MoD under Fire over Qinetiq Bid for Pounds 10bn PFI Training Deal ; DEFENCE_ Government Accused of Conflict of Interest Because of Its 20 per Cent Stake in Privatised Weapons Agency
Fortson, Danny, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
The Government has been accused of having a "clear conflict of interest" over its handling of a contest to award a pounds 10bn military training contract, the country's largest Private Finance Initiative to date.
Des Browne, the Secretary of State for Defence, is set to name the preferred bidder for its defence training rationalisation (DTR) programme, a 25-year contract to provide skills training to the armed forces, as early as October.
Among the bidders is Qinetiq, the former state-owned Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, which was floated this year and in which the MoD still holds a 19.3 per cent stake.
The involvement of Qinetiq in the bidding process created a "clear conflict of interest," said Mark Pritchard, the Conservative MP for The Wrekin in the West Midlands. "The Government can use its privileged position to award itself a multi-billion contract, not necessarily to facilitate best value for the taxpayer or to provide the very best training for our soldiers. The Government is in a near- impossible position to be able to make an objective and unbiased judgement."
Qinetiq has lost a quarter of its value since it floated in February, cutting the MoD's stake to about pounds 200m. Winning the contract would guarantee Qinetiq and its bidding partners multi- billion-pound revenue streams for years to come. …