Defence Training PFI



Motley Screwed?

A CONSORTIUM known as Metrix has emerged as favourite for at least one of the two defence training PFI contracts reckoned to be worth around £19bn. But who is behind the snappily-named outfit set to be handed access to much of Britain's military technology and be relied upon to prepare the armed forces for operations for at least 15 years?

Providing the computer capability is - uh, oh!

- EDS. The company's record of screwing up the Child Support Agency, the Inland Revenue's tax credits and more recently the Forces' own Personnel Administration System [JPA] seems only to have recommended itself to MoD bosses.

Other consortium members include: Qinetiq, 30 percent-owned by US investment fund Carlyle, which acquired the shares on the cheap five years ago through the part-privatisation of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency; and Augusta Westlands, bought by Italian defence giant Finmeccanica two years ago. Success for Metrix would represent an early success for Finmeccanica director Lord Bach, who as defence procurement minister in the last parliament approved the fortuitous Augusta acquisition.

And who could doubt the credentials of US defence conglomerate Raytheon? Among the blots on the company's copy book are: conviction for illegally obtaining classified documents (1990); overcharging on government contracts (1994); compensation to a competitor for spying (1999); $410m settlement with investors over false accounts (2004); and the admission of chief executive William Swanson this year that his book "Swanson's Unwritten Rules Of Management" was largely plagiarised.

Private education company Nord Anglia secures a berth despite financial troubles and a questionable record privatising schools in several local authorities. In September last year it was forced to layoff 100 staff and flog its headquarters as it lost money on a chain of nurseries. And no consortium would be complete without one of Britain 's finest outsourcers, in this case Serco - the firm that earlier this year admitted that its dismal performance on prisoner tagging only improved when it was threatened with swingeing penalties.

Metrix has the crucial cabinet-level backing of Welsh Secretary Peter Hain. The consortium will be based at the RAF's St Athan site in South Wales and use a £1OOm "super-hangar' that the MoD built just before the aircraft repairs it was designed for were moved out. Though extremely unpopular with MoD staff, the move would therefore spare some blushes, even it means handing over training of the country's armed forces to the most motley of crews.

... from Private Eye, 10 - 23 Nov

It's a good job we've learned a lot from the BOWMAN contract then...
It's a good job we've learned a lot from the BOWMAN contract then...

And BATES!!!


This article was from a The Eye before. Sorry about getting them the wrong way round...


All quiet on the PFI Front
WHILE the Ministry of Defence plans a huge PR offensive when it names the lucky winners of a £19bn PFI contract to privatise defence training (see last Eye), awkward questions about the secretive deal aren't dealt with quite so openly.

One glaring issue is the conflict of interest of the advisers who are instrumental in handing out the contracts, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Although the MoD told staff unions that PwC didn't have "any contracts with any of the bidders”, a quick check shows that two key members of the most powerful consortium, Metrix, have very close links with the firm. Last year arms company Raytheon paid PwC £316,000 for auditing and £568,000 for "other services”, ie; consultancy. Land Securities, meanwhile, paid the firm £0.8m for auditing and a further £ 1m for other advice.

Some of the bidders have less than convincing track records so how, unions wanted to know, had the MoD taken into account their performance on previous contracts? That, replied the MoD, was "Restricted – Commercial” and couldn't be divulged. What about the "gateway reviews” - progress reports on the privatisation performed by the Office of Government Commerce'? The MoD refused the Eye’s request as "OGC reviews, by their candid nature, need space from public scrutiny” (ignoring official guidance that disclosure should be decided case-by-case).

Meanwhile nobody knows whether the alternative of keeping defence training in public hands is more viable. The Eye asked for details of the "public sector comparator” against which the private bids should be judged, only to be told that the MoD was "currently evaluating all the information to decide what can and cannot be released.” What is known is that, in true PFI style, the calculation will be fiddled by including an "optimism bias” adjustment of 9 percent in favour of the PFI - almost certainly ensuring it goes ahead.

The option of a rival public sector bid for defence training was ruled out not because the likes of Qinetiq, Raytheon and BAe are better at it than MoD personnel, but because the plan, bringing together training for all three services, involves new buildings. As Defence Minister Don Touhig explained last year: "The significant capital investment required (in excess of £750m in the first six years) means this is not affordable.” Far better to sign a PFI deal and pay over 25 years - keeping the commitment off the government balance sheet - even if the cost, plus interest, has to be paid by future taxpayers.

If in the process some of the most sensitive defence training is handed over for decades to a bunch of questionable operators (who will also serve several other masters), so what? Just one more case of the PFI tail wagging the public service dog - except that this is a very big dog.

Brilliant. Absolutely Brilliant!


I think that putting training out to tender is a huge mistake that we will pay for in blood within the next generation.

The Armed Forces take a legal oath of duty that includes having to lay down our lives if necessary. Our interest is the principle and means of defending the country. All contractors are interested in is money.

Delivering training is a capability that we need to retain in house. If we out-source this so we can save a few pounds here and there, commerce will gain money and the Armed Forces will lose capability, as usual.

This is just another example of New Labour selling us down the river for short term gain and ignoring the long term risk. I mean what will they think of next, selling the nation's gold reserves while the price is at an all time low! Cnuts.
I just keep hoping that we can't afford it, and we'll be back at the drawing board. It's just got cake, arrse, and political interference written all over it. What about the poor community in Gosport that will get it's biggest employer ripped out. Arborfield I can understand, Bordon maybe, Deepcut definitely, but Gosport really needs the money invested in it. St Athan could just be another super garrison - with a convenient airfield.
Its amazing that a corporate polo shirt and a pair of civvy combat trousers, is now de rigeur for anyone in one of these so called "training" organisations. Just because you have the have the fleece and the issue Gerber it doesn't make you a subject matter expert.
FFS!!!!!! I have been getting inflicted with the by-products of PFI's for f**king years now and it is now badly getting on my tits!! If I have yet another anarchic, money grubbing, workshy, incompetent company (that is you, GD(UK) amongst others...VT) pass off shoddy training/equipment I will go ballistic. And what does the CoC say when we point out their shortcomings? Turn it onto corporate speak, massage the figures, move the goalposts and the Army gets another White Elephant.

Deep breath. Rant over. 'Scuse me.


The civil servants may help save the day - article from the observerGuardian Unlimited

I don't blame them, frankly the record of PFIs keeping their beneifts and pensions once trasferred to the Private sector is not good.

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