A lesson in how not to things

by Pseud O'Nym

If you’re anything like me, by that I mean cynical and not brain damaged, possibly you have occasionally wondered how on earth firms such as Capita, G4S, Serco et al, are continually awarded large government contracts which they fail to deliver on. Wonder no more, for this morning I was ‘treated’ to a front row seat of how to do things. Badly. Granted, it was only LMS having her first online lesson of this particular lockdown. But as a very small, very inconsequential example of how if this was massively up scaled to, oh I don’t know, test and trace, it gave me an insight of the truism I mentioned yesterday, namely ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’

Any plan that has as a key component technology is already on the backfoot, moreso if it involves untrained people – in this case parents – using computers. The first problem was joining the session in the first place. This took while and I was given to idly contemplate that just because someone says something in a calm voice, it doesn’t make what they say calming. More importantly, I reflected on the fact that the school should’ve foreseen this as a potential problem and sorted this out. After all, it’s not as if they didn’t have any experience of hosting online lessons to call upon. They had earlier this year, when they did the same thing. They could, they should’ve learnt from this. But no.

It reminded me of Joe’s experience trying to give blood the other day. Blood plasma from people who’ve tested positive for cornavirus is valuable in developing a vaccine. Or something. I just know it has things in it that are important things and these things could help lead to other things, which might lead to something important. Anyway, the thing is that given how the government had bestowed some importance on this, and given for the whole thing to work it needed the people to give their blood plasma -incidentally not as straightforward as donating blood – given all that, one would imagine the process would be as simple as they could make it. You might well think it, but thinking it doesn’t make it so.

Joe was contacted and invited to a donation centre. Where they asked him a load of questions, eventually deeming him unsuitable for donating his plasma. Which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with being thorough. But the problem I have is that when they contacted him, there could easily have been given information about an online questionnaire, that could have informed him instantly if he was suitable or not, or if he’d need to turn up and provide additional information. But no.

That would’ve been too sensible and wouldn’t have wasted enough of time. That’s the thing, if the government – basically you and I, the taxpayers – are paying the bill, there’s no incentive do a thorough job. Indeed quite the opposite in fact because the same companies are rewarded for their woefully lamentable performance with yet more government contracts they fail to deliver on.

Granted, a schools ability or not to successfully organize an online lesson for sixty pupils, isn’t in and of itself that important. But the school receives taxpayer’s money and parents might reasonably have an expectation of competence. Same with the blood plasma fiasco.  They’re both indicative of a culture of taxpayer funded incompetence that seems be the single tangible result of outsourcing.