One of the many reasons put forward by Wheeldon and Parker to explain their dismal failure to fulfil the FWA requirements was the lack of ‘management information’ provided by the MoJ. I am intrigued by what sort of information they might have found useful in determining likely demand for interpreters. Perhaps, knowing what languages individual courts required, from where the interpreters travelled,  how much time was spent at court, etc. In other words, all the information provided by interpreters on the claim form they have to fill in at the end of each booking. Isn’t this what the court demands if the interpreter expects to receive payment?

What happened to all these claim forms after the payment is approved and the cheque is in the post? Are they all shredded, which is why the MoJ is in a situation where it spends huge amounts of taxpayers money, but has no idea where the money is going, or what it is being paid for? Overseeing  this shambles is Anne Beasley, Director General of Finance. One can only assume that she considers accountability to be a low priority. Personally, I wouldn’t trust her with managing a paper round.

If it wasn’t bad enough that the MoJ couldn’t be bothered to collect and analyse the data over the last 10 years, you would at least expect them to start collecting it as a preliminary step to implementing significant change. To anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of Quality improvement methods, gathering and analysing data on the existing arrangement – before you start fiddling with it – is blindingly obvious. It is essential to establish a benchmark against which future improvements can be measured. This is really basic stuff, but apparently something that the MoJ is incapable of doing for itself, it has to pay millions of pounds to Capita instead.

Anyhow, with the FWA in place, we can at least take comfort in knowing that the data is now being collected so that the MoJ can monitor what is going on. Or at least, that’s what I thought, until I received a response to an FOI request. I had asked about the numbers of assignments fulfilled by Tier 2 and Tier 3 linguists, only to be told by MoJ that they did not have this information. How is that possible, I ask, when this information is explicitly identified in the framework contract? The latest response from MoJ is as follows (anyone of a nervous disposition might want to sit down before reading on):

“….Above J2, you will find the statement ‘Individual Collaborative Partners will define any additional or alternative requirements in individual contract’ It is therefore for the MoJ to decide which pieces of management information Capita should provide as a matter of course, and it can vary from what is set out in J2. I can confirm that the Department does not hold the information requested, so this part of the response was correct….”

In other words, although the MoJ is paying Capita big fat wads of taxpayers’ cash to gather this data, the MoJ is choosing not to ask for all of the data it is paying for, even though it is perfectly entitled to do so. There is only one motive for this, and that is to suppress any information which reveals the true extent of Capita’s failure. The MoJ doesn’t have the information for no reason other than that it chooses not to ask for it.

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