MoDWhat if the MoD were only paid 57% of the time - The MoD has responded to the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) report into the Department’s Support for High Intensity Operations.

The PAC’s press release included the following extracts:  ‘The MOD has had some successes in providing support for our armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan: notably, the delivery of life-saving medical treatment at the front line.  But there are important areas where the process is creaking. …………… But the serious downside is that problems with reliability have sometimes emerged only after the kit has actually been deployed.  The MOD's high degree of reliance on this procurement process must be questioned.

Both ground vehicles and helicopters have suffered from shortages of spare parts.  Helicopters back home have had to be cannibalised; and our forces in theatre have been compelled to rely on contracted and coalition helicopters’.  The process of getting equipment and supplies out to our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan is undeniably an extremely demanding one.  But the fact that the MOD continues to fail to meet its own supply chain targets is of concern’. …….. Since July 2007 only 57% of demands made in Afghanistan and 71% made in Iraq met the supply chain targets'.

Also last week, the MoD issued a press release about the publication of the report by Bernard Gray, who was commissioned to ‘assess what steps the department was making to reform its procurement process for the Britain’s Armed Forces and suggest further recommendations for how it can be improved’.

His findings identify a number of areas where the acquisition process could be improved.  The MoD accepts the report’s 2 main themes:
* a need to bring equipment plans into line with likely available resources
* a need to improve equipment programme planning, management & delivery

The Executive Summary includes the paragraph: ‘Nonetheless, the Ministry of Defence has a substantially overheated equipment programme, with too many types of equipment being ordered for too large a range of tasks at too high a specification.  This programme is unaffordable on any likely projection of future budgets’.

Mr Gray has agreed to work with the MoD to develop an overall Strategy for Acquisition Reform to be published in the New Year.
MoD press release regarding PAC ~ PAC press release ~ Ministry of Defence: Support to High Intensity Operations ~ NAO: Support to High Intensity Operations ~ MoD press release regarding Gray ~ Review of Acquisition (VLF 5.4Mb) ~ Written Ministerial Statement ~ Lord Drayson comments on the report and the emerging strategy for Acquisition Reform ~ Acquisition Operating Framework

NAOThe language used could hardly be more damming - The Rural Payments Agency and DEFRA have shown scant regard to protecting public money in their administration & management of the EU’s Single Payment Scheme in England, according to the National Audit Office:
* The IT system does not meet the scheme’s needs
* The cost of processing claims, already very high, has continued to increase
* The administration of the scheme is not value for money

Mr Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “This is the third time we have looked at the Single Payment Scheme and there are still significant issues to be resolved.  There has been a serious lack of attention to the protection of taxpayers’ interests over the administration of the scheme.  There has been a lack of senior management ownership of the scheme in the Agency and DEFRA, even though the risks were previously highlighted by the Committee of Public Accounts”.
Press release ~ A second progress update on the administration of the Single Payment Scheme by the Rural Payments Agency ~ Rural Payments Agency

ISASafe Voyage as the ISA launches - A new era in safeguarding in England, Wales & Northern Ireland has been welcomed by Sir Roger Singleton, Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).  From 12 October 2009 organisations including those in the health; social care and the education sector (and all other regulated activity providers) have new duties to refer information to the ISA if they have concerns that an employee or volunteer has caused harm or there is a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult.

The ISA already receives 400+ referrals a month and its job is to independently assess the individual and decide, based on all the information that is known, whether the individual poses an on-going risk of harm.  A series of criminal penalties have also been introduced and the barred lists have been streamlined from 3 down to 2 (Protection of Children Act (POCA), Protection of Vulnerable Adults (PoVA) and List 99).

This is a key phase in the delivery of the Government’s Vetting and Barring Scheme which, from July 2010, will initiate a 5-year phasing strategy for the registration, through the CRB & AccessNI, of individuals who wish to work or volunteer with children or vulnerable adults.  This includes all new staff in schools, etc; being ISA-Registered from November 2010.
Press release ~ VBS Scheme Guidance ~ Referral Guidance ~ CRB ~ AccessNI

EHRC:  Current Legislation based on rumour not data? - The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a report into discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) people.  'Beyond Tolerance: Making Sexual Orientation a Public Matter' celebrates the progress that has been made in tackling homophobia in the past 40 years and sets out measures organisations could take to tackle the discrimination that persists.

New research for the report found that some LGB people still don't feel they can be open about their sexual orientation without fear of prejudice or discrimination in key services & sectors, including the workplace & local health practices or hospitals and particularly in schools, universities, colleges & police stations.

A critical recommendation made in the report is to gather more data on sexual orientation.  As this is virtually non-existent in Britain public policy decisions are being made based on assumptions about the size, location, or specific needs of the LGB population rather than facts.
Press release ~ 'Beyond Tolerance: Making Sexual Orientation a Public Matter' ~ Supplementary research ~ Speech by Trevor Phillips at the launch of Beyond ToleranceEquality Measurement Framework ~ Gender pay reporting (Consultation closes on 28 October 2009).

BIS:  David wins this battle with a Goliath - A UK registered mining company failed to comply with OECD standards for operating overseas, when it did not consult an indigenous group on the construction of a bauxite mine in India, a UK Government examination has found.

The Government’s examination found that Vedanta acted inconsistently with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises by failing to put in place an adequate & timely consultation mechanism fully to engage the indigenous group Dongria Kondh about the construction of a bauxite mine in the Niyamgiri Hills, India.

A complaint against Vedanta was made by Survival International on 19 December 2008, triggering the start of the complaint procedure by the UK National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines.
Press release ~ Full text of the government’s statement ~ Full Text of Survival’s complaint ~ Vedanta Resources ~ Dongria Kondh‘Mine: story of a sacred mountain’ ~ Initial assessment by the UK national contact point for the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises: Survival International and Vedanta Resources plc ~ UK National Contact Point for OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises ~ OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development)There You Go!

WAG:  If one cannot follow the lesson there seems no point to school - This autumn, children in schools across Wales will experience a live theatre production as part of the Read a Million Words Together in Wales campaign, which forms an integral part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s basic skills strategy.  Its aim is to encourage young boys between the ages of 9 & 14 to read.  It is at this stage that many boys begin to fall behind in their reading and, once this happens, it is very hard for boys to catch up. 
Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch has been commissioned to develop & perform a production aimed at primary school children.  The texts on which the performances are based have been chosen particularly to appeal to boys and especially to motivate those who are reluctant readers.
Press release ~ Basic Skills Cymru ~ Listening to learners ~ Real Men Read ~ Read a Million Words Together in Wales (VLF 7Mb) ~ Improving Boys’ Literacy ~ Cwmni Theatr Arad Goch

MoDToys for our Boys (& Girls) - A range of items including portable DVD players, games consoles and solar-powered chargers for MP3 players & other personal equipment, are to be supplied to Afghanistan’s Forward Operating Bases as an initial project to get a new type of charity fund – the Operational Welfare Fund - under way – See ‘Charities / Voluntary Organisations / Third Sector’ section for more information.

Forthcoming Event: 'Working Smarter' with Project & Resource Management – Following the publication of the Operational Efficiency Programme review earlier this year, it was claimed that the UK public sector could reduce around 20% of its current annual IT spend by 2014. Add to this the recent reports showing that public sector net borrowing had reached more than £16billion in August 2009; we can expect to see spending cuts outlined across departments in the autumn pre-budget report.

Improved efficiency gains have long been believed as a means to reducing public spending as they can not only reduce costs but also provide more efficient services. Over the last 10 years the Government has introduced a number of programmes and processes to make the most of public spending and to deliver efficient and effective services.

A forthcoming independent white paper, commissioned by Wired-Gov - 'Working Smarter' with Project & Resource Management discusses these programmes and how project and resource management can play an integral part in achieving these goals.

In addition a limited number of seats are still available (public sector registrants only) at six breakfast seminars throughout the UK (November 2009 - January 2010) which will address how effective project and resource management can play a fundamental role in achieving maximum efficiency gains, as well as improving internal processes and resource experience.


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