Monday, 5 July 2010

Public Accounts Committee - Mind Your Body Language

Permanent Secretary with a nose for problems

Northern Ireland Water's tactic of keeping the Department for Regional Development at arm's length

Paul Priestly, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Regional Development, and Laurence MacKenzie, CEO of Northern Ireland Water

Lian Patterson, Chief Finance Officer at the Department for Regional Development, fielding questions from the Northern Ireland Assembly's Public Accounts Committee.

 "Can I have a comfort break?"

More snapshots from the Democracy Live archive.

Touching oneself, especially on the nose, mouth or eyes, is especially significant, as it points to a certain emotional difficulty. Such signs may relate to a sense of embarrassment, mental discomfort or tension that an individual feels when he lies. Sometimes self-touching may be an attempt at self-encouragement and support.

The Permanent Secretary certainly looked like a man in need of support but these gestures might cast doubt on some of the answers being given by the witnesses to the members of the Public Accounts Committee. The allegation that sacked members of the Northern Ireland Water Board were victims of a show trial did little to ease the tension of the proceedings.

NI  Water is, allegedly, a Centre of Procurement Expertise (CoPE)

These procurement organisations are granted CoPE status by the Procurement Board following a third-party accreditation exercise that assesses the extent to which CoPEs meet high standards of good practice.

Perhaps this third party needs to face the Public Accounts Committee too!

Added July 5

Perhaps the effects of this exchange at a PAC meeting with NI Water on June 25 [pdf file] were still hanging in the air:

"Mr Dallat: That probably suggests that it should not be possible to put a carpet or cuddly toy in the sewer in the first place.
Mr MacKenzie: People lift manhole covers and put those things down.
Mr Dallat: That is disgusting.

Added July 7

Hansard Report of July 1 PAC meeting on Governance of NI Water

Transcription of Dixon letter to PAC chairman