Friday, 28 December 2007

HM Nanny Bombs in Nuclear Clean-up

HM Nanny is in fine fettle, commanding the nation's workers to get healthy and demanding that kids must wait until they're 18 before hurtling around the country's roads (which will help the ailing job figures, by the way, to the extent that these unreliable teens might dare to drive to work).

These subtleties are what really count in government. After all, three quarters of the country wants the government to tell us how to live our lives in detail.

So, there was no sense in Gordo galavanting on our behalf at the signing ceremony of the EU Constit... er, sorry, "Reform Treaty", when there was a meeting of the House of Commons "liaison committee" to attend.

And if the government can't control the security of people's personal information, then it can at least have a policy of being transparent when they get it wrong. And keep logs of the problems. And undertake investigations. You never know, people might just get sick of hearing about it all and stop bothering to care about their personal security anyway.

And then there is the distraction of targets. And of reports of performance against targets.

We are blinded by the detail.

But just for a laugh, I looked at the Autumn 2007 Performance Report of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, or "BERR". That's the department charged with promoting enterprise and cutting red tape, I'll have you know.

Footnote 6 on page 5 gives you an idea where the report is headed:

"Factors affecting performance are only discussed for targets from the current spending review [undertaken in 2004]. The performance on targets from previous spending reviews can no longer be influenced since the period covered by them has ended."

In other words, if they miss the targets, the slate gets wiped clean.

And here's what we got for our tax money spent on promoting enterprise and cutting red tape:

"Of the ten PSA targets from SR04 which BERR is responsible for delivering, five are assessed as on course to be delivered, two are assessed as showing slippage, two are split up and assessed in more detail by sub-target (with most of the sub-targets assessed as on course for each) and one further target is yet to be assessed."

5 out of ten.

But what of the targets "showing slippage"?

Pah! They're only concerned with fuel poverty in vulnerable households, reducing EU trade barriers to help developing countries and nuclear clean-up. "Greater choice and commitment in the workplace" hasn't even been assessed.

I'm sorry, did you say, "nuclear clean-up"?

Ah, yes... Target 9, page 7:

"reduce the civil nuclear liability by 10% by 2010, and establish a safe, innovative and dynamic market for nuclear cleanup by delivering annual 2% efficiency gains from 2006-07; and ensuring successful competitions have been completed for the management of at least 50% of UK nuclear sites by end 2008."

I see. The same government that tells us how to live our lives is also dumping our unencrypted personal data in Iowa and failing to clean up its own nuclear waste.

Somehow, I reckon life could get pretty warm around here during '08.

Better make this New Year's Eve party a big one. Enjoy.
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