back to article BOFH: Balancing the budget...

"Got a bit of work on I see," the Boss says, peering around the large mound of cartons clogging up Mission Control. "No, no, things are very quiet at the moment." "So what's all this then?" "This," I say, tapping on a carton. "is a... laptop, one of a batch of... nine, while this >tap< is a top-of-the-line workstation, one …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Danny

    ah yes

    should've seen that one coming, but didn't...

    Guess i'm not very sharp today, oh well.

  2. JP Strauss
    Thumb Up

    This is boring

    I never get to say anything negative about the BOFH articles.

    Well done to Simon.

  3. Jeroen Braamhaar


    OMG! his one took me a second read to figure out what the HELL was going on. DOWNRIGHT BRILLIANT!!!!!!!

  4. Andrew Badera
    Thumb Down

    Soft with seasonal spirit?

    Where's the viciousness? The devilish scheming?

  5. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Smelling of Roses or just more shIT for every year?

    ""Whose machines do you think are blocking up our office?" :-) Clever enough for all those that wallow and play in Such Heuristic IT, Simon. An interesting logic which I'm sure is widely spread..... but Progressive IT it Aint although who's to say that it isn't the Prudence Approach to Government.

    QuITe a SMART allegorical tale, that, Simon .......

  6. Andrew Carpenter

    It's true I tells ya

    As a cog in the public-sector gears, I can assure you that this riduculous situation is unfortunately 100% accurate.

  7. Michael
    Thumb Up

    The government model

    Having worked for the UK civil service (albeit 17 years ago), I can vouch for that government method. Our office used to get all sorts of new desks, chairs & plants come year end (remember, it was 17 years ago, so there wasn't as much nice & fancy IT desktop stuff to blow the budget on!)....

    Nice one Simon, as per usual :)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andrew Badera

    One of the beancounters is _under_ the boxes.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Sorry to say

    affects the private sector as well. Though we run tax year. My new lappy should arrive mid feb and that stonking server I want will be ordered after the hols :-)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep, all true

    I loved the end of year order. So many unnecessary things to plax with.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Awesome stuff

    The BoFH always rocks, but one was particularly good :) thanks Simon.. when can we see some new books and merchandise? When can we expect a BoFH branded cattle prod?

  12. Paul

    If anyone wants proof of this happening...

    then just keep an eye out for all the spending on pointless road things like mini round abouts and new white lines in Feb/March. You will be shocked.

  13. Stu
    Thumb Up

    Oh yesssssssssss..........

    It may have taken 861 words to get there, but the punch line makes my year complete!

    Oh praise the BOFH and PFY in all their wisdom and glory!

    I wonder when the PFY will start vying for power again.....


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: If anyone wants proof of this happening... @ Paul

    Quite... only for the Highway Agency to go ripping up all that nice work they did in March in May to put the real thing in there, or something similarly retarded.

  15. damian fell
    IT Angle

    Arrgh the insanity

    I seem to rememebr back in a past association with a university chemistry department that there was a frenzied purchasing of such high value returnable items as Gold or Platinum crucibles before the year end, only for them to be reurned to the suppliers for a credit note after the year end.

    I'm sure that there were more platinum cricibles in ciruclation than actual experiments that could be done with them at certain times of the year!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feb/March council spending... heavily influenced by the weather.

    Councils set aside a large chunk of dosh to pay for salting & gritting the roads over the winter. If it turns out to be comparatively mild, all that cash is unspent.

    So you now have a council approaching financial year-end that needs to offload money like it's going out of fashion (for exactly the reasons outlined in the piece).


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I lol'd

    As usual.

    Only commenting to tell Amanfrommars to shut up, people don't do that enough for my liking.

  18. herman

    Empty boxen on Capex

    We used to keep two empty PC boxes on the capital equipment account. We then purchased spares to 'repair' them, as needed for other projects and built complete PCs from the spares, which were then not capital items, necessitating keeping the old empty boxes...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    What copyright ?!

    This reminds me of my student's years. Our university let us froze to death for the major part of the winter in case it would last longer than expected, and all of a sudden would roast us for some weeks to get rid of the fuel surplus, generally just _after_ the weather had turned to easter again. The temperature would rise from ~15°C to 22+°C in a matter of days.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    You order 10 superduper desktops with large screens, etc, to spend the remaining 20k

    so 2k a piece, and that's sterling? I can probably match that hardware for half the cost, then the other half can be my 'consultancy fee's'... any takers? Paypal payment is fine, as long as it's in time for me to nip to the pub. An extra grand always goes down well at the pub!

  21. Highlander

    Too blankety blank true!

    Excellent piece, and as others have said, 100% accurate. Especially the bean-counter thing. Best of both worlds is to be the BOFH and have a tame bean counter - the so called 'beancounter owes me a favor' or BOMF.

    My favorite was the *huge* software purchase at the end of the year. No media, documentation or any other product was received, but we did get a single piece of paper confirming the purchase, this was then booked as received.

    The sheer panic of not knowing if the suppliers could meet the last minute PC orders was always fun. Pushing vendors to deliver anything as long as it arrived before the end came...

    Love that idea about keeping a couple of dying PCs around so you can order all the parts needed to 'repair' them. Shift some expense from the Capital budgets. Without actually tracing every 'repair' there is no way to know this is happening. Just keep re-using the asset tags for the 'repaired' PCs

    I wonder if I can get my PC 'repaired'? Sounds like an excellent reason to have (more than) a few PCs around that are built by BOFH/PFY and not Dell or HP/Compaq.

  22. A J Stiles

    Fuel Savings

    If you want to save on heating fuel, you could do worse than spin-off your boilers and radiators to a separate, wholly-owned company. You order your heating fuel -- oil, gas or coal as usual. But now your company has no heating equipment of its own, so the heating fuel is now technically waste. You pay your heating company to "recycle" the "waste" for you (by burning it in your old boilers) and claim back the VAT you paid on it. The loss you take on the waste fuel is also calculated to drop you into a lower tax bracket. Meanwhile, your heating company can apply for assorted government grants to ensure they are disposing of the dangerous waste gas / oil / coal in the most environmentally-friendly manner possible (i.e. ensuring the heat goes into your building and not up the flue). They might even be able to get a grant to build a small CHP system (use heating fuel to run engine, rated to emit as much "waste" heat as you would want from your boiler; engine's cooling water is circulated through radiators in building; engine turns alternator; end result is, you spend a bit more on heating fuel but the excess comes out in the form of electricity -- and for the same price per unit as your heating fuel!)

  23. steve lampros

    working for a gubment office . . .

    All I can say is "NO COMMENT"


    I love my job!

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Cupboards full of envelopes

    It took me a long time to work out why we had so many old but unused envelopes.

    Maybe you guessed already.

    On the approach to year end.our small budget had to be spent, quick.

    So what do the bosses do, they stock up with things we'll always need. We always need envelopes. We had so many for so long that the sticky didn't work any more.

    So yes, it's all too true.

  25. D. M
    IT Angle

    It happens everywhere

    So true. And I tell ya this is true everywhere.

    I have a true story from my workplace. One dept had "this project budget" to spend on IT. Just before the end of 30/06 (our financial year), they spent it to order IT stuff for the planned stuffs which they should spend at the beginning. Then there was a problem, the receive party had same budget problems and ordered the lot of stuff because they have money have to go, and used the our dept lack of action as the perfect excuse. Our goods arrived earlier then their order, and suddenly they have "extra" money they cannot spend. A "war" broke off, and our dept held on.

    And I can tell ya same thing happens in other country as well. It seems all gov use the same budget model.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    RE: It happens everywhere

    Not everywhere.

    The managers where I work get hefty bonuses if they run under budget, and the only thing that goes up or down is the ridiculously high profit/revenue targets that are costing both us AND the Print Ops team their bonuses.

    Still, gimme a couple of machines to tinker with, something to rest my feet on and a pub over the road and I'm happy enough. ;)

  27. Anonymous Coward

    If only...

    I work in a school and we usually run out of budget by the end of the financial year just trying to buy the stuff we really do need. In fact, we often have to borrow against next year's general expenses budget to buy what we need for the end of this year.

    We do Zero Budgeting, which means we have to account for all the money we want to spend in the coming financial year a few months before we actually start spending it! If anything unforseen comes up (and this is IT support!) then we have to go cap-in-hand to the beancounters to get emergency funds.

    It may seem daft to run with a bigger budget than necessary and then 'waste' the money at the end of the year, but it's much better than running out of dosh just when you really need it.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    End of year budget mismatch

    AT&T had an interesting approach to the problem. They gave the department people a bonus of 10% of the unspent cash. Talk about an incentive to get things done cheaper.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Government toys

    About 35 years ago, I worked in a government lab. We needed some thermometers - older readers may remember the mercury-in-glass type, they then cost a couple of quid each. Unfortunately we could not buy any because we had used up our consumables budget.

    Fortunately we had some capital budget that had to be spent, otherwise next year's would be reduced. So, we bought 3 state of the art digital thermometers and controllers for about 300 quid each...

  30. Tawakalna
    Dead Vulture

    Stop giving away our secrets!

    Simon, please stop telling all and sundry how my colleagues and I have been conning the beancounters for all these years; sooner or later someone with some actual authority will cotton on as to why the IT Dept gets all the best kit but that it can never be found on the premises because it's being <ahem> "tested" off-site. I haven't got the new F.E.A.R. expansion yet and those two 8800 Ultras that the erm *print server* really "needs" hasn't arrived in goods-in because of the post strike in Burslem!

    My five-fingered discount is a perk that I richly deserve for putting up with imbecile users every day. So kindly desist from giving all our trade secrets away to Joe Public... especially when a beancounter may be looking in!

    ...ah, b*gger it; those muppets don't read the Reg, they're too busy being ** (i.e. tw4ts) and playing with their abacuses. They'll all be trooping in come New Year with the seasonal "I bought this computer/laptop/freeview box for Christmas, but...."

  31. Peter Fielden-Weston


    I didn't know Simon did documentaries.

    When did you visit my work place Simon?

  32. Ed
    IT Angle

    Thank goodness this doesn't happen where I work.

    Around here, the operative date is the invoiced date, rather than the delivered date. Faxes count. So there's a lot of faxed invoices come the last day of the last bi-week of the year (which generally means in the January 2-13 range, when most of our suppliers don't have their lines tied up with other customers - except, of course, those complaining because their budget's been cut due to shipping problems).

    What's really fun is every so often, the last bi-week ends either December 31 or January 1, and not everybody's quick enough to realize it before the holidays start - and it's astonishing (at least to those people) just how many people take off Dec 25 through January 1. (Last time, something like 55% of departments wound up with their budgets cut. Thank goodness for the Sarbanes Oxley change freeze, or we would'a had ours cut, too. For the curious, we spied something interesting when we were studying the calendar trying to figure out when we could *do* stuff again.)

  33. Sarah Skelding

    Ah, virement.

    Lovely word, that, and always entertaining to watch at the end of the accounting period? Where did the new desks come from? Virement, where all new kit comes from after 11 months of budget drought.

  34. Mark Nelson


    We have that in my workplace starting every September 1. We call it End of the Year Madness. The Budget People call it things that turn the air BLUE.

  35. Rhys
    Thumb Up

    New Zealand Ministry of Ag and Fisheries

    used that system till the late 90's dad enjoyed going through the catalogues from suppliers deciding which bits he wanted before the end-of-financial-year departmental what-toys-to-get meeting.

    $30,000 for a machine that would get used once every 4 years and depreciated to nil and sold off for peanuts to one of the staff after 10 was about par for the course...

  36. Peter Mc Aulay

    Ooh, that touched a nerve.

    That's not the Government model, that's the standard corporate model as well, IME. On my first job I did such a good job at saving IT costs I was "rewarded" with MS Exchange rather than something decent for our new mail server just to get the budget spent. That's a mistake I'll not repeat in a hurry. I've seen the same cretinous behaviour in many places since.

    Nowadays I have my own company, and if we ever by accident hire a beancounter like that I will quitely take him round the back and execute him myself. Few things can push my angry buttons quite like this.

  37. Daniel B.


    I just had flashbacks of my previous job as a State Gov't temp worker. End of year meant lots of buying, and I mean stupid and insane volumes. Unfortunately, even if our area was the one doing the buying, the 90+ workforce area had only something like $8000 for computer equipment ... *yearly*. Guess why half the office was stuck with win98 and real slow PC's. Good thing another area had craploads of budget to spend and sent us their surplus equipment...

  38. Martin S. Stoller
    Thumb Up

    Just go to love those fellow BOFHs...

    Ah yes.

    Sounds all VERY familiar...


  39. leigh porter

    I like my new cluster.

    Well I am very happy with my new cluster of 8 quad cpu quad core boxes and the various bits of PDA....

    Oh, I cannot be bothered to finnish writing this, it's Friday and I am waiting for the last PO to be signed so I can fax it over and get it in thie years spend..

    Merry Christmas!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worked that way here too

    At $WEMAKECOPRADIOS one year our engineering team had such a budget surplus near year end, that all engineers that had *any* reason to travel to customer sites were made eligible to get company cars - and we all did. Once that justification no longer existed for me, as I had insufficient business mileage, the car was taken back. In compensation I got an annual salary boost of $6K.

This topic is closed for new posts.