The world is blighted by governmental infrastructure disasters. It’s a wonder anyone ever built anything sometimes. Ghost airports, creaking transport capacity, power outages, misfiring defence systems, crumbling schools and shoddy hospitals. Although that last one is perhaps UK-only.
I’ve blogged before about the current lack of a British aircraft carrier, the ballooning cost of much delayed new trainline under London (Crossrail, which everyone will love when open, at least) and airport inadequacy in the capital.
A plenitude of frustration grew with a recent Times Leader entitled Money Pit. They question widely, including the supposed £4bn cost of fixing the Palace of Westminster. Yet another finger-in-the-air wild guess. Along with the impossibly short project timeframe.
To précis the scathing findings of the National Audit Office;
Over-optimism in government projects spiral from short-termism, incomplete understanding, willful ignorance of complexity, failure to consult outside interests, willingness to overlook flaws evident even at early stage, with weak accountability of contractors and low penalties for their underperformance.
Quite the charge sheet.
Indeed, they state that of 149 schemes in the infrastructure portfolio today, successful delivery is in doubt or unachievable for one-third unless immediate action occurs.
My first solution selling point is that the list of seven ‘spirals’ down listed above would be a useful checklist for any big project on your current forecast.
Moving on, all this emerged on the day British tech firm Micro Focus spent a bewildering $8.8bn on the HPE software interests. Forcing some commentators to link the two maladies. With no-one able to succeed at the Autonomy software billion-dollar back hole before. Which makes me realise that you often need to nail down why your proposal will now work, where previous ones have failed.
Thirdly, I then heard a politician suggest a remedy for public sector woes with a useful framing.
He sought to switch 3Hs for 3Gs.
The three aitches being Hinkley Point nuclear power station (possibly the most expensive building ever attempted on Earth), Heathrow expansion (the third runway folly) and HS2 (a new rail link out of London where costs have just risen from a mere £55bn to an unimaginable £80bn without a single sleeper so far set).
His alternate trio of gees are provoking. Green energy, Gatwick airport expansion and a Great Northern railway.
A clear attempt to shift the argument onto new turf. A bold endeavour, even with chances of success slim. Yet if opponents of any of the H-plans could coalesce behind the slogan, then you never know. (Although I note the calls to rebrand HS2 with a ‘G’, as in Grand Union Rail, to evoke canal heritage and shift focus from speed to capacity.)
He has a slight window ajar here. In the same way that Brexit is felt to have won in part because of the very (and euphonious) word being coined. A complex issue summed up in one simple (new) word. There’s a similar element of “lingual determinism” here. Of which I’ve blogged several times. Own the syntax, own the bid. Where’s your opportunity to do the same?