The official Catalogue of Errors is to go online in the near future, it has been announced. The catalogue, an essential source of reference for almost all public enquiries, will be accessible to professional subscribers only, despite protests from freedom of information campaigners, because it was felt that allowing public access to the error creation process could be fatal in the wrong hands, as indeed it often is in the right hands.
While regular users such as the police and social services will pay millions for the service, the savings will still be massive when compared to the cost of updating, printing and distributing the catalogue four times a year as at present, on a scale that makes the Argos catalogue release look like a minor leafleting campaign. The current system is also prone to expensive errors and delays, given the indefensible mistakes that always seem to accompany the process.
The online version, overseen by an unaccountable quango, should have been available at the beginning of the year, but an investigation has revealed a series of foreseeable and preventable errors and shortcomings, accompanied by a lamentable lack of communication between senior managers and with external contractors, meaning that the roll out is inexcusably over budget. A full report will be available in the catalogue when it eventually goes live.
Subscribers will also have access to the sister publication, the Catalogue of Disasters, which is even further behind schedule because of procedural lapses. Oil company BP has a new entry in the corporate section, although it is well behind Union Carbide and Occidental Petroleum. In a separate section for disasters not directly causing death, Windows Vista heads up a list containing Betamax videos and the Sinclair C5.
Executives say the new service will be available by the end of August, barring unforeseen problems, although there was no room for complacency.