Imagine the conversation later this year, somewhere in Whitehall:
Civil servant Excellent news Minister. Our new arrangements for buying furniture are coming up to the end of their first year and everything is looking really good.
Minister Excellent news. Do you mind letting me have some figures on how the arrangements have performed compared to the previous contracts?
Civil servant I’m terribly sorry Minister, but we haven’t kept all the records of the previous contract.
Minister What about the records just from 2009 then?
Civil servant Sorry, but we haven’t got all of them.
Minister You mean you don’t have the records any more even for something as recent as last year?
Civil servant No, Minister.
Minister So you are telling me we can’t actually properly check whether our new arrangements are doing better or worse than the old ones?
Civil servant I’m afraid so Minister.
It would be pretty underwhelming, wouldn’t it?
Well, that’s just what the Ministry of Justice have managed. Despite the MoJ’s love of paperwork (work for the MoJ and driving your own car on work business? that’d be four different forms you are meant to keep in the vehicle at all times), it already no longer has full records for its furniture contracts which ended in late 2009 as this Parliamentary Question from Conservative MP Matthew Hancock revealed.
So let’s just hope the MoJ really has improved its furniture supply arrangements, because the records aren’t there any more to tell us for sure.