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Corporate Britain’s security handover: power, water, transport, then military, justice and food sectors

Gill Plimmer and Carola Hoyos report in the Financial Times that the Ministry of Defence is to appoint a private sector partner to manage its military estate – 230,000 acres of land covering conservation sites, office blocks, barracks, homes and military bases.

The revolving door

revolving door largerAndrew Manley, chief executive of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), was recruited to the MoD in 2009 after a 30-year career with oil giant Shell, becoming chief executive in 2011 as part of government plans to ‘streamline’ the MoD. If he is reinstated, following the current investigation into his financial and personal conduct, will he return to the private sector through the revolving door, as plans to hand over running of MoD bases to the private sector come to fruition?

Reward for failure?

Serco and G4S are bidding to win the £400m 10-year deal, though they have been referred to the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging the government on electronic monitoring contracts.

capita logoAnother contender, Capita, is also under a cloud. A leaked report by research company Gartner revealed that Capita’s MoD online recruitment computer system is two years behind schedule. The government has contracted to pay the company £1bn over 10 years to hire 9,000 soldiers a year for the army.

Fears in Washington and the British army about the security implications

The Observer has seen documents, marked “restricted – commercial” which spell out the fears of the US government and the British army about the potential loss of intellectual property if top-secret information about equipment is taken out of MoD control and handed to a private company. The Under-Secretary of State for Defence Philip Dunne refused to comment on this allegation.

Taxpayers’ loss?

vernon coakerThe DIO contract is one in a series of attempts to transform the way the British armed services operates.

The MoD has spent over £12m on ‘exploring strategic options’.

Last year it tried to privatise the procurement of military equipment but there was, eventually, only one bidder.

The process to date has been “a waste of money”, according to Labour’s shadow defence secretary, Vernon Coaker (left).

But the government expects to make the sale in the financial year 2014-15

philip dunne mpMatthew Smith of Jane’s reports that, in a January statement to parliament, Philip Dunne (right) said the government expects to sell the MoD’s Defence Support Group in the financial year 2014-15. DSG has a team of 2,800 top-grade engineers, responsible for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of military air and land equipment, mobile and in-barracks equipment support, fleet management. The latest news is that Babcock, KBR, Dyncorp International, Carillion and Germany’s armoured vehicle builder Rheinmetall are thought to be interested.

And the next steps: to place food and justice in the profit prioritising sector?

In 2013 Justice Secretary Chris Grayling instructed officials to explore plans for privatisation and ensure that the Courts and Tribunal Service provides value for money.

Media appears to be backing the government drive for genetic modification of food crops; a search on ‘2014 UK genetic modification’ finds many articles favourable to the technology. But MP Zac Goldsmith writes: “It is and has always been about control of the global food economy by a tiny handful of giant corporations”.

herald logo

And Ian Bell summarises in The Herald, (Scotland): “Corporate Britain is now at least as powerful as any government. It can and does face down ministers. It can and does run rings around the “watchdogs”. And we are all paying the price for that”.