The Poynter (as in Kieran Poynter, PWC chairman) interim review into the HMRC identity leakage calamity has apparently been delivered. Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, will report its findings to the Commons on Monday 17th. All clear on the Whitehall front.
There appears to be confidence in senior government circles that it won't say HMRC suffers from systemic failure, code for a Darling resignation matter.
My view, based on acting HMRC boss Dave Hartnett's evidence to the Commons' Treasury Select Committee, is that HMRC does suffer from systemic failure. (Read it here.)
Any IT professional reading Hartnett's evidence will see an HMRC management team bereft of common sense about sensitive data transfers and ignorant of Data Protection Act provisions.
PWC receives a lot of business from government and is involved with Northen Wreck. If Poynter fingered a Darling resignation then it's likely elephantine Whitehall memory banks would never forget it.
The expectation is that Poynter will identify limited and isolated senior and mid-management failings which won't expose the Chancellor, and thus one G Brown whose skin he's protecting, to a resignation responsibility.
Gordon will then be able to enjoy his Christmas mince pies at his manse.
The potential HMRC scapegoat, assistant director Nigel Jordan, has been summoned to appear at the Treasury Committee but is refusing under the so-called Osmotherly Rules which enable civil servants to with hold information.
Brown failed to say that all necessary civil servants would give evidence to Commons committees in his appearance before the Liaison Committee yesterday, saying let's wait for the Poynter report.
Ah, do we see a pattern here?
Treasure committee chairman Edward Leigh is convinced that the systemic failure in the HMRC is caused by its ill-judged and botched cost-cutting birth through the merger of HM Customs and the Inland Revenue. This merger was initiated by Gordon Brown when he was at the Treasury. If Darling has to resign then the HMRC buck stops very publicly at the door of 10, Downing Street.
Hartnett has said repeatedly that head count reductions played no part in the data loss. The prediction is that he will keep his job, uttering immortal words such as 'learning from our mistakes' and 'becoming world-class.' Nigel Jordan could possibly be best advised to polish his CV and, perhaps, apply for a job at PWC.
Alternatively he may get a mouth-closing but trouser pocket-enlarging pay-off.