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The MoD possible the most inefficient Dept in the world?

I thought I might offer my view of the MoD. Especially as there are any number of postings on this site regarding other organisations and how they might be run. Not sure if you will like this but here we go - I think you should take a good hard look at yourselves:
First up I am not in the military and never have been. My background is largely Civil Service and some private sector:
Govt. depts: MAFF, MoD x2, GCHQ, Customs & Excise, Inland Revenue. Ranging from Clerical Assistant to Drugs Investigator to Band B in MoD (management role - Analysis specialism), Builders Merchants buyer & wait for it banker (well worked as Tax Specialist in bank).

I thought I might offer my view of life in MoD:
Enjoyed my first job in MoD as Traffic Officer at CAD Kineton. Around 1986 thought I was contributing to society and enjoyed the job. Was focussed and well managed.
My second period with MoD was in direct contrast. Ten years long with seven a complete waste of time in my eyes.
First three years in arms length Agency pretty good strong delivery well managed with clear deliverables. Then took promotion to mainstream MoD.
Seven years of completely unfocussed and no value activity:
Cancelled projects, re-workings add infinitum, poor management, disillusioned staff and management, culture of presenteeism, repeat activities considered as normal.
The 'highlights' include:

The first Project

Arrival into MoD to work on Project 'A'. Project developed at cost of circa £1m by consultant.
arrived with instruction to recruit two staff (my 'team' being one band D Executive Officer, with apparently three vacancies). This individual had been working on her own for 6 months, the consultant and team having left the building. Along with the instruction to recruit was alter informing me that the name and presumably other things of my organisation had changed and my line manager was now 'x'.
Met 'x' (military) who advised that contrary to the letter has was not my manager but he would be once 'he had his staffing in place'. In addition he did not want staff recruited and actually would like the project I was working on closed.

Sought advice from the lead Senior Civil Servant and was advised that the project should continue and was a priority.
Met the project team that consisted of two military (both leaving in 3-6 months time) and two civilians (one retiring in 3 months and the other taking redundancy in one year) - anyone see a problem with this?).
The project team was concerned over lack of progress - I felt this might have something to do with a model developed for delivery by a full time equivalent of four and there only being one person in post.
Took recruitment action and 6 months later, having cleared a number of hurdles, my new staff member arrived. The next day the project was closed and the new recruits post was cut. Then HR refused to let the new recruit go back to his old post - I went to my line manager and managed to get him back to his old post. Apart from anything else this cost the individual concerned about £1k in pay (as his former allowances were not reinstated) on what is nothing special pay wise anyways. About 6 months later my new line manager (now military) suggested I recruit the same individual again or someone from his organisation as they were thought to be of high standard. Might just fall on stony ground?

Same story in slightly different forms over next 7 years. I naively kept thinking this cannot carry on.

The 'Pay As You Dine' meeting
Attended by 7 military and one civilian on one side and me as the analyst on the other. Military ranged up to Col from memory.
Extraordinary meeting where I swear we had an expert on sandwich supplies in the Sudan on hand.
4 hours in length. The crux of the meeting seemed to be that the 'PAYD' organisation wanted our assistance in running their model. The problem with their model however was that it could not be correct - the way it worked meant that as the Army numbers fell so the PAYD receipts increased. Taken to its absurd logical extreme it would forecast very high receipts from selling meals to the Army when the reduced in size. If thee was one soldier left the receipts would be at their highest.
This was apparent half an hour in.
At the end of this meeting fest the 'PAYD' organisation rather than forming a team involving the modellers/analysts went away to construct their model independently again.

And similar meetings ad infinitum.

The recruitment of TA Major into the wrong post
Recruitment of TA Major into unsuitable post. Posted into job he simply could not do (not a reflection on him given his background and skill sets). In post for three years on TA major's pay with allwances for living away from home. Most costly member of staff in a team of 40 & least productive.

Numerous examples of this. culture of moving on to get on in the Civil Service. And very 'odd' military postings - seem to work on a service/buggins turn principle.

Employer of last resort
If you the MoD expect me as a manager to employ disabled/disadvantaged people that is absolutely fine but you cannot assume these people will perform to the same standard as the majority. And you need to recognise the overhead in this.

The introduction of Tri Service
I thought when tri-service working was introduced I would not have to deal with three service but 'one'. In the area I worked in this resulted in all three service organisations remaining and a a new one introduced. The new 'tri-service' organisations seemed unable to agree with the others.

The qualifications game?
Every second military officer I met seemed to be studying for a masters degree, with generous study leave and funding. Is this level of qualification really needed by the MoD and can it be afforded?
Contrast this with the NHS where staff regularly fund their own upskilling or even professional training. And complete in their own time.

The Boarding school meeting
Long meeting discussing boarding school payments/allowances. Confess I did not follow this fully but at the end of it it became apparent we were not discussing a (radical) change as I had thought but were simply talking about applying the current processes correctly!

The hearts & minds game
I have been to several presentations where the presenter has pitched a 'Queen and Country' message. This is all very well but perhaps not when you are talking to an audience that is being contracted out or privatised. Particularly strange when the 'buyer' is an overseas company.

Director of Human Resources for a predominantly Civilian organisation is a Brigadier - I make no further comment

The Proposal
Long recognised problem is A.
I amongst others propose solution B.
My Director listens does not agree. Problem A remains.
Issue arises - issue/mistakes occur due to A and staff have to work harder in oblique ways to resolve
Problem A is revisited,. Several long grass meetings held.
5 years have now elapsed.
Structural change made - Change team of two,one military, one civilian. Tasked with this on top of day job.
all staff asked to reapply for jobs etc etc.
Part of solution offered at B taken up.
Problem A remains.
Four months later further structural change - new contractor brought in (partial privatisation) - Private Sector Change team now numbers about 15 - how did the MoD think it could be done with two?
I am interviewed by consultant who suggests solution B (doubtless heard it from someone in the organisation interviewed previously)
A decade has now pretty well past. I leave.

Why could we not have sorted this ourselves?

Well if you are still reading well done. bit like War & Peace this.

Finally my take:

Like working with and generally respect the military and Civil Service but:

Every member of the NHS I know works harder and is paid less than MoD and military staff.

The military are too rigid and hidebound to deal with changes made or to react to changing business environment. Or possibly are simply not interested. If I hear the phrase 'it's only government money' or 'good enough for government work' I think I will shoot myself.

Often really good leadership skills in military but the direction is flawed and/or pointless.

The military have real difficulty in seeing their own weakness and are not very self aware. Being a member of a Rotarian club and reading the Telegraph does not make you the bees knees.

The Senior Civil Service and it's aspirants take a very short term this and often move on to leave others to sort out their mess/achievement. I always thought the Civil Service was in the MoD to provide stability! Or at least that is what I was told on my first 'tour'.

The Civil Service is so concerned about the pennies that it misses the biggies and does not really know VFM. The opposite almost of the military.

It is maybe not the best idea to rely on those benefitting financially/career wise on contractorisation/privatisation decisions. In addition why is always people who are leaving/getting to retirement age who are most keen on 'reform'.

I have now left the MoD and frankly would not go back if you doubled my salary. I have achieved more for the public good in three days working at the Citiiens Advice Bureau than my last five years in MoD.

Of course I could just be a bitter old hack. Anyway enjoyed my time with The MoD at Kington,working with Navy divers at Customs and playing rugby with and against services. You are not keen on being beaten by Civvies are you but it can happen you know (if not that often).
By the way the Navy divers service was contracted out resulting in a cheap service from low quality contractor story of my life really.

My views are my own and I accept that I have been unlucky but judging from the world weary MoD staff I have met might be shared by few others.

Finally, the fact that I have been fitter (in the old fashioned sense) than most of the service men and women I have met suggests I might not have got the full picture. As this surely cannot be true..........................

Let the flaming commence (if I have not bored everyone to tears).


War Hero
The period you describe was subject of a specialist TV programme at the time. A documentary with laughs called "Yes Minister".

The 1985 episode on the subject of unreliability of torpedos was trenchant.
What many of us have experienced and still believe to be the case. You will doubtless suffer attacks by the fools-from-within who trot out the party line ad nauseum. A refreshing candour. My thanks.
"Enjoyed my first job in MoD as Traffic Officer at CAD Kineton. Around 1986 thought I was contributing to society and enjoyed the job"

Give your head a wobble. How can the Traffic Officer at KTN contribute to society? By not effing IMS?
I was in Kineton at about that time. No-one who worked in that department should ever, ever, ever be taken seriously!

Your analysis though was certainly "good enough for government work" .... now go and fulfill on your promise.
Just to be clear the latter service with MoD refers to latter period of time (to 2012) so as MoD exists now (or at least was for me).
Do not know what IMS is but can work out KTN. To be more specific I was an Admin Officer grade in the Railway yard - responsible for consigning deliveries out from Kineton. Biggest challenge working out what to do with the assorted pioneers that seemed to be sent to me every morning.
Interesting - might actually get more notice taken here and meaningful comment than I ever got in the MoD.
Anyways I will leave you to it now - I need to stop getting distracted by ARSE and find fresh employment (looks like that might be a bit of a challenge).
You know nothing of civil service incompetence until you have worked for the Home Office.

The process is everything. A process that insults everyone's intelligence and treats them like slow children and does not care a damn about the actual outcome. The managers, who are big enough to, can just ignore the process, and re-label the piss poor outcomes as a successes by moving the goal posts.

Half my job is to wipe the managers, and any other self important idiots arse before pulling there trousers up for them. stats analysis, portering, copying, reception, security, driving duties are not any part of my job, but since we're next door, and office based we are expected to take it on. Most of the managers couldn't rise to Pick 'n' Mix counter supervisor in Woolies, but thanks to diversity and equal opportunities, they can be promoted into posts of which they have not even a tiny chance of being effective in.

The one thing they excel in though is spineless supine grovelling to the grades above them, whilst being able to drop a disciplinary on anyone below them in an instant for making minor errors or questioning their flawed logic, outrageous hypocrisy or displaying any signs of dissent. This ability rises with the rank and at my workplace now, half of all staff have active disciplinary warnings for utter trivial mistakes and ommisions in most cases. The kind of things that used to be a quiet word are now formalised, causing more work and soaring levels of stress.

I have been asked to investigate some of these disciplinary cases, but I'm not keen. I can give you the outcome now. 'No case to answer. Line manager is a bastard/hypocrite/********/idiot. Home Office not fit to employ humans'
Sounds like nothing much has changed in MoD or the Civil Serpents since the 1960s and 1970s. They, the MoD civil Serpents were a bunch of cretins back then, and it looks like they still are. 'tis a wonder the MoD actually operates!! Hmm perhaps it was the same way back when there were 3 ministries - War Box for the Army, the Admiralty for the R Navy, and the Air Ministry for the RAF. Were they any more effective and efficient before it all amalgamated into the MoD?

Mr Reid, one of the many Home Secretaries under New Labour (of the B'Liar, Gordy McRuin, Mandelson et al infamy) stated the "Home Office was not fit for purpose....!" Perhaps it always was, and always will be, looking at the total cluster-foul ups the Border & Immigration Agency is.

Now that wiring frame room looks like a typical techies cluster-f**k....


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It was the War Office who thought the Centurion had a crew of five so sent us 20% more pissed-off Z reservists for Suez than we needed. Well if you're a mong it's easy to confuse Comet with Centurion, after all they both begin with 'C'.


I'm curious as to which part of that rather strange missive qualifies as news or current affairs?

More to the point, do you by any chance still live with the corpse of a close family member in the house?


If you can't tell if something has "passed" rather than "past" I suspect you are part of the problem rather than the solution.
My background is largely Civil Service

So one of the ones that has turned a world leading fighting force into a shadow of it's former self. Luckily, I realised we weren't in the naafi before clicking send
Life in the MOD was easy, I was told on my first day to stay away from thieving, fighting and hard work and I'll have a good pension to look forward to.
It came true as well. :)
Well IMO the OP had something to get off his chest which he has done and may well be able to move on to other employment with peace of mind. The post only highlights incompetence that we all know is rampant within any bureaucracy whether it be Public or Private Sector. But lets face it, it will never change especially in Tax Funded operations, simply because there is always MORE money to throw at the problem or the option of shutting the project down, neither option will result in heads rolling or arses getting kicked out the front door. Believe me it is no different in Canada either where the Liberal Government (in Ontario) have just wasted THREE BILLION dollars on four projects only one of which got off the ground - literally - it was an Air Ambulance service now under investigation for corruption and fraud by civil servants. Last week the Premier (top dog) resigned from Office (in the middle of these scandals), took the picture of the wife and kids off his desk and slipped a $321,000 severance pay cheque into his back sack. Are you kidding me.............!!!!!!

So going back to the original post, Tax Payers SHOULD be OUTRAGED, we SHOULD be demanding answers, and IMO the press needs to stop their political backstabbing at each other and get on the public's side for a change.

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