Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Missing Discs

Other than revealing that I am available should the English FA require me to take over from Steve McLaren, I shall gloss over England's disgraceful performances against Russia and Croatia.

That's not the big issue in the news though, is it? The big news is two CDs on which were burned sensitive details of 25 million people have gone missing. I have a theory about that though. Here's what I think happened.

Once upon a time in the Revenue's headquarters in Newcastle, there was a low grade civil servant, an AO, who I shall call Dave because, him being a Geordie, it's probably not his name.

Now, like all civil servants, Dave is squeezed between demanding customers such as the National Audit Office (NAO) and a management that gives no support to its employees.

The NAO had written to the Revenue requesting some details of parents and children receiving child benefit and the family tax credit. Unfortunately, senior management decided that it was too expensive to separate off the sensitive details so the information could be shared. A satisfactory decision perhaps... except that they forgot to tell either the NAO or Dave.

Now Dave has been a civil servant for a couple of years so he's used to being blamed for other people's cock ups and of making his own cockups because of overwork.

The first time NAO rang Dave, he told them he'd find out and asked his boss (who I will call Mr Purviss). Dave then told the NAO that it had yet to be decided how the information would be provided.

The next time, Mr Purviss was out at lunch when the NAO called. (Has anyone else noticed the number of people who decide the best time to call an office is between 12 and 2 so that the Daves of this world end up answering 40 phones, mainly to take messages?) Dave could not remember the information he was being asked about but he said "Oh, it's going out today."

A week later the NAO phoned Dave again and he said he didn't know where the information was. The NAO said, "Now come on Dave, you promised last week that it would go out, now where is it." Dave did not know and said he'd find out. Needless to say, Dave did not phone up later that day.

The next day though, the NAO called again so Dave thought he'd play for time by lying. "I've sent it to you". He said.

"So", asked the NAO, "Why haven't I seen the Email?" (Umm, I ummm burned it on a disc). "Okay, so why haven't I received an email with the decryption key." (Umm, I ahh, didn't encrypt it.) "Hmm, Okay so how did you send it...?" (Internal Courier, you should get it tomorrow).

But of course, they did not get it the next day because the disc did not and does not exist. Needless to say they complained and revealed how the disc had been lost.

When Mr Purviss approached Dave, Dave was in a vile mood, having received little or no support and having gone further and further on a limb. Dave did indeed "resign". More accurately, he told Mr Purviss precisely where to stick his job.