010

Pointless Government spending... so much for austerity

Now here's something I find mildly amusing, especially given the current theme in politics is about cutting wasteful and extraneous Government spending. You see, part of the Tory manifesto, and Lib Dems to an extent, was a call for greater transparency about what departments were spending and doing.

The irony here of course is that in order to provide the public with such transparency of detail they need to spend money to do it, and spend it during a time when the Chancellor (aka Twat) is banging on about cutting spending.

And so it came to pass, that soon after the election, certain departments started doing the transparency thing. They did it by providing us with pointless real-time graphing of their energy and water consumption on their websites that few people really look at. Along came a company called "Ecodriver" who provided the Ministry of Justice with this little baby.

But it's not just the MoJ that have it, the Home Office is in on the tree-hugging hippy act too. Then there's the Department for International Development who are taking pride in telling all those drought ridden countries they're helping how much water they're using. Finally we have the Department of Transport showing us similar colourful data... ain't transparency great?

How much is this costing at a time when we're supposed to be tightening our belts? Well, in the wider scheme of things not very much really.

The Ministry of Justice spent £13,180 on implementation, and has an annual fee of £5,514. The DfID says it paid a total for implementation and managed service of £16,773. The Home Office was cheaper getting it installed for just £7,359 with a mere £2,769.80 yearly subscription (so that's £10,128.80, not sure what the 80p covers). The DfT says they only paid £9,915.82 but don;t mention anything about annual subscriptions.

One presumes that some departments managed to negotiate harder than others, hence the differences in prices, but, on a wider point, is this sort of spending, although small, particularly worthwhile? Do we really need to spend taxpayers money so we can see real-time data on how many lights have been left on in the Home Office or how many times the bog was flushed?

Methinks we have some skewed priorities here. On the one hand they're saying we're going to have to cut, and then on the other they're spending money on giving us information that we don't really need, or likely want - and if we did, we could just ask for it instead at a fraction of the cost.

Note: Before someone suggests that this might be pointless spending by the previous Government, it isn't. It was commissioned by the Coaltion.

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