The boss of Government procurement appeared in front of Mrs Hodge’s committee. Stephen Kelly is the Chief Operating Officer for the Cabinet Office and is responsible for the multi-billion pounds worth of contracts let by the public sector.
He looks like the young Adam Faith, has hair good enough for a gay bar and speaks a sort of concrete poetry that only sounds as though it means anything.
He was asked an interesting and direct question – “Will you be putting a requirement for open book accounting into your standard contract?”
He said: “Well, effectively, government is pushing transparency aggressively.”
It sounded like a Yes but could as easily have been a covert No.
Is he going to allow open access for the National Audit Office to any public service contract at any time?
“It’s appropriate to let that lesson land and see what we’ve learned from it.”
That’s definitely neither Yes nor No.
Asked about letting in third party auditors, he constructed an answer so brilliant it could be used to answer any question he might ever be asked:
“I think that the principle we’ve talked about is already driving some of these other areas that historically we’ve been interested in and candidly we need to reset some of these on a periodic basis when contracts are reviewed.”
The NAO man at the end of the committee table observed that Government procurement wasn’t doing very well maintaining a competitive environment among its suppliers. Thus, a little operator gets a contract and is immediately bought up by one of the big four contractors.
“Government stands by and watches the consolidation of the supplier base,” the NAO said.
Kelly responded: “I think you’re absolutely right. We’re not here to defend the record because we’ve got tons to do and we’re in the foothills … “ And away he went, hands flashing and dancing, into an account of how much cash had been saved from current budgets – the answer to an entirely different question.
Ultimately he was going to assert, ruefully, “We have to acknowledge we are where we are.”
That alone is grounds for dismissal.
Mr Kelly looks like the sort of business figure that public servants think is businesslike. Goodness knows they are, even the best of them, babes in a pram full of candy.
Here is a selection of pleasures that the committee winkled out.
Only recently have departments been allowed to use ‘past performace’ as a criterion for evaluating a contractor’s bid. No one ever gets sacked, and nor, to all intents and purposes, do contracting companies. Some IT companies are making 45 per cent earnings out of their contracts before interest and tax.
There is a Statutory instrument that says Home Office contracts HAVE to go to Serco or G4S (who pay no tax to speak of in Britain).
One of the witnesses revealed that Serco had been billing the Ministry of Justice for almost a decade for work they hadn’t been doing.
Another MoD boss had no idea of the cost of 800 staff kept on to cover-up an IT failure.
Has anyone been sacked?
The answer to that is: “There is an ongoing disciplinary process going on,”
What is to be done?
Kelly said: “The challenge for us, honestly? It’s to raise capability on our side of the table.”
“And so, I resign!” (he didn’t say.)
The article below has been copied from Zoe Harcombes site in its entirety.
It’s classic Harcombe: debunking the myriad nutritional myths put about by our governments and the dieting industry which have seen diabetes and obesity reach epidemic proportions here and in the States over the past thirty years.
In November 2012 Patsy Kensit was revealed as a new promoter of WeightWatchers®. In the January 8th issue of OK magazine we learned that Patsy used to eat chocolate and now eats WeightWatchers® Rich Toffee Bars.
If Patsy had previously eaten what I call chocolate – 85% or 90% cocoa content sumptuous dark chocolate – she would have been enjoying the health benefits of cocoa powder – rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. She was probably eating what I call confectionery. Here are the ingredients for Cadbury Dairy Milk: Milk; Sugar; Cocoa butter; Cocoa mass; Vegetable fat; Emulsifiers (E442, E476); Flavourings.
I’ve seen worse products than that. Talking of which…
This is what Patsy has switched to…
And so, instead of eating mostly cocoa or mostly milk, sugar and cocoa, Patsy is eating the following concoction…
Number one ingredient “Bulking agent” otherwise known as polydextrose – poly meaning many and dextrose meaning sugars. The technical description of polydextrose is an indigestible synthetic polymer of glucose. Nice!
Then we have more sugar – listed as sugar, more sugar, more sugar, sweetened condensed milk, invert sugar syrup and honey.
We have things that break down into sugars – listed as cereals, rice flour, wheat flour, malted barley flour.
While polydextrose is an indigestible synthetic polymer of glucose, we have whey powder, which is a mixture of globular proteins isolated from whey, the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. We also have humectant – a hygroscopic substance used to help a product retain water. That polyfiller, sorry polydextrose, probably needs a bit of flushing through.
We have soy(a) derivatives – Patsy’s had all the children she wants yes?! Google soy(a) and fertility and decide for yourself if you think consuming a form of oestrogen is a good idea (think “The Pill”). Soy(a) is promoted as helpful with the menopause for the oestrogen it provides. I have seen no evidence for this, but the PR department can’t have it both ways – it can’t be good for both the menopause and conception.
And finally mono and di glycerides of fatty acids.
My mouth is watering!
Come on Patsy – you’re a bright girl – be a role model for real food, not the ultimate makers of fake food in the name of diets.