Labours £2bn army of consultants

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by armchair_jihad, Sep 2, 2006.

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  1. The annual bill for Whitehall consultants advising government departments is running at more than £2.2bn, an investigation by the Guardian reveals today.

    Our findings paint a disturbing picture of millions of pounds wasted on controversial or abandoned schemes and huge differentials in pay between civil servants and consultants brought in to do similar jobs. Data drawn from internal Whitehall sources, ministers' answers to MPs, and freedom of information requests shows:

    Revenue and Customs is paying £750 a day to consultants to design IT schemes, alongside civil servants doing the same work for £120 a day.

    MPs who have tried to uncover the true scale of the consultants' fees say some Whitehall departments have refused to hand over figures. But the government will be forced to come clean on the real bill early next year when parliament's financial watchdog, the National Audit Office, publishes a definitive figure and a report on whether the highly paid advisers are real value for money.

    An analysis of spending in Whitehall shows that the biggest spender by far on consultants is the Department for International Development, whose consultancy bill is £697.5m. The Ministry of Defence is also spending millions to speed through privatisation programmes.

    Article in full,,1863450,00.html
  2. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

    I am currently working alongside some of these MoD consultants and am thoroughly impressed with them.

    1. They bring skills (and are teaching them to us) that we don't have.
    2. In certain areas, they are actually driving the process (that they are only paid to be consulted on) forward.
    3. They are paid on effective output, not hours, and most certainly produce work that meets the terms set (as opposed to work for work's sake).

    Certainly, in my area, what The Guardian refers to as 'privatisation' is better described as (much-needed) change and I think that could be applied across many of these programmes. In my experience, these consultants are brought in when they are needed on a fixed, strict contract (we're learning from them already!) and then pushed out of the door with a hearty "Goodbye" and a good reference at the end.

    However, whether or not my experience matches that of others is a different matter!
  3. Whilst your experience with out-sourced 'advisors' seems to be on the positive side, i suspect that because your exposure to them has been in a military context, your department has used them in their proper role (to come in, analyse, advise and educate, thus terminating the need for their continued presence). Unfortunately i do not suspect the same from 'other' departments who approach the problem whole other perspectives. I also have my suspicsions on who owns (or at least profits from) these 'consultancy firms), and how they are related to those who dish out the contracts... :roll:
  4. In my experince these worries you have are very well founded indeed
  5. untallguy

    untallguy Old-Salt Reviewer Book Reviewer

    A_S - I fully admit I am one of the lucky ones and, as my post said, I think these guys in particular offer value for money.

    At least part of this is due to the fact that heads of sheds where I work are ex-commerce sector (may give a clue as to my location) who insist on results which are timely, relevant and allow for decision-making within the environment in which I work. This applies if you are mil, civil servant or consultant and lets everybody know where they stand.

    I fear that I am one of the fortunate few.
  6. I am now, post military service, one of these consultants and (though currently working with a different department) i have previously worked in Defence, so have experience of working in and out of the defence enviroment.

    Whilst we may be considered expensive the government tends to get a minimum discount of 50% off commercial rates!!!

    And we generally try (you always get the odd bad apple) to create the maximum value for money, which oftern includes driving the project that we are supposed to just be advising on!

    To be honest, if we had our way all the time, all projects would be on time and in budget, but oftern you will find that people or processes (oftern government itself but sometimes suppliers) get in the way!

    If government paid decent commercial level wages and recruited staff on ability (ie in a commercial way) then consultants would not be needed!!

    Tied with this is also includes the way that the Unions hamper the ability of government departments to hire and fire people it does or does not need (ie like a commercial org) but requires personnel who have no ability to be placed in roles because they cant be made redundant!! (ps thats ability relevant to the role, not ability full stop! before anyone gets the hump with me!)

    Unions to protect the workers from unfair treatment good!
    Unions that force non-relevant workers on roles just because they are members is bad, and to the detriment of the government in whole!!