What systemic issues would you change in the MOD or in the single Services?

But that would mean curtailed careers for an awful lot of Maj, Lt Cols and Cols as they do the rounds of Shrivenham, Andover, Tidworth/Bulford/Larkhill and Aldershot in an array of fairly non-essential staff posts. You would also want to improve MoD CS T&Cs and pay. I've said it many times before and I'll say it again, remove the option to claim CSA when on a UK posting and the enduring staff cohort will self-select themselves into leaving.
Right. If you pay peanuts, what do you get? But we keep going around the hamster wheel of civilianisation, contractorisation, insourcing looking for a magic solution.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
This matters because the exceptionalism ethos means that those on the inside claim only they understand or have an interest in changing the career system, so only they should have control of it. Like any public service, this isn't true, but also like any public service, it's the first area the invisible hands of the institution ensure they have a death-grip on.
I've watched for years the increasing trend to import external civilians from industry across a swathe of domains HR, CIS, finance and logs because MoD has this bizarre attitude that excellence lies externally. This isn't diminishing, if anything its accelerating.

Yet the overwhelming majority arrive, throw around some PowerPoint-ware, retreat for 6-9m to actually understand the business then find it's a lot harder than they envisaged and then knife and fork their way through changes. Most don’t really add any value.

I'm not wholly convinced that we don't have the people who understand the business and know how to make it better, they're just not offered the opportunity nor empowered to do so.

I'm watching two 1* SCS brought in from external consultancies making a pigs ear of writing and submitting a pretty trivial business case right now.
 
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A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
My department, the Home Office, pays better than the MoD CS; that, perhaps, tells you something about how the MoD CS are valued.
I'm working with one of yours, he's....special. Will happily shift a narrative to suit an audience, slippery beyond compare and has zero EQ. And simply cannot listen to reasonable advice.
 
Yup. The added bonus of having CS doing the staff jobs better is that it would allow us to be much more selective about the officers we keep.
Wouldn’t you just transfer the problem to an organisation that is even less able to recruit and retain people of the quality needed?

@A2_Matelot’s last post highlights the problem with recruiting from outside; you are going to get the consultants and advisors who talk the talk.

Perhaps the question shouldn’t be about being more selective about the officers you want to keep. It should be about how you keep the officers who don’t keep you?
 

Majorpain

War Hero
Given that ACSC is pretty much the jewel in the crown, I’d suggest that it’s exactly what is needed.

Especially as CDS thinks it’s “too long, too joint, too drunk”...
Too generalised is the biggest problem IMO, enough to give a polished veneer of competency on most subjects but with none of the understanding to actually fix problems when things inevitably go wrong. The battlefield and the boardroom are two different environments, which is one the things Project Castle is finally looking at.

But then this is an organisation that is only just putting people through finance qualifications to work in finance jobs as i found out earlier this week. :shock:
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I've watched for years the increasing trend to import external civilians from industry across a swathe of domains HR, CIS, finance and logs because MoD has this bizarre attitude that excellence lies externally. This isn't diminishing, if anything its accelerating.

Yet the overwhelming majority arrive, throw around some PowerPoint-ware, retreat for 6-9m to actually understand the business then find it's a lot harder than they envisaged and then knife and fork their way through changes. Most don’t really add any value.

I'm not wholly convinced that we don't have the people who understand the business and know how to make it better, they're just not offered the opportunity nor empowered to do so.

I'm watching two 1* SCS brought in from external consultancies making a pigs ear of writing and submitting a pretty trivial business case right now.
You're answering somebody else's point, I think. I don't believe at all that 'external' as it is currently understood by the public sector is remotely best or efficient. From what I've seen, it largely entails paying about a £1000 p.d. premium to large consulting firms above what they could be paying those individuals directly, which itself is about £500 above what they could be paying them p.d. if salaried. That is batshit insane in many ways, particularly when (depending on what part of consulting you're talking about) all they are really doing is hiring a temporary SO3 with some measure of specialism, except they are inclined, at best, to actually listen to them rather than, as with actual SO3s, dismiss them as being too junior / naive / precocious.

I was simply saying that 'internal' has its own problems, as I described.

The answer is that 'internal' still needs a degree of external opinion or advice, but you need to look a bit harder and further than KPMG to get it. It exists out there, not in huge numbers, but in non-trivial quantities. The problem is that the same bias and blindness that means 'internal' can't see itself properly, means that they look for the wrong kind of 'external' too.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
The problem is that the same bias and blindness that means 'internal' can't see itself properly, means that they look for the wrong kind of 'external' too.
I agree with this in part, although I think an equal reason for the poor choice of 'externals' is that defence just isn't a well-informed purchaser of those services. The VSOs commissioning the work have likely zero experience of the commercial sector so they're likely to be wowed by the flashy sales pitches and reputation of the big-name consultancies.
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I agree with this in part, although I think an equal reason for the poor choice of 'externals' is that defence just isn't a well-informed purchaser of those services. The VSOs commissioning the work have likely zero experience of the commercial sector so they're likely to be wowed by the flashy sales pitches and reputation of the big-name consultancies.
Yep, that was essentially what I was trying to say. Tried to think of a snappy metaphor but failed.

I do know the question that pulls the curtain aside though, and that is: can you itemise the costs we pay above an individual consultant's fee for hiring through your company?
 
My department, the Home Office, pays better than the MoD CS; that, perhaps, tells you something about how the MoD CS are valued.
It also has enjoyed over many years a reputation amongst those of us who have worked extensively across Government, as contingent workers/ contractors/ consultants/ managed services, for an astonishingly toxic management culture.

And that was in place before Priti Patel arrived to improve things further :thumleft:
 
It also has enjoyed over many years a reputation amongst those of us who have worked extensively across Government, as contingent workers/ contractors/ consultants/ managed services, for an astonishingly toxic management culture.

And that was in place before Priti Patel arrived to improve things further :thumleft:
The new Perm Sec, Matthew Rycroft, is doing a good job so far and the Second Sec, Shona Dunn, is a safe pair of hands. Interestingly, they are both STEM graduates, which is unusual. As for Priti Patel, she's shaping up better than both Rudd or May, although I concede that that is potentially damning with faint praise.
 
Yep, that was essentially what I was trying to say. Tried to think of a snappy metaphor but failed.

I do know the question that pulls the curtain aside though, and that is: can you itemise the costs we pay above an individual consultant's fee for hiring through your company?
Is the MOD seriously going to Big 4s for bums-on-seats individual consultants. I doubt it; it’s not what the companies are about.

When you contract with a Big 4 (and many others) you are not hiring an individual. You are contracting for the company’s corporate knowledge and systems. The fee quote should clearly should the breakdown of hours, including the hours that partners, managers and administrative etc will commit to your contract.

I think you’d struggle to hire a consultant to fill an individual seat these days. You’d be in breach of The Off Payroll Regulations and IR35.
 
The new Perm Sec, Matthew Rycroft, is doing a good job so far and the Second Sec, Shona Dunn, is a safe pair of hands. Interestingly, they are both STEM graduates, which is unusual. As for Priti Patel, she's shaping up better than both Rudd or May, although I concede that that is potentially damning with faint praise.
As with any long standing institution, long-lasting, beneficial cultural change takes seriously good leadership, over prolonged duration.

I wish them well. Seriously.

At the very least one hopes they will be in situ longer than any CDS/CGS/VCGS: whose tenure in post gives them as much chance of changing the military culture as I have of rescheduling my wife's menstrual cycle.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
I agree with this in part, although I think an equal reason for the poor choice of 'externals' is that defence just isn't a well-informed purchaser of those services. The VSOs commissioning the work have likely zero experience of the commercial sector so they're likely to be wowed by the flashy sales pitches and reputation of the big-name consultancies.
This.....nailed it.

You can take a VSO to dinner, show then an orchestrated demonstration then all of a sudden you're off and some poor sod commences operation commercial cleanup
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
Is the MOD seriously going to Big 4s for bums-on-seats individual consultants. I doubt it; it’s not what the companies are about.

When you contract with a Big 4 (and many others) you are not hiring an individual. You are contracting for the company’s corporate knowledge and systems. The fee quote should clearly should the breakdown of hours, including the hours that partners, managers and administrative etc will commit to your contract.

I think you’d struggle to hire a consultant to fill an individual seat these days. You’d be in breach of The Off Payroll Regulations and IR35.
No, they're typically brought into for say a transformation activity or to introduce a new logistics process.

That said I've seen members of the big X persuaded to join the CS as SCS grades and then run internal efficiency entities. With pretty mixed results.
 
No, they're typically brought into for say a transformation activity or to introduce a new logistics process.

That said I've seen members of the big X persuaded to join the CS as SCS grades and then run internal efficiency entities. With pretty mixed results.
Exactly. @Sarastro’s analysis of consultant costs is wrong.

I’d suggest that the issue of getting the right results from consultants is all about framing the question. The issue isn’t commercial; at the end of the day, the public sector can piss money away on consultants without much account.

As for former Big 4 people being hired by the CS to deliver, hardly surprising that results are mixed. Consultants aren’t usually operators or managers. If they were, they wouldn’t be consulting.
 

A2_Matelot

LE
Book Reviewer
I’d suggest that the issue of getting the right results from consultants is all about framing the question. The issue isn’t commercial; at the end of the day, the public sector can piss money away on consultants without much account.
I think we've bigger issues. I've seen where the firms have been brought in to deliver an activity and told "this is the answer just deliver it". I've watched their recommendations and concerns ignored. All comes to your point they can be used without account and when you look back at the results years later "ah but X delivered that, their idea"
 

Alamo

LE
Thats not explaining anything. Please explain how Abbeywood is mismanaged?

And by the way they can be deployed, I have DE&S staff supporting some of our ships at sea today and in the Gulf on operstionsl ships.
He can’t, it’s a wankphrase that he’s using to play to the gallery.
 
I think we've bigger issues. I've seen where the firms have been brought in to deliver an activity and told "this is the answer just deliver it". I've watched their recommendations and concerns ignored. All comes to your point they can be used without account and when you look back at the results years later "ah but X delivered that, their idea"
I saw the same, both whilst serving and as a defence contractor. It’s largely why I walked away from the defence sector.

At the heart of the problem is the inability to partner. There are several reasons for this, some of which are outside the MODs control.

Bottom line, it’s very difficult to enter into a partnering relationship under European public procurement regulations. Until the UK has worked out its own rules, it’s still skewered by rules that are designed to regulate Italian corruption.

But in some ways, that’s just an excuse. The fact is that the public sector just doesn’t understand or trust industry let alone know how to harness synergies with it. The relationship is always about the contract, not the outcome.
 

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