Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80
MONDAY 31 JANUARY 2000
80. I cannot hear what is being said.
(Mr Pusey) My apologies. Quite clearly at the time
the decision appeared to be the sensible one, the technology was
there and proven to be working, recognised as working by independent
auditors. The real issue was testing it in a live environment.
81. One very last and quick point, if I may.
In light of what you have said and the meetings that you had and
the discussions that took place, did Siemens at any time ask the
Agency for an extension of the timetable? Did you request an extension
given the problems that you knew were happening?
(Mr Pusey) I think the answer to that is as soon as
we had gone live at Newport and we had been assessing progress
at Liverpool, early progress at Newport, it was very much a joint
decision on the part of the Agency and ourselves that we should
defer the remainder of the roll-out until we were satisfied that
the performance of the two initial sites was up to scratch.
Mr Campbell: I am not sure if that is yes or
no. Thank you, Chairman.
Chairman: I am sure someone else will raise
that, Mr Campbell. Mr Charles Wardle.
82. Thank you, Chairman. Can I just declare
a past interest in that I was employed in the Home Office as the
Minister with responsibility for this area and in anticipation
of the scepticism of some colleagues I refer them to page 12,
figure 4 and paragraph 1.8 where they will see the period I was
there described in glowing terms, if the NAO use glowing terms.
The system was kept simple and it worked. Let us just move to
Mr Pusey. Mr Pusey, you worked for Post Office Telecommunications,
it became British Telecom, you worked in the public sector, you
went on to Milk Marque. I am right, am I not, in my understanding
that when the French IT company, GSI, employed you, your specific
mission was to look for public sector business?
(Mr Pusey) My time at GSI
83. I am not asking what your time was, what
was the mission?
(Mr Pusey) Specifically to work to grow their UK business
84. Their UK business.
(Mr Pusey) No specific focus on public service.
85. Are you sure about that?
(Mr Pusey) Yes.
86. Okay. The work that you bid for, how much
of it was public sector? Quick as you can.
(Mr Pusey) It is very difficult.
87. Written on your heart from all of that experience.
(Mr Pusey) The largest contract we bid for successfully
was private sector.
88. That is not what I am asking you. How much
did you bid for that was public sector?
(Mr Pusey) From memory there was one public sector
contract about to be
89. So you were not as effective as GSI hoped
you would be. You moved on to Siemens and at Siemens has your
principal task been to find public sector business?
(Mr Pusey) My principal task at Siemens Business Services
has been to help grow the business by winning business
90. Tell me what is the aggregate value of the
contracts Siemens now have with different Whitehall departments
(Mr Pusey) I guess in terms of total contract value
public sector about £1.4 billion.
91. £1.4 billion. The only ones I am really
familiar with are the IND casework, which has resulted in chaos
and, of course, the Passport Agency which caused a great deal
of upset to an awful lot of people who wanted their passports.
Let me just let you rest for a moment and go to Mr Gatenby. Mr
Gatenby, I was astounded to hear you say that just 500 people
did not get their passports on time. Did it not dawn on you when
you were still taking your monthly pay cheque as an active civil
servant that there were thousands and thousands of people whose
pleasant anticipation of a holiday was marred by anxiety, marred
by having to go and queue, often uselessly, outside your offices
because they did not get their passports? The fact that they may
have got it at the last minute is thanksI may sayto
the hard work of your middle and junior rank staff. That is a
compliment I would extend to everybody in the Home Office. I think
the management, as I think we will demonstrate before this is
over, is worse than useless, it could not manage its way out of
a paper bag. I think the loyalty, the commitment, the effort put
in by ordinary people working as immigration officers, working
at Lunar House as it was, working in the Passport Agency, is to
be commended. It is the management that I am worried about. I
was astounded to hear you say that no heads rolled. Did your head
(Mr Gatenby) No, Mr Wardle. I actually retired. I
indicated as early as 1997 that was my intention.
92. So you retired on the right day. Were you
sent on gardening leave prior to retirement?
(Mr Gatenby) No.
93. So you are telling me you worked in this
muddle retirement happy until the very last moment of your working
(Mr Gatenby) I stayed until 2 September by which time
turn around times had come down to within the ten day target,
94. So you stayed right the way through this.
I will turn to Sir David now. Congratulations, Sir David. Did
it not dawn on you or any of your senior officials that you needed
some new management in as a matter of urgency? Yes or no?
(Sir David Omand) Mr Wardle
95. I just want a yes or no answer, Sir David.
It is me taking the evidence.
(Sir David Omand) Your question is not capable of
a yes or no answer because there was more than one question asked
at the same time.
96. Let try to put a simple question to you.
Did you consider relieving Mr Gatenby of his duties and putting
somebody in place who would manage the thing afresh?
(Sir David Omand) Of course.
97. You did. Thank you, that is all I want to
know. That is all about management and I have said unkind things
about your senior colleagues as well as I have said glowing things
about your junior colleagues.
(Sir David Omand) May I also, please,
98. Not at the moment, Sir David. I want you
to reflect for a second before I ask you about your management
experience, your management training and then we will turn to
Mr Gatenby. Let me understand, if I may, whether you agree with
these things. Leaping out of the report, if I can give you the
paragraphs which you will not need because you know them well,
would you agree there are these areas of management failure: failure
to test adequately; failure to train properly; failure to forecast
future volume; failure to provide contingency planning; failure
to provide an adequate public interface in times of crisis; in
short, a failure of management? Would you agree with that?
(Sir David Omand) Yes.
99. Thank you very much indeed. As you have
made that judgment let me ask you, because you have a hugely impressive
CV and you are a very important person and a very senior civil
servant I know, how much management training have you had during
your career? Beyond two week courses at the Civil Service College,
have you ever actually been trained in management?
(Sir David Omand) Yes, I have had a number of training