MOD Admit's to being Financially Incapable.

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#4
Love to see the NAO verdict on NHS budget......just by way of a change.....
 
#5
In other words, the MOD was forced into a spending review, the end results of which meant that a range of previously planned programmes and contracts had to be cancelled, and as a result the MOD is now revealing the cost of cancelling / writing off / deferring expenditure.

What did people think was going to happen as a result of SDSR - that all the money spent getting out of contracts would magically appear? Cancellation cost is always worked in as an option - the MOD knew what the costs would be, made sure those taking decisions (i.e. senior uniformed figures and ministers) knew the costs incurred for cancelling versus proceeding, and the seniors took the decision to go ahead and cancel. Not rocket science, and only news because its a slow news day.
 

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#6
Anyone remember this from 2007:

This exchange between Richard Bacon MP and the MOD's Trevor Woolley took place during a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee meeting into the sale of DERA / QinetiQ. Since the sale, some staff have made £millions from the sale of shares.

Bacon. “Mr Wooley are you a chartered accountant?”

Woolley “I am not”

Bacon “Are you a qualified financial person of any kind? Do you have any financial qualifications?”

Woolley “I do not have any financial qualifications?”

Bacon “What is your job?”

Wooley “I am the financial director of the Ministry of Defence”
With thanks to AT55 and Private Eye.
 
#7
And at the time, and done to death since was the point that it wasnt actually that relevant provided that he had good financial staff under him. Its akin to putting an RAF navigator with no intelligence background to become CDI. That would never happen now would it!
 

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#8
Except, of course, that he has held similar positions throughout his career and this is precisely the sort of area where civil servants are meant to hold deep expertise. Equally notable is that his successor did have relevant financial qualifications, something that the MoD went to great lengths to ensure.
 
#9
To be honest with you I couldnt give two stuffs whether the 2 or 3* leading an organisation has a deep background in it or not. HM Forces and the MOD CS have spent many years not posting deep experts in beyond the SO1 level, probably to avoid people getting too stuck in private little empires, and also to ensure fresh blood comes through. At that level its down to having a good team of staff, an ability to take on new material and the ability to BS convincingly in front of select committees that matters, not knowing the ins and outs of the subject area.

Personally I worry when my 2 or 3* knows more about my subject area than I do :)
 
#10
Trevor Woolley would have done well to ask in return how many MPs had any relevant qualifications in running a country...
 
#11
..... HM Forces and the MOD CS have spent many years not posting deep experts in beyond the SO1 level, probably to avoid people getting too stuck in private little empires, and also to ensure fresh blood comes through. At that level its down to having a good team of staff.....,
And thats where it all falls down. With a few notable exceptions most MoD CS I've ever met are pretty poor and have rings run round them by the contractors they supposedly manage. As an example of one among many may I quote the C1 grade running the commercial side of a contract - who had never actually bothered her arse to visit the facilities in question. Touted as an "open book" contract this clown was quite happy that 90% of requests for information were refused on the grounds of "commercial sensitivity".
 
#12
Trevor Woolley would have done well to ask in return how many MPs had any relevant qualifications in running a country...
Exactly the problem - the Civil Servants are supposed to be the experts that permit the elected (not necessarily expert) politicians to take informed decisions.
 
#13
To be honest with you I couldnt give two stuffs whether the 2 or 3* leading an organisation has a deep background in it or not. HM Forces and the MOD CS have spent many years not posting deep experts in beyond the SO1 level, probably to avoid people getting too stuck in private little empires, and also to ensure fresh blood comes through. At that level its down to having a good team of staff, an ability to take on new material and the ability to BS convincingly in front of select committees that matters, not knowing the ins and outs of the subject area.

Personally I worry when my 2 or 3* knows more about my subject area than I do :)
None of this avoids the fact that you've got to have experts in there at some level. The Civil Service is and always has been a boy's club.
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#14
SNIP
just over £57m was written off as "constructive losses" - mainly cancelled projects.
SNIP

This seems like poor planning to me, but then when SDSR came along...well, I suppose you can't make an omlette without breaking eggs.

Or in this case, you can't NOT make an omlette without breaking eggs.

SNIP
They include the cost of scrapping Nimrod and the withdrawal of the Harrier fleet of jets - both announced by Defence Secretary Liam Fox in the strategic defence and security review (SDSR).
SNIP

I grant you that defense items have certain sensitivities, but one might reasonably have supposed that the aircraft could be broken down and the parts sold off - this is how commercial asset strippers work - or at least sold on to Bongo Bongo Land for a meager sum that would show SOME profit.

SNIP
The losses come as the MoD is facing 17,000 job losses because of massive cuts to its budget following the SDSR .
SNIP

How many people are employed in the MoD?


SNIP
"We take the issue of write-offs seriously and while it is not possible to plan for every eventuality, a full investigation is carried out whenever write-off action is taken to ensure relevant lessons are identified and learned," she said
SNIP

Translation:Full investigations into losses = further losses.

Still, it might be instructive to learn what those lessons are.

I am sure other government departments (NHS, indeed) would see similar or greater ineptitude, but this all makes very depressing reading. On my annual trips to Blighty, I used to be shocked at the inefficiencies I encountered (which I am in the UK, I have to rely upon public transport, which you can imagine is pretty horrific). Now, I am just saddened.
 
#15
Except, of course, that he has held similar positions throughout his career and this is precisely the sort of area where civil servants are meant to hold deep expertise. Equally notable is that his successor did have relevant financial qualifications, something that the MoD went to great lengths to ensure.
You do know that Trevor Woolley is now the Finance Director of DE&S, right? Taken over from David Noble, who does have chartered accountant status?
 
#16
There is a rather odd list of things mentioned in the article.

“a £1.7m out-of-court settlement with a furniture company” Why? Without further information this is meaningless.

“a crash involving a warhead in California cost more than £1m.” Bad news, but unless there is evidence of negligence that is in the accidents happen category.

“A "gift" of fibreglass helmets and body armour to the Ugandan government cost £1.7m” Why is gift in quotes? Military aid is normal and I can see nothing inherently wrong with giving helmets and body armour to Uganda.

“They include the cost of scrapping Nimrod and the withdrawal of the Harrier fleet of jets” As already pointed out, cancelling a project results in the money already spent becoming a loss. However, many of the things no longer required as a result of withdrawing the Harrier fleet have been sold, so we are presumably talking a difference between the book value and what it was sold for.
 
#17
None of this avoids the fact that you've got to have experts in there at some level. The Civil Service is and always has been a boy's club.
Oh that's why they insist I take up golf! I should really have another look at my privileges and order myself a club tie.

Hang on, no... We actually keep on actively reducing the number of "experts" in any given field and outsourcing to Qinetiq where all our senior military leaders go on to cushy semi-retired non-jobs.

Sent from my X10i, probably from the loo, using Tapatalk.
 
#18
"None of this avoids the fact that you've got to have experts in there at some level. The Civil Service is and always has been a boy's club. "

Well thats not true in the slightest now - it also ignores the fact that over half the CS are admin grades - since when has photocopying files required membership of a boys club?

"I grant you that defense items have certain sensitivities, but one might reasonably have supposed that the aircraft could be broken down and the parts sold off - this is how commercial asset strippers work - or at least sold on to Bongo Bongo Land for a meager sum that would show SOME profit."
Harrier is still awaiting disposal in a VFM solution - Nimrod went because it couldnt easily be sold on to anyone else (am guessing this is due to technology issues) and without the kit its useless. There are plenty of better models on the market for simple surveillance now than a dekitted nimrod. Similarly, I doubt there are many spare parts that are interchangable with any other aircraft fleet we have.

"How many people are employed in the MoD?"
86,000 all in at present, to drop to 53,000 by 2020 - but this includes everything from mandarins to MPGS, teachers, RFA, manual labourers etc and not just office types.

"“a £1.7m out-of-court settlement with a furniture company” Why? Without further information this is meaningless"

Sounds like a cancelled contract for a base somewhere may have seen the providing company take action to recoup its losses. MOD paid out of court to avoid even higher legal fees and possible compensation award - seems a lot, but probably better value for money than being sued.
 
#19
Pure sensationalism for the most part. Giving equipment to another country's Army as a deliberate policy is not a "Loss" in any normal sense of the word. It is expenditure. To the layman "loss" implies waste. Most of the quoted examples do not really qualify.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
#20
Blokeonabike said:
Giving equipment to another country's Army as a deliberate policy is not a "Loss" in any normal sense of the word
Hee :) ....used to be the way HMG propped up buddy-buddy nations (qv Oman, Jordan,Chile) and acted as a door-opener for British companies to do after- sales support (cf Oman, Jordan,Chile) ......which quite often led ( surprise, surprise) to equipment upgrade programmes and new contracts for UKPLC.

This is how our closest competitors in the global arms trade operate - qv also 'USA and Foreign Military Sales '.

Whether or not we should be engaged in said trade is not for me to say either way. ( I see The Grauniad is currently wringing its mittened workshy hands that sales of GB-manufactured arms to Middle East are up 30% in the wake of the Arab Spring - fackin' A! )

Then came the Peace Dividend....and the Strategic Defence Review......and Asset Management .......and 'Repayment Charges'....and the weird idea that the Defence of The Realm was exactly like producing a Toyota Yaris... ...and Lo !, it came to pass that quite sensible 'gifting' arrangements were no longer permitted by the guardians of all sense and rightness - The Treasury ( may their collective scrotum shrivel in perpetuity).......

Don Cabra

PS BlokeOnA Bike - I never met Jack Bruce, but that Ginger Baker was as mad as a box of frogs !
 

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