MPs seek to lift the veil on terms of Government outsourcing deals
Scandals over Serco and G4S spark move for greater public disclosure of financial details
A powerful group of MPs will today push top civil servants to agree to sweeping reforms of how Government contracts are run by the private sector following headline-grabbing failures at outsourcing giants Serco and G4S.
Margaret Hodge, the Public Accounts Committee chairman, wants to see financial information on all Government contracts revealed under what is known as open-book accounting. The former Labour minister is also demanding that the National Audit Office has full access to contractual and financial details of these deals, which should also be subject to greater public disclosure under Freedom of Information laws.
Stephen Kelly and Bill Crothers, chief operating officer and chief procurement officer respectively at the Cabinet Office, will face the committee this afternoon. They will be joined by top Ministry of Defence civil servants who could be questioned over the semi-privatisation of the £14bn agency that buys tanks and guns. Plans to let the private sector run such a sensitive part of national security have been widely criticised and the process is on the brink of collapse after one of only two bidders pulled out last week.
Government contracts are under scrutiny after outsourcing giant Serco and security group G4S overcharged the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds on a contract to electronically tag criminals. It emerged in the summer that 3,000 offenders they had charged for were living abroad, in custody or dead. G4S admitted last week it had overcharged the taxpayer by £24m for tagging.
On the same day, the Public Accounts Committee secured agreements from Serco and G4S broadly to back the proposed reforms, concessions it is not thought to have been expecting. Executives at IT provider Atos and Capita, which recently won a contract to manage enquiry lines for the Department for Work and Pensions, also suggested they were relaxed about making Government contracts less obscured from public examination. Those four groups hold Government contracts worth £6.6bn last year. The Capita chief executive Paul Pindar said he had “no problem whatsoever” with open book contracts. Serco chairman Alastair Lyons claimed he would be “completely happy to co-operate with FOI being extended to our own contracts”.
However, these pledges were overshadowed by the G4S chief executive Ashley Almanza apologising for his company’s role in the tagging scandal and Mr Lyons conceding that Serco’s actions had been “ethically wrong”.
The scrutiny facing the outsourcing industry coincides with a period of great management change. Long-serving Mr Pindar announced last week he will leave Capita by the end of February after 22 years as managing director and chief executive. Mr Almanza is still getting to grips with G4S.
He replaced Nick Buckles, whose reputation was damaged following the London Olympics security fiasco, which cost it £70m. Serco is hunting for a new boss after the departure of Christopher Hyman.
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
- 4 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
The City of the Monkey God: Archaeologists claim to have found city lost for 1,000 years in remote Honduran jungle
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Bubonic plague-carrying fleas found on New York City rats
London property boom built on dirty money
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...
£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...