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

Associate Business Editor

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.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
news
Environment
Fungi pose the biggest threat globally and in the UK, where they threaten the country’s wheat and potato harvests
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Consultants - IT - Trainee / Experienced

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40-50K first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Head of Marketing (Online & Offline, Media, Digital, Strategy)

£85000 - £100000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing - Slough, Berkshi...

Database Developer (SSIS, TSQL, Microsoft SQL) London Finance

£35000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global global asset management ...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone