Friday, 19 October 2007

It has since come to light ...

Yes, it most certainly has.

Tessa Jowell has owned up. In a written parliamentary answer on October 16 – and why written? why not delivered in person? could she possibly have lost her nerve? – she acknowledges that when, in July, she told parliament that the Department of Media, Culture and Sport had employed no consultants to advise on the setting up of the 2012 Olympics in the current financial year and only two in the previous financial year she was talking out of her arse.

This is what she wrote:

In my previous answer to the honourable member for Faversham and Mid-Kent on July 9, I stated that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had not employed consultancy firms to work on the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in the current financial year and that two consultancy firms were employed in 2006-07. However, it has since come to light that during 2006-07 a total of six consultancy firms were employed by DCMS on Olympic-related business. One of these firms continued to work on Olympic-related business in 2007-08 and a further four consultancy contracts had also, as of July 9, been entered into during 2007-08.

The cost of consultancy firms employed by the Olympic Delivery Authority in 2006-07 was £50,494,000 and in 2007-08 (as of July 9) was £10,753,000. These costs reflect the process of establishing the ODA [Olympic Delivery Authority] and building up organisational capacity while ensuring key delivery milestones are achieved.

In other words, the two consultancy firms employed in 2006–07 were actually six and the no consultancy firms employed in 2007–08 were actually five. OK. Fair enough, Tessa. Good of you to tell us. Appreciate it.

Further, they came at the bargain price of only £50.5m in 2006–07 and, in the three months she admits to in 2007–08, £10.75m (which, pro rata, works out at £43m pa). Loose change really. Hardly worth bothering about.

How can cock-ups like this happen? It just beggars belief.

Will anyone be fired? I somehow doubt it.

But the really interesting question is by how much the 'new' new budget for the games will now go over budget. I wrote about this last week – and here it is.

I am now seriously beginning to think that even my top estimate – and my guesses can surely be no worse than Tessa's – of £50m is too low. On the other hand, if even the biggest brains whirling around in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are unable to count up to five, I don't suppose any of us will ever know.

Please note, too, the exquisite use of government speak in Tessa's statement. We now have not an organising committee but ... drum roll, drum roll ... an OLYMPIC DELIVERY AUTHORITY – do they have their own delivery van, I wonder? – charged with achieving KEY DELIVERY MILESTONES.

Fabulous. Nice to know our money is being so well spent.

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