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Complaint Against the DfES: the Miscarriage of Family Policy
Please find enclosed a formal complaint filed on 26 April 2005 with the DfES Permanent Secretary, Sir David Normington, and five relevant Ministers.
The complaint flows from DfES mismanagement of family policy.
You will see from the response (28th April - attached) that the matter is under formal investigation. We have since had a further communication from Sir David requesting additional evidence.
The attachment 'full text' is the original 26th April submission; the file 'covering correspondence' contains the covering letters .
I would be grateful if you would:
- acknowledge receipt of
this email and its attachments
Would you please ensure that this email accompanies your internal NAO forward.
Could I, in particular, draw your attention to the letter scheduled for release on 20 May in 'Covering Correspondence'?
Your thoughts would be appreciated.
I append a brief summary below.
This complaint is, in the first instance, against a DfES Civil Servant who wasted two years and £1,000,000 on an unauthorised family law project.
The matter runs a little deeper.
It seems that the civil servant in question (a Mr Bruce Clark) may have a track-record of commandeering initiatives, twisting them to his own purpose, assuring Ministers that he continued to work on the originally approved project - and then producing something different.
One thing is ordered, another delivered.
Hence the 'Early Interventions' complaint, where an agreed reform (8 years in development) was covertly replaced by Mr Clark in favour of a personal venture to which no proper thought was given, and which seems to have crashed-on-launch, after the wastage of a million pounds and two years of phantom-work.
You will see that, in the process, a Green Paper ('Parental Separation') was diluted to the point of inutility.
You will further note that something similar happened - involving the same civil servant - on a wider bundle of issues which went through on the sly 2000-2001 and which are now wreaking a baleful harvest regularly reported in the Press.
I paste below a recent item from the Sunday Telegraph.
Only six couples sign up for Hodge's 1 million pound mediation scheme
PATRICK HENNESSY - Political Editor
”A one-million pound government project aimed at mediating between warring parents has attracted just six couples in its first six months. Margaret Hodge, the children's minister, now faces accusations that she introduced the Family Resolutions pilot scheme simply to try to ward off protests from the Fathers4Justice pressure group until after the general election, expected on May 5….
Ministers expected at least 3,500 couples to join the scheme which, if successful, was to be implemented in courts across the country.
A parliamentary written answer from Mrs Hodge, however, has revealed that only 25 couples were referred between September and March, with only six of them attending the "parent planning" stage.
The scheme, which cost an estimated pounds 1 million to set up, now appears close to collapse…”
The above relates to the spoiler project (Family Resolutions) which Mr Clark swapped for the Early Interventions project.
Dear Mr Mortimer
Thank you for your email, receipt of which I hereby acknowledge. I have passed your email and its attachments to the team here at the NAO with responsibility for the audit of the DfES for their consideration. One of my colleagues will write to you in due course.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
Dear Sir David:
Please find attached by way of electronic submission the supplementary papers on EI referred to in our letter of 11 May 2005.
I confirm that these same papers were posted to you in hard copy by first class post today.
Save to the extent that the Department seeks further discovery, this submission concludes the prosecution case in respect of EI.
The MSbP papers continue in preparation; I would hope they are within two weeks or so of conclusion.
The next issue is the Department's internal procedures.
Perhaps the outstanding matters can be dealt with by way of a reply to our letter of 20 May.
Dear Mr Sayers,
Thank you for your email of 19 May on behalf of the Comptroller and Auditor General acknowledging receipt of the initial complaint against Mr Bruce Clark (DfES).
Please now find attached an electronic version of the Supplementary Papers on EI submitted in hard copy to Sir David Normington today.
So you should know more easily how matters stand, I set out below a procedural overview.
Could I draw your specific attention to Items 6, 7 and 8?
A Procedural Snapshot: 20 May 2005
1. On 26 April 2005, Consensus FLR submitted a formal complaint against Mr Bruce Clark on two counts:
(i) Mismanagement of Early
2. On 28 April Sir David acknowledged receipt, offering a substantive reply when the matter had been fully investigated.
In a subsequent letter, dated 5 May, Sir David sought the submission of further relevant papers. In a reply dated 11 May, Consensus FLR outlined a likely tiMETAble for two further submissions, one as to EI, and the other as to MSbP
3. On 20 May 2005 Consensus submitted the supplementary papers in respect of EI, completing the EI leg of the case against Mr Clark.
4. It is these new papers that are attached to this email.
5. The supplementary papers for the MSbP submission continue in preparation.
6. Hence two issues remain outstanding:
(i) Consensus: to finalise and submit supplementary papers in respect of MSbP
(ii) DfES: to consider and indicate how the case against Mr Clark will proceed
7. Given that the first of these two matters is well in hand, it is this second issue which is now on the table.
8. The NAO's input would be welcome.
9. Our email of today's date to Sir David is pasted below.