So it’s d-day at last and Richard Lochhead has announced that only 5,000 Scottish Farmers have seen any of the EU subsidies to which they are entitled – despite the Scottish Government spending over £200million on the computer system so far and paying out over £1/2million per year for a Delivery Director and similar amounts of money for his management team.
Add to this the fact that the Delivery Director was able to take a percentage cut of workers pay that were allowed to work on the Rural Payments project through his own Agency and the Scottish Government has made some of the senior management on the CAPs project very rich.
Ironically, the worse the project was, the more complicated it was made, the more people needed to work late and work weekends and the more the project failed – the more money these people made.
In other words – they could more than double their money by failing to deliver the project than by delivering it. Scottish Government had entered into a contract that rewarded failure.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, the system does not work. The farmers aren’t getting their money and the “team” are “working very hard” (plenty of paid overtime) to fix the mess they created in the first place and coincidentally maximising their profits in the process.
Welcome to the world of Public Sector IT incompetence and rewarding failure.
As for Richard Lockhead’s announcement, he stresses how difficult the system has been because this system represents the biggest CAP reform in a generation and is very complicated.
Well, one can’t help but wonder if Richard Lochhead thinks that getting up in the morning is a complicated task and then there’s the even more complicated task of getting dressed. To be blunt – the CAP reforms are only as difficult as people make them. Yes, there is a large amount of EU regulation with which the Scottish Government has to comply – but once the information has been captured, the processing of that data against EU rules and regulations is a relatively simple task according to industry experts with whom we have spoken.
Indeed the consensus is that those people responsible for designing and delivering this system had more to gain from making the system over-complicated than from making it simple.
“Take changing a light bulb as an example”, one expert told us. “Most people would stand on a chair and simply reach up and remove and replace the lightbulb.”
“Scottish Government’s £200million team would go into the room above the lightbulb that needed changing, remove the furniture, pull up the carpet, pull up the floorboards, punch a hole in the ceiling below, pull the whole light fitting into the room above, change the bulb and then lower the light fitting back through the hole they had made. Then they would leave the whole mess for somebody else to clean up saying that their job was contractually complete, or they would set up a new contract to put everything else back to how it was.”
“The SAF project does not need to be as complicated and unusable as the implementation that has been delivered – and the sooner Richard Lochhead stops making excuses for them the better.”
“In the meantime, the Scottish Farmers are paying the price.”