What's wrong with Wales

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Culturenet - education promises ignored

Culturenet Cymru has failed to deliver on its promise to deliver topic packs for teachers by March 2005. It's nearly November and they still say 'Topic Packs are currently under development'

Perhaps the fact that Culturenet's Education Officer departed (along with the Office Administrator, the IT Manager, the Data/Web Officer...) explains the tardiness on this project; it doesn't explain why their published schedule hasn't been updated in the last seven months.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Culturenet: grinding to a halt

Culturenet Cymru have resorted to the reason of cowards - threats and smears

- Peter Black, Member of the Welsh Assembly

Culturenet Cymru is the publicly-funded body that brought you the faked and falsified 100 Welsh Heroes poll. Since its inception to date Culturenet has been given one and a half million pounds of taxpayers' money by the Welsh Assembly. What's it been doing recently with all that cash? Misleading us, certainly.

Culturent Cymru says it's working on a set of projects. Let's see how it's doing with the half a million pounds it was given for 2004-2005:

Culturenet Cymru's Schedule of Work
adding 10 new books to the Books from the Past website   30/09/05 Fail - The website still has only the same 10 books it launched with
Add 3000 items to the 'Gathering the Jewels' website October 2005Impossible to tell - the website's links have been wrecked by staff at the National Library¹. Most of the existing links in Google and from other sites are now invalid. A return to the first year when the website was unusable. (update: site seems to have been put back) but all the same, there were the promised 3,000 items in the pipeline a year and a half ago and rather inventive arithmetic was being used even then
Add 'advice and guidance' and teachers' topic packs to Gathering the Jewels March 2005 Fail - there are no teachers' topic packs available and no specific advice and guidance pages have been added
Communities Cymru September 2005Unknown - the website doesn't seem to have changed since January 2005, 2 months before this was included on the promised delivery list
Copyright Toolkit delivery March 31st 2005 Fail - no sign of the tool, no announcement of completion
Ongoing digitisation December 2006 No further information
Accessible version of the Cultured Cymru quiz ? Fail - this website was bought from a Cardiff development company; although Culturenet ran website accessibilty seminars it obviously doesn't think the matter important, even though it has made a promise of delivery of an accessible site

In the light of this failure to deliver on just about everything it's probably a wise decision not to publish details of projects for 2005-2006. More alarmingly, the £250,000 from the Assembly Government for this year is supposed to include funding for a new 'specialised' management information system.

Culturenet's history of IT systems purchasing is abysmal, although an attempt to recoup money from a supplier, responsible for the first, unworkable incarnation of the Gathering the Jewels website was prevented, apparently because embarrassing questions might have been asked about project management - and after all, it doesn't matter if you're spending someone else's money.

¹ Gathering The Jewels URLs had been tidied up using a Win32 version of Apache's MOD_REWRITE - it looks like someone has taken over the website without understanding how this worked