Limited accountability of public services
Other Names: Obscure accountability for public services
Inhibited official accountability
Inadequate accountability of public sector management
Non-accountability of state-controlled enterprises
Incidence: A UK computer journalist has reported on the way Government and corporate bureaucrats repeatedly waste taxpayers' money by repeating the same basic mistakes with computer systems, and how there is then no proper auditing system to ensure that lessons are learned and mistakes not repeated. He analyses examples such as the UK National Health Service, which spent Â£500 million on computers to reduce staff costs, coinciding with a 40% increase in the number of administrators. In every case examined, the same pattern emerges: the hiring of expensive consultants to design a complex, over-ambitious, one-off system, which fails to allow for the requirements and capacities of its users; overtight schedules; an almost psychotic reluctance to admit that things have gone wrong. Then finally, when the system crashes, no one is found to be accountable, and no one is concerned to learn why it went wrong.
Claim: It is the lack of accountability and the resultant profusion of corruption, bloated bureaucracies, under-performing parasites and abuse of power that has become a common denominator among developing countries, from single party left-wing regimes to conservative autocracies.
Problem Type: F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update 22.04.1999 – 00:00 CEST