Bad Government is a Global Problem
From our Swindon Correspondent:
A series of debacles over a €808,000 state-of-the-art Komori printer has this week left officials red-faced, triggered an inquiry and prompted jokes about monster ink.
After the machine, measuring 2.1 metres high by 1.9 metres wide, arrived in Ireland last December officials at the legislature, the Oireachtas, discovered it did not fit into the building.
OK, mistakes happen.
They could not return it to the UK manufacturer because the contract had already been signed. So they moved it to an industrial estate until September, paying storage fees, while builders tore down walls and embedded structural steel to create more height clearance at Kildare House, racking up €236,000 in additional costs.
And that’s just funny
The printer is now installed but idle because of an industrial relations dispute. According to the Irish Times, Oireachtas staff refuse to operate it, saying they need training and a pay rise, and in any case IT colleagues are reluctant to grant it server permissions, meaning it cannot run.
Now we’re really at home to Mr Cockup, though. Unionised labour, of which government has plenty, tend to get picky about this sort of thing. They might have been trained on the BZ23-A, but this is the BZ-23B, so we’d better get a nice day drinking tea in a country house while someone trains us on the BZ-23B. You make sure that you’ve got these people on board before you spend the money. You make sure IT are happy before you spend the money.
But I am wondering why the Irish government is doing this at all.
Nearly 20 years ago, I used to work for a company that printed bills by the million. All sorts of companies: mobile phones, mail order computer stuff, farming supplies. There’s various general expertise that applies to all of that, from outputting the mail for sorting to save postage, to how to do bulk mailing, to how to generate proofs for customer checking. Oh, and ordering and installing printers.
Clients would send files over the wire to us, we’d run some proofs, get them signed and then print out their stuff. We knew how to do all this stuff, and also, if something went wrong, we were fast to fix it because it was something we did every day.
The thing with doing anything yourself is expertise and specialisation. If you’re only buying a printer every 5 years, you aren’t learning all the problems with buying a printer. If you’re running the printer, you have to train your own team. And that’s aside from probably having to spend out on something that will sit idle most of the time.
It’s the same problem with all big government. Getting the NHS doing more of its own stuff sounds like it’ll be cheaper than using a load of profit-making businesses, but the profit-making businesses know what they’re doing.