Archive for March 1, 2011

March Madness

March 1, 2011

The March Hare has a hard time keeping up with local government

Anyone who has been in local government for a fair period of time will have heard of March madness, and nearly all will have taken part it in one way or another. To the uninitiated March madness is an affliction where local government officers feel the need to use things up before the end of March and the current financial year.

It takes two forms.

The main form is the spending of budgets. Council officers are very good at watching the public’s cash for eleven months of the year. By and large they penny pinch and cut costs as far as possible and preserve their budgets as if their lives depended on it. However, once March comes round these same managers undergo a total change. They know that if they don’t spend their budget it might get taken away and therefore use March as an opportunity to find things that they’ve always wanted but not purchased for fear they couldn’t afford them. March is the month in which new equipment is bought and money is set aside for consultants to come in and do studies.

The worst example I ever heard was actually in a PCT where the managers invested their March derangement in a number of toys which would be given to children in poverty or other need. This was a good idea in theory but they massively over-ordered. Nine months later the storage space was costing too much and the toys were basically given away.