New Lib Dem transport boss, Jon Rogers has been asking some questions about the whereabouts of the public consultation into the Greenbank public land sale (Blogger passim) and has posted a response in the comments.
The responses he’s had from council officers are pretty remarkable and have been quite reasonably compared to the kind of excuses you might get from a kid who hasn’t done their homework.
They also seem to indicate that senior officers at the council don’t possess the most basic kind of project management skills. Let’s have a quick look at their excuses:
(1) Officers have said that the report is not yet ready. “We are finalising the report this week”
(2) They accept that they have not handled this well. “We should clearly have advertised this and given timescales on the website which is I think our main omission.”
(3) They hope to publish the report by the end of the week. “We are expecting to publish the consultation report by the end of the week. I’m not sure how the report will be made public but I’ll check. I’ve asked for an amendment to be made to the website to let people know in the meantime.”
(4) It’s taken longer than we expected for a number of reasons:
“a) We accepted questionnaires until two weeks after the closing date as quite a number were still coming in and we didn’t want to not incorporate people’s comments
b) We inputed those questionnaire ourselves rather than paying someone else to do them, as we were getting criticism for spending too much money on the consultation – this therefore has taken longer as it has been additional work on top of people’s heavy workloads
c) the person [ … ] who has been dealing with pulling the data together has been off [ … ] for the last week
d) We have spent some time double checking the data and ensuring that the conclusions we are reaching are correct as we don’t want to get this one wrong – again this has added to the time in turning it round
It’s pointless running through all these points in detail. Make your own mind up. And feel free to draw your own conclusions about this fantastic coincidence where officers were “finalising the report this week” – just as the Executive Member starts asking difficult questions – while simultaneously not being “sure how the report will be made public”!
You might also want to try and figure out what they think project management is down at the Council House.
To manage a project – such as, say, a simple public consultation – you basically have three variables: people; time and money. By organising and managing these three resources you should be able to successfully complete your project on time and to budget.
So what happened with this project?
People: ” the person [ … ] who has been dealing with pulling the data together has been off [ … ] for the last week”. So why wasn’t this planned for? Do officers not book their holidays in advance? Why was there no planning or contingency for staff absence?
Time: “We accepted questionnaires until two weeks after the closing date”. In other words the time available was randomly expanded by 100% because someone felt like it half way through the project.
Money: “We inputed those questionnaire ourselves rather than paying someone else to do them, as we were getting criticism for spending too much money on the consultation”. Or – if you believe these complaints really exist – they cut the budget half way through the project for PR purposes.
What a total fucking shambles. Whoever organised this should be sacked. They’re an an incompetent idiot wasting considerable sums of public money and screwing up our city into the bargain.
They might as well have taken this £12k (plus the handsomely renumerated officer time on top) of our hard earned council tax and flushed it down the toilet.
What are we paying six-figure salaries at the Council House for exactly?