ID Cards and the NPfIT – nobody is “responsible”

Cabinet ministers come and go, as do prime ministers, and heads of departments. So who will actually be responsible for ID cards or the NHS’s National Programme for IT? Nobody. Thank you to Brian Sherwood Jones for providing this excellent definition of responsibility, from the US Joint Committee on Atomic Energy.


“Responsibility is a unique concept: It can only reside and inhere in a single individual. You may share it with others but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it but it is still with you. Even if you do not recognise it or admit its presence, you cannot escape it. If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion, or ignorance, or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else. Unless you can point your finger at the man responsible when something goes wrong then you never had anyone really responsible.”

Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. “Radiation Safety and Regulation” 87th Congress 1st Session (Washington GPO 1961) p366 Adm HG Rickover

Links:

Brian Sherwood Jones

Senior responsible owner – a good idea subverted

HM Revenue and Customs – we’re not publishing lessons from IT-related problems

Megaprojects and risk

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