RE: Ms Lincolnshire - civil servants
Having contracted on a number of UK government deals, both for vendors/resellers and actually for government departments, I can tell you the dithering and constant golapost moves produced by civil servants were not viewed as a problem by the majority of salespeople, indeed they looked forward to them as a means of gouging out more money. Only the stupid salespeople actually set payment for completion, the rest have been selling it to government departments on waypoints and daily rates for years, which means the more changes in project waypoints meant more money and more chargeable days. The techies and project managers used to groan about "project reallignments" because we could see the waste and idiocy involved, but the salespeople would rub their hands with glee. Meanwhile, the civil servants would merrilly push what often seemed random and ill-considered changes from senior mandarins and politicians as those constant changes kept them in a job. In short, there was no-one interested in pegging down the goalposts other than the Treasury beancounters.
What did annoy me was the number of times decisions were made by senior civil servants on projects without consulting people with actual technical knowledge. The number of times I'd sit through project kickoffs and see the outline as "we buy untested and new software here, slap it on kit which we have no experience with here, and - voila! - it all becomes a working system here", just beggars belief! And this was whilst sitting shoulder to shoulder with resident civil servant techies with that actual required knowledge, whom had not been consulted, equally shocked becuase they could see the gaps and were the ones expected to provide the magic pixie dust to somehow make the white elephant fly! Objections would be raised, likely problems pointed out, all ignored by the managers in charge (and the vendors, who would largely just like to sell the hardware or software and then scarper), and then we would all be back in the same room in six months for a "project reallignment meeting", where we'd start the whole circus again, whilst the salespeople involved would happilly be elsewhere placing orders for their new BMWs.