Once again that little bug bare of mine has raised its head (Metro parking, councillors expenses/attendance rates, Channel 4 – God, have I got that many?) No, the costs of the Olympic Games. Today’s Times highlights what can only be described as complete corporate incompetence.
The Public Accounts Committee, the Commons cross party body that ensures that the taxpayer’s money is spent wisely and properly, is frankly, very worried. Four main points have emerged from a recent review of the Olympic books:
1. That a full risk management review is urgently needed. With to many companies and bodies involved in the building, promotional and revenue raising process, costs are accelerating out of control without any overall scrutiny. This is the rationale behind the current £9.4 billion bill.
2. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), charged with raising private finance, has no structures to inform government on a regular basis of its progress. If it doesn’t get it’s costs and revenue under control, it will be the taxpayer through central funding who will have to pick up the bill.
3. There is no clarity or financial project under review or preparation to ensure that the main five capital projects are fully adopted for use after the games have finished.
4. Edward Leigh MP, the Committee’s Chair and not normally such a publicly outspoken critic of such projects, has said that the whole process needs to be run with an “iron hand”. His most telling attack however is contained in the one sentence;
“strong arrangements for monitoring progress and management risk are so far not in place”
In plain old English – no controls exist to stop this project breaking the bank.
Whilst the bill for this white elephant continues to rise, I suspect that the only people who are making any money so far are consultants and business concerns headed by ex sportsmen and woman. I understand that some papers have made Freedom of Information enquires to ascertain the amounts spent so far on projects outside of the capital remit i.e. the bricks and mortar of the Games. None have been answered, the “disproportionate effort” rule being used. I suspect the truth lies in the fact that nobody knows how much has been frittered away.
Labour obviously has a very short memory, and has no recollection of a certain financial catastrophe called “The Dome”. Until it has a flash back and starts to remember certain mistakes, the £9 billion currently spent will double!