Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Queen, Dredging, Potholes and short-term procurement

The news over the last week has highlighted some of the false economies of short-termism in procurement decision making,

The residents of Somerset Levels claim that the recent flooding could have been avoided if there had not been a cut in river dredging operations. They have good cause to be angry as no doubt their property investments have become almost valueless (would you buy their property?). If you follow the trail of cause and effect from the alleged short-term decision to cut dredging,  then that contributed to the flooding, which in turn led to damaged property and farm crops, which in turn leads to loss of access to insurance, increased fresh produce prices, potentially farmers exiting from their businesses, which in turn leads to the to claim benefits. Then if people move from the area there will be a depopulation and questions as to the sustainability of local schools and remaining local businesses! Do you honestly believe those who suffer the impacts, and their families, will not blame their politicians, through the ballot box, for many years.

Separately consider the problems with potholes.
Yes, it was probably considered a financial necessity to cut back on road maintenance, but preventative maintenance generally costs significantly less than reactive maintenance. Of course some may argue that the real costs of correcting the road damage will have to be picked up by the next parliament, but is that really value for money or deferment/displacement of the problem?

Finally we have the worries of the Queen having just been told that she has been badly advised and their has been insufficient investment in maintenance.

When these policies and strategies were chosen was there really a robust options appraisal and risk assessment?

All these examples have a few things in common: short-term cuts leading to higher long-term costs, lack of confidence by the public in managing the public purse.

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