IWJ on IBW
Watch this space? The full story is now here.
The Permanent Secretary Gillian Morgan describing the current crop of policies governing International Business Wales expense claims as "this mish-mash of policies," "cobbled together" and "not fit for purpose". That's pretty clear then, as was the pledge that they're about to be reworked, the first of many "re" words used this morning.
Of the 11% of claims where the policies governing them are perfectly clear - but the reasons for claiming are not e.g. football kits, school text books, substantial bar and bar hire bills, she was "cautiously optimistic" that this part of the system - in other words probably one of the most risky parts of the system - showed no sign of systematic abuse.
It's also worth noting that, given this started with claims about "first class life styles" and IBW officials turning left on planes when the rules said they ought to have turned right, some of the first class tickets claimed and made public a few months ago turned out to be perfectly legitimate. Names were named back then. We can't name the names now exonerated because we don't know who they are. When all becomes clear, we should.
"This is not a sick part of the system" said the Permanent Secretary. Yes, there are questions to be answered but she "has seen worse reports in other organisations". She had, incidentally, been through the evidence at first hand: "I was a very bored bunny for two days".
Would this have been picked up if it hadn't been for the Lib Dems and "that apology" the First Minister was forced to make? Yes, it would she insisted. Work had been underway since earlier in the year to sort out the system and these problems would have been picked up.
What would not have happened, you might be tempted to suggest, is that the detailed evidence would have been made public, put before journalists and put before you in the way that it has been today.
The Economic Development Minister and Deputy First Minister didn't look like a bored bunny. Ieuan Wyn Jones didn't look like a particularly happy bunny either when the figures in the tables handed out turned out to be wrong. They were wrong at the second attempt too. A problem with printers he could have done without on a day the accuracy and record keeping of others was under attack.
On the implications of the benchmarking report questioning IBW's performance? I noted four "re-" words: he talked of the need to "refocus", "reshape", "realign" and totally "rethink" the future of economic policy in Wales.
Had it taken him two years in the job and a growing amount of criticism of his department to come to that conclusion? Granted he's had other things to deal with recently - like steering Wales through the recession for a start - but this report is pretty damning and it's come out on his watch.
He took the rap - but only kind of. "Look, I could have accepted the report and said, there we are. I haven't. It crystallized a great deal that I'd felt already ... I'm accepting that things in the past need to change. That's a strength".
He was sitting next to a woman whose I.D lanyard had the words "Safe and Sound" printed on it. I'm not sure all of those offiicials crammed into Mr Jones' office felt that way by the end of the briefing.