Today's award goes to the British Department for International Development.
MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) attacked the development department for not foreseeing that dangerous wind conditions on the South Atlantic territory of St Helena would mean that commercial aircraft would be unable to use a new airport.
. . .
The UK overseas territory could only be reached by sea and the new airport was meant to improve accessibility and boost tourism, with the intention of making the island self-sufficient.
The airport was meant to start operating in May 2016 but test flights a month before revealed the problems with "wind shear".
While the airport has since handled a small number of flights the wind conditions have prevented the operation of the planned commercial service.
The PAC report said: "The Department for International Development has spent £285.5 million [about US $363 million] of taxpayers' money on building an airport in St Helena that is not usable by commercial airlines.
"It is staggering that the department did not foresee and address the impact of difficult wind conditions on landing commercial aircraft safely.
"The department was evasive on the question of who should be held responsible, and is yet to hold anyone to account, either internally or externally for the failure to identify this fundamental issue. Nor has it identified the extent or cost of remedial action required.”
The problem of wind shear on St Helena was noted by Charles Darwin on his voyage on the Beagle in 1836 and the MPs challenged DfID about why it had commissioned an airport paid for by the British taxpayer, without properly appreciating the danger of this effect.
There's more at the link.
Here's a video clip of a test flight by a Boeing 737-800 to the new airport. The aircraft was bought specifically for the St. Helena service. The video was a promotional clip by the island's government, before it was realized that wind shear would make regular service impractical. The wind is blowing strongly in the clip, and can be heard over the microphones.
Spiffy-looking little airport . . . pity it's unusable. I wonder if anyone will ever be held accountable for that screw-up? Knowing bureaucrats, I'd say it's unlikely. Besides, it's only taxpayers' money that was wasted - so who cares?