I started this blog in June 2007 asking these questions: Are we in a massive asset bubble that will blow up in our faces ??? - ANSWERED YES ! Is western and particularly British society on the verge of social collapse??? What are the best common sense long term investment strategies to keep you rich? When will consumption/debt bubble economics end and a real savings/production economy begin ???

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

From pension blunder to Sats debacle, oversized Whitehall bureaucracy wreaks havoc. But those with power cling to it

Organising an examination for Britain's teenagers should not be too tough a job. For half a century, local government managed it. Yet from the moment testing was nationalised under the Tories it went berserk. Ministers floundered, claiming to "need to know" everything about the nation's young. In the decade from its introduction by John Patten in 1993, the cost of testing and league tables rose from £10m to £610m. Each July saw a flood of "exam fiasco" stories. Nobody could agree over standards. A secretary of state - Estelle Morris - resigned, and officials and private companies came, went, resigned or were sacked.

Last summer the testing regime reached its nadir. Nobody had been found in all Britain up to the task of running an attainment test for 14-year-olds. The "market price" for such a paragon was eventually fixed at a salary of £328,000, a flat in west London, membership of a yacht club in Sydney harbour and six club-class tickets round the world. This obscene reward went to an Australian, Ken Boston, who proved unable to do the job without spending a further £156m on an American company, ETS (Educational Testing Services). In July hundreds of thousands of exam papers were delayed or improperly marked, and another fiasco was declared as such by Lord Sutherland in his Sats inquiry report last night.

Exams are not alone. Yesterday's newspapers contained tales of woe from the following corners of the public sector: a pensions overpayment, a BBC audience voting farce, a transport department efficiency scam and a knife-crime statistics shocker. Only the ID card and NHS computer shambles disappeared briefly from the spotlight.

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