How to cover one’s back when funneling taxpayers’ money
Over the past few days we have mentioned a couple of new Memoranda of Understanding [1, 2] which resemble the infamous one from the UK [1, 2, 3, 4]. According to the latest report from Mark Ballard, Richard Steel and his colleagues at Newham (or Microsoft) not only referenced their own ‘studies’ for validation, but they also resorted to ad hominem attacks against Ballard himself. How noble.
Steel had claimed the first MOU had been superseded when we put it to him that the original deal had failed to meet its key objectives. He insisted the objectives had been met. After we published evidence that the original MOU had not met its objectives, Steel tried to discredit your humble correspondent in his blog. He also shared confidential reports for publication in an apparently desperate attempt to find ways to show how the Microsoft deal could be justified.
The reports were benchmarks produced by the Society of IT Managers, of which Steel is now president. The MOU had achieved all its objectives bar some spurious commitment to develop with Microsoft a methodology for measuring the performance of the Microsoft deal, said Steel. This done, “We had therefore agreed new actions with Microsoft in a progress review last year,” Steel repeated in his blog. But the original agreement had stipulated that the Microsoft deal would propel Newham into the top performing quartile of UK councils and that this would be demonstrated in benchmarks drawn up by the UK’s independent Audit Commission. Councillors opted Microsoft over Open Source on this promise in 2004. The deal has failed to meet this objective.
Yesterday we shared a video that exposes the similar situation at the BBC. They struggle to justify their choice of a monopoly abuser that grossly overcharges taxpayers. Having failed to do so, as Microsoft often does, they produce (or manufacture, as in “manufacturing consent”) their own ‘studies’ or case studies.
Only yesterday, the following new article about Larry Lessig’s work was published; it analogously applies here.
And then there’s the big one: global warming, and the “junk science” research put forth at the behest of the oil industry.
Also interesting are Lessig’s remarks on money that changes hands and its impact on the industry as a whole. █