Magazine article Public Finance

MoD Staff Up in Arms over Privatisation of Training

Magazine article Public Finance

MoD Staff Up in Arms over Privatisation of Training

Article excerpt

Ministry of Defence outsourcing came under fire again this week when it emerged that three private consortiums had been shortlisted for £18bn in staff training contracts, while in-house bids were overlooked.

Civil service staff claimed the MoD might not get value for money because a small number of influential private contractors could dominate the supply of services.

The Public and Commercial Services union, which represents 15,000 MoD civil servants, claimed the bidding process for the contracts, which followed the Defence Training Review, was 'flawed'.

The size of DTR-linked contracts and the cash required to fund them has led to only three consortiums being shortlisted. PCS leaders have questioned the 'lack of competition', claiming that the MoDs refusal to entertain in-house bids placed taxpayers' cash at risk.

Paul Bemrose, the union's MoD negotiations officer, said the PCS did not oppose the rationalisation of MoD training, or the use of private contractors. But he warned: 'What we are seeing is the wholesale privatisation of crucial chunks of MoD work. The fear is that accountability will be lost and a private sector monopoly created.'

The union claims that the MoD's Joint Defence Change Working Group told staff last October that, by using private partners, new training contracts would be kept off balance sheet' and would not count against the MoDs capital expenditure limit, making the process more affordable. But that meant rejecting in-house specialists.

One MoD source said: 'Short-term financial gains from certain accounting procedures are being valued more than [staff] loyalty, commitment and hard work. …

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