27 March 2013

Fiddling while Rome burns

Just occasionally, government ministers actually resolve problems.  (I can't for the moment think of any concrete examples but it must be true.)  Mostly, however, they simply try to avoid making them worse, in effect by kicking the can down the road.  But, once in a blue moon, they come across a problem that is so damaging and so intractable that they have no alternative but to resort to the ultimate sanction - they are forced to re-orghanise.  So it is with Mrs May and the UK Border Agency:
The troubled UK Border Agency is to be abolished and brought back within the Home Office, the home secretary, Theresa May has announced.
She told MPs that she will also split the "closed and secretive" agency into an immigration and visa service and a separate law enforcement command while bringing it back under the direct control of ministers.
May first split off the UK border force from UKBA 12 months ago in the wake of the Brodie Clark affair.
The home secretary said in an unscheduled Commons statement that UKBA was "a troubled organisation … its performance was not good enough". She identified four main problems: its size, its lack of transparency, its IT systems and its policy and legal framework.
She said that the immigration agency has been such a "troubled organisation" for so many years that it will take many more years to clear the backlogs, which now top more than 310,000 cases, and fix the system.
It reminds me of the spurious quotation attributed to Petronius:
We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralisation.
Will Mrs May's reorganisation make it better? Need you ask?

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