Plenty of creativity at the Committee hearings
Having watched both the Public Accounts committee and Justice Select Committee hearings over the last couple of days, there is so much to comment on, but two points that immediately spring to mind are as follows:
The first is Helen Grant MP stating that there has to be some greater creativity in career progression for interpreters so that Tier 3 can progress to Tier 1. I fail to see what novel thinking is required, given that a well-established career path already exists. All that is required is for these aspiring linguists to trot along to the CIoL and take the DPSI and/or Met Police tests, pass them, and then clock up the 100 hours experience required. Am I pointing out the blindingly obvious? Of course, there is the small issue about whether tier 3 'terps, and those in tier 2 that don't have DPSI, would be willing to stump up the exam fees when they know the chances of them passing are quite slim. Maybe the creative thinking is about how to bypass DPSI completely, perhaps introducing a brand new qualification devised and administered by Capita?
The second big issue is the conflicting views over exactly who knew what and when about Middlesex University pulling the plug on their delivery of assessments. Both committees and the NAO were under the clear impression - based on the testimony of Brooke Townsley - that he (Mr Townsley) had made clear his 'profound reservations' regarding ALS's plans in a detailed report some time before the start of the FWA roll-out, and that ALS had not made these reservations known to the MoJ, but had instead mis-interpreted Mr Townsley's comments to put a more positive gloss on them. This is completely refuted by Wheeldon and Capita who claim that Mr Townsley and/or Middlesex University made no such adverse comments about the assessment procedure until Capita started chasing up the University to find out why they were so far behind in assessing and marking their linguists. It was only at this point that the relationship broke down, Andy Parker of Capita claiming that Mr Townsley seemed perfectly happy with what ALS were planning for as long as they kept paying him as a consultant.
If what Parker and Wheeldon are saying is correct (and that is one hell of a big if), it would appear that when Mr Townsley went along to the NAO and provided his testimony, it falls into the category of what is colloquially referred to as 'throwing his toys out of the pram'. It is regrettable that Middlesex University did not take the opportunity to make a submission to either committee, as all of the other interested parties did, just to set the record straight. Now that the hearings have been completed, it seems that Capita and Wheeldon had the final say on this matter, which leaves the University in a very bad light, having been portrayed as an organisation which took on a contract and then failed miserably to deliver.
However, all is not lost, I expect the University could - if it was so inclined - make a late submission to the committees before they write their reports. Any volunteers want to cut and paste this article into an e-mail to the Vice-chancellor, and all of the other members of the University council?