Posts Tagged ‘G4S’

Why aren’t home office civil servants in the dock along with G4S?

17/07/2012, 07:00:04 AM

by Atul Hatwal

At midday today Nick Buckles, chief executive of G4S will begin some of the most uncomfortable minutes of his life.

His questioning by MPs on the home affairs select committee will lead the news bulletins. The management double talk, where simple failure becomes “complex human resource supply chain capacity challenges” or some similar corporate confection, will be boringly familiar.

Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, Bob Diamond, and now, Nick Buckles; a nation’s heads will shake in bewilderment across the country, as the news plays out.

But, for all the justified anger and rolled eyeballs at yet another example of egregious corporate malfeasance, something will be missing from proceedings.

Buckles’ pain and squirming will satiate some of the desire for public retribution yet this disaster, as with all government procurement catastrophes, was not the sole responsibility of the private sector.

This contract was allowed to careen horrendously off the rails by civil servants.

In a past life I spent years working projects like this when they used to be called public private partnerships. For all the anger that is directed at the private sector, in one sense, the old title of these projects was right.

They are partnerships.

For every bad contractor spectacularly failing to deliver, there will inevitably have been shoddy, amateurish management by the civil servants running the contract. Never one without the other.

The numbers of checks, committee approvals and monitoring reports that need to be completed in any public contract mean that it should be impossible for something like the G4S scandal to suddenly erupt across our TV screens.

Should be.

At each turn, G4S will undoubtedly have failed to meet the required standard but a brigade of home office civil servants will have been sufficiently incompetent not to notice or do anything about it if they did.


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