Outsourcing giant Capita has managed to place itself in an enviable position with the court interpreter contract.
True, the company has not yet met its performance target and its fans are few. But consider the limited fallout from such poor performance.
Early fines were waived on the grounds that penalties would harm its ‘investment’. Ministers protect it. And such improvements as did materialise were demonstrated through an exercise where the company marked its own homework – though now at least the MoJ is conducting some data audits.
Capita has, of course, managed to implement another GCSE business studies lesson. With the exception of its multiple wasted costs orders, which even the MoJ cannot magic away as a ‘burden on business’, it has externalised its costs to others.
Those ‘others’ number many of our readers, expert witnesses, the courts and defendants.
Is Capita to blame? Perhaps not. All the company has done is find points of arbitrage and vulnerability in a system it did not design. But future policymakers setting out to design a successor to this system may want to consider that such contracts – too big to fail, driven by doctrinaire commitment to privatisation and austerity – may not even deliver a saving.