Thursday, 15 September 2011

DfT procurement priorities laid bare

This from Ithuriel...

This illuminating written answer given in the House yesterday...

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which external consultants were contracted to advise his Department on the (a) design, (b) tendering and (c) award of preferred bidder status for the Thameslink rolling stock contract; and what the cost to the public purse was of each such contract.

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation), Transport; Chipping Barnet, Conservative)
The cost of each contract against the categories requested up to June 2011 is as follows:

£ million
Vendor (a) Design (b) Tendering (1) (c) Award of preferred bidder status
Arup 2.53 2.86 0.14
Booz and Company 0.22 0.49 0.09
Freshfields 2.44 5.31 0.18
Interfleet 0.16 1.49 0.02
PWC 0.77 2.26 0.26
Total 6.12 12.4 0.69
Total 19.2
(1 )Tendering relates to evaluation. Note: These figures exclude VAT.

Eye Readers will doubtless note that even in the Design phase for a technical project, engineering consultants Interfleet were paid less than half the fees of lawyers Freshfields.

Is this because:

a) engineers are as cheap, as lawyers are expensive ?
b) making sure you can get your money back if the train doesn't work is more important than making sure it does work?
c) Interfleet missed a zero from their invoice?

Answers on a postcard please to Great Minster House.

UPDATE: This from Captain Deltic...

Can I point out that this table corrects the inaccurate information in a previous written answer from Theresa Villiers in July this year.

Villiers said then that the cost of Thameslink consultancy was £13.1 million of which £5.3 million had been spent since May 2010.

Since Lord Adonis had put the figure at £13 million a year earlier it was obvious some civil servant was going for the Jammie Dodger Embarrassment Trophy.

Naturally, in publishing the correction the Minister apologised for misleading the House (actually, I made that last bit up)

Might I take this opportunity to point out that this blindingly obvious error was exposed in my Informed Sources column in Modern... (No. Ed)