You know, I’m not surprised by the mistake in VAT strategy releases recently. It’s been a busy couple of weeks, things will change, and if ministers don’t make up their mind until twenty minutes before legislation hits the presses, how are civil servants supposed to keep up with that?
On top of that, once an organisation gets as big and as responsibility-shy as the civil service, the number of mistakes that creep in will be immense. Mistakes happen everywhere, and you can’t ensure against them. You can make them less likely by spending time to double check things, and by disciplining the worst offenders, but that couldn’t happen in this case.
But here’s the thing: this was a supporting document on a website – no real harm, except to the governing party and it’s not like I’m going to mourn that. But the same circumstances happen every time the government rush out legislation – so there are bound to be such mistakes in the laws of the land. And since this government has produced more legislation than ever before (especially in complicated financial matters), that’s a lot of scope for mistakes.
Mistakes which result in confusion for the entire population, and likely other unimportant things like criminals getting off and innocent people being labelled as criminals.
So once again, I’m not surprised by the actual news story. But I’m concerned by the trends which it illustrates.