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World Bank’s ICTD Project Is A Monumental F*ck Up

by | 19th, August 2011

THIS is a strange little headline from the depths of the policy wonks’ part of the internet:

A Great Success: World Bank has a 70% failure rate with ICT4D projects to increase universal access

To unpick it for a moment: ICT4D is when the World Bank tries to get computers into the hands of poor people (why it doesn’t just given them a smart phone is another matter). And the rest of the headline is stating that 70% of all the money it spends is just pissed away on nothing useful and that this is a great success.

No, not that a failure rate of only 70% is a great success: but that we know what the failure rate is is a great success.

You see, the great problem we’ve always got with any bureaucracy, any government spending, anything at all that isn’t operating in the cruel world of profit and loss, is working out whether what we’re doing is doing any good or not.

If you’re trying to make a profit then it’s quite simple: if you’re not making a profit then people are prepared to pay less for what you do than it costs to do it. This is also known as destroying value and so you should stop doing it. Which , of course, you will, when you run out of money. So failure is self-limiting in the private sector.

This isn’t so when you can dip into the taxpayers’ pockets for your funding. Failure is either lied about or used as an argument that you need more resources to piss up against the wall.

And it’s that that is the great victory. We’ve finally got the World Bank to evaluate its projects as a private company would: are we doing more good than it costs us to do what we’re doing?

Yes, excellent, let’s do some more. No? Let’s stop doing that then, eh?

Now all we’ve got to do is introduce this idea to hte rest of government, at gun point if necessary, and we’ll end up only doing the things with the taxpayers’ money which are worth spending the taxpayers’ money upon. A rather shorter list than what the taxpayers’ money is currently spent on I think we’ll all agree.

Yes, diversity advisors, smoking cessation and real nappy officers, the Arts Council and every quango under the Sun: this does mean you.



Posted: 19th, August 2011 | In: Money Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink