Are charge codes ITs biggest problem?
Consider two companies: BigCo has a turnover of a billion a year. It employs thousands of staff and has an IT department that adheres rigourously to "best practices". On the other hand, LittleCo is run from a single building, has a handful of IT people and an open-door policy.
Try to get something done in BigCo and you have to fill in an intraweb based work request, citing what, when and who to charge the work to. At some point in the future - defined by the ITIL time frame for responding, you'll get an email back to say "we'll do X for you. It'll take Y person days and we'll charge you Z for it". Even if the entire IT staff is sitting around surfing for pr0n - sorry, that should say: testing internet security filters. You can tell that BigCo takes security very seriously - just look at how much time they charge to it every year.
In LittleCo, however it's a different story. Someone sticks their head around the door and says "Can I borrow you for half an hour? I'd like your opinion on this new project." "Yes, sure is the reply - I've just got to finish this Exchange problem and I'll pop over".
We find that LittleCo, while getting the work done, is universally panned by in the IT surveys for not having any quality control processes, procedures, cost-control or standards of service. Whereas BigCo can proudly point to the fact that last year it completed 97.1% of it's IT projects on-time and with 96.3% customer satisfaction. (BTW, 88% of those projects were security audits.)
Management by numbers is the accountants favourite game. It gives the (wrong) impression that things are
a.) under control
d.) indicate where improvements can be made.
Although, as we all know none of the above are in fact, true. Unless BigCo has the ability of contracting out work, if the internal price is too high, it's merely "funny money" and has no bearing on anything - especially what the implication of overspending would be. The more "control" a company puts in place, the more processes, reviews, procedures and methodologies - the larger the number of opportunities it gives to indolent staff to not do any work: "I'd love to help you, but you haven't performed a quality review", "certainly - but you need sign-off from the change committee first". and all the other lines that rattle round Dilbert-esque workplaces on a daily basis.
So it is with government IT. All their numbers tell them is that they are not producing results. However, since the numbers are the root-cause of the problem, they cannot self-implicate their own inefficiencies as the reason why stuff doesn't get done. It must be poor management, skills shortages, unclear objectives or changing policies. None of which are tangible or actionable - except by introducing more process and control to prevent them happening int he future.
Personally, I prefer having a head appear around a door anytime. The "head" quickly realises who gets the job done and who's dead-weight - and therefore destined for the next round of redundancies, if they don't move into a government job first.