£8 million poorer
Events this week have revealed £8 million of public money has been spent failing to provide a Common Performance Management Platform project for the eight police forces.
The press briefing, quickly arranged on the same day I received a letter from the Association of Chief Police Officers for Scotland (Acpos) admitting the project had been abandoned, was in my view a cynical attempt to prevent light being cast on this miserable situation.
What has not been announced, however, is why it failed, who was responsible for ensuring delivery of the system, what system of oversight was in place and what penalties are to be paid by those companies that have failed in this project.
SNP government ministers could not distance themselves any faster from this matter – a response so typical of this government when it is expected to show leadership and recognise some responsibility for public service spending.
At the same time Acpos remains silent on the matter. Steria, the private sector provider, offered no additional information, nor did a mysterious, unnamed third-party supplier which apparently received a “significant proportion” of the £4m capital expenditure have anything to add.
Yet again the public is expected to foot the substantial bill without comment and forget the matter.
Even Audit Scotland seems unable to review the project as Acpos has operated as a private company in this matter and is therefore beyond Audit Scotland’s remit.
This is intolerable. How are we to have any confidence in the SNP government’s ability to deliver a much-needed single police force with a budget of £1.4 billion if it is incapable of ensuring £8m can be properly spent and accounted for to the satisfaction of the public?
Where is the independent, democratically appointed body able to break into this cycle of self-interest to deliver proper transparency?
I first raised this matter in May and was required to wait patiently till the end of August for this announcement.
Is it really too much to expect that highly paid police chiefs, managers and civil servants will produce a proper account of what went wrong with yet another IT project about which we were promised so much?
Is it also too much to expect that a government minister will step forward and explain this matter fully?
Graeme Pearson MSP
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Monday 20 May 2013
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