Don’t believe the hype

Zombie Money
Photo by rendzu

It sucks to have a reputation problem. But when you take over an organization that has mismanaged $1B of public money.

Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter released a scathing report in the fall that found the agency had mismanaged $1 billion of taxpayers’ money, with little oversight. CBC News

It probably helps explain why I”m so distrusting even when hearing the new leader make noise around doing the things to better help the citizens.

“The sooner we can have a crisper definition of what’s in this for the patient … the sooner the public who’s paying for all of this will see the value of it” – eHealth Ontario, CEO Greg Reed

This seems like a pretty clear question that should have been asked before starting this Billion Dollar eHealth Debacle. The lack of transparency, the lack of accountability, the lack of a measure of success. I find it challenging regardless of the pedigree of the new CEO (former Dundee Bank of Canada chief and long-time McKinsey & Co. consultant) that he will be able to deliver. We need to stand up and demand better from our politicians and those that lead our publicly funded institutions.

When it comes to government agencies and activities it’s the appearance of impropriety that matters most. We as citizens should demand the best for our dollars. One of the cornerstones of open government is transparency (and accountability). We need individuals that dream big, that are willing to report on their actions, and be accountable for the deliverables. Process is important, it is no substitute for results. Meritocracies are not without their criticism, but when looking at the effectiveness of an individual or an organization’s ability to deliver.

Until we can decide on what is merit we’re left to suffer the traditional *cracies that run rampant:

the truth is out there - i want to believe
Image by megaul

We have seen crap keynote speakers, crap politicians, crap companies, crap performance all continue to use their social position and political power to manipulate the system in their personal favour. And as messed up as a meritocracy might be, it focuses on results – improving the lives of citizens, of customers, of the world – provided that we can define objective measures of success

“When I’m in Canada, I feel this is what the world should be like” – Jane Fonda

Reputation and trust matters. So does the ability to critically evaluate the merit of the companies that you purchase your goods from, the speakers at the conferences you attend, the truthliness of your newscasters or comedians. Be critical of the people. Be critical of their stories. Be critical about their point of view. Ask questions about their motives, motivations and desired outcomes.

The lack of critical thinking might help explain the inability to define success in Canada. Step back and ask questions.

3 thoughts on “Don’t believe the hype”

  1. The government should disband the eHealth initiative and let the private sector go at it. If there is a market, product(s) will be developed.

  2. I think there is a funny balance between letting companies go at it, e.g., Google Health, Microsoft HealthVault for Electronic Health Records; and recognizing the importance of electronic health records for all citizens and encouraging innovation and patient experiences using digital technologies. The bad news for residents of Ontario, eHealth Ontario supports neither, it's essentially a nice way to give money from the taxpayers to a bunch of consultants.

  3. It's actually worse than you think. The government is throwing more money at the problem the auditor general exposed. The issue was never that muffins were expensed, it was that that nothing was delivered, only the appearance of work was being done. It is just a general symptom of what is being done.

    For instance, the BCP Supply Chain Secretariat was found to have not put in $45 million in savings to front line care they stated they had done on their web site. Not even close. The solution? Give the secretariat more money and more staff so they can self-monitor the money they are given. So they lose money, misrepresent what they did with it, and the solution is to give them more money and staff, and allow them to report their own findings? A year ago they gave out over $50M. Excluding staff expenses, etc. Even Goldman Sach's didn't have the gall to do that. There will be more examples of this such as LHINs, CCO and other agencies in Ontario.

    As the kids used to say, it is redonkuluous.

    It really isn't the appearance of impropriety. It's impropriety. Regardless of the funding model or the incentive, money flushed down the toilet should be the same in the private sector as the public sector.

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