Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Sum thing wrong


W Edwards Deming said that while effective managers would be satisfied to get things generally right, accountants preferred to get them precisely wrong. This sums up the perspective of Tony Poulter, of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, quite well (NCE last week).

His precise assertions about the Private Finance Initiative and Public Private Partnerships consistently outperforming the public sector, and being able to make private companies better able to apply their ideas and skills, are plain wrong. There are many examples of the public sector outperforming the private sector as a client.

Take the Highways Agency's most recent successes, Hong Kong MTRC, the Australian Department of Defence, some of our local government partnerships, and the jewel in the crown, the Sydney Olympics. And there are PFI/PPP disasters; those that were not still-born, that is.

It is all, as Stephen Glaister points out, a matter of leadership - not incentives as claimed by Poulter. You do not have to incentivise our excellent engineers to do a good job, you just have to remove the bureaucratic rubbish that gets in the way.

If we can get the right kind of leadership for underground rail projects then a world class job will be done - without PPP.

Professor John Carlisle, JCP, Broom Hall, Broomhall Road, Sheffield S10 2DR

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.