The PAC deputy chair, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, said: “The Ministry of Justice took an all-singing, all-dancing approach to what could have been a relatively simple procurement exercise.
The evidence to support a wholesale transformation of the tagging system was weak at best but the ministry pushed ahead anyway.
“This ill-fated adventure into the possibilities of technology has so far cost taxpayers some £60m. The new tags are expected to be rolled out more than five years later than planned and, even then, the system will rely on the same form of technology that was available when the programme launched.”
Hey, why not? The mugs (that’s you and me, dear reader) are paying!
And when the mugs are forking out, a procurement can have all kinds of aims, some of them not even related to the issue at hand...
The PAC report says the MoJ’s approach was driven by its aims of increasing competition and participation by small companies.
Not its aim of ensuring offenders will be dealt with appropriately, oh no! That’s a secondary concern.
It appointed a small company, Buddi, to develop and produce the new tags in August 2013 but ended its involvement seven months later “after being unable to resolve fundamental differences”.
In particular, officials wanted the company to hand over its intellectual property in the new tags for nothing.
Who would agree to that? And they didn’t learn those lessons they always claim they want to, either:
A contract awarded to a second small firm, Steatite, which had “scored below the minimum benchmark in the procurement”, was ended in November 2015 after growing delays to the programme.
The programme was originally expected to reduce tagging costs by between £9m and £30m a year but so far it has failed to deliver any tangible benefit.
Never mind, it’s only taxpayer money, right?