Both this week’s Municipal Journal and the polemical Liberal Conspiracy web site have thrown more light on the Treasury’s Spending Challenge– see my various posts on Vote for lean thinking in governmentIf a  web site gives up is it a sign of success?, Bad practice in government, and HMG web site in transition (thinks – am I getting obsessed with the subject?).

I didn’t know whether to tag this entry under lean thinking, off the wall, or two new tags I’ll resist adding – weird and sad.  I think the story could qualify under all four.

This is the essence of it.

The site has been reined in because it has been bombarded with a mixture of ideas, many of which were at the plain nasty end of the spectrum – how to “deal” with immigrants, un-married mothers, benefits “scroungers” etc etc.

Rather more amusingly our fellow citizens seem to have come up with a number of creative ideas to save taxpayers’ money:

  • a windfall tax on people called Steve [or Dave, Nick, Eric…?]
  • sell the unemployed after six months on benefits
  • force cats to spend one hour per day on electrical treadmills [on the basis of our cat’s daily routine that would produce zero energy]
  • MPs’ housing allowances to be replaced by tents.

It does all suggest the creation of the site was a bit of a rushed job (shouldn’t have been since public servants had already had six weeks to contribute to a similar site before this one went public).  Perhaps HM Treasury also need to learn a bit more about moderation of public forums.

Once they get rid of the vicious and weird let’s hope the serious suggestions do emerge in public.  Otherwise the whole exercise will have failed even the most basic test of consultation standards.

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