Monday, 16 July 2012

Hiding behind "commercial confidentiality"

BFTF recently heard some very sensible comments about how private companies should behave when undertaking taxpayer funded contracts and thought the infoworth sharing. . .

For example, G4S have recently failed to deliver the number of Olympic security personnel they were contracted to. Regarding this issue, Margaret Hodge MP, from the Public Accounts Committee, made the following comments in a conversation with reporter John Manel on the Radio 4 "PM" programme of Friday 13th Jul:

MH:"What none of us know is how that contract was designed, whether there was a penalty clause in it. Clearly we will have to pursue that point and this brings us to a wider point. More and more, the government chooses to use private companies to deliver public services, and this was a service funded by the taxpayer. It is absolutely imperative that we have total transparency so that you can really make sure that you are not getting ripped off and you are getting value."

JM:“. . neither LOGOC not G4S would talk to me about any penalty clauses, saying that the contract is “commercially confidential” but a Home Office spokesman told me that there are financial penalties if “performance targets” aren’t met"

MH:"Let me just say this first thing : Where public money is being used, hiding behind commercial confidentialty is simply not good enough. If you are a private company that chooses to take a contract that is funded by the taxpayer, you have to be open about this. You cannot hide behind commercial confidentiality and we the taxpayers must know whether we are getting value or whether we are getting ripped off."

JM:"You say this is public money, but whenever I talk to the Home Office it insists this is a contract signed by LOCOG which is a private company."

MH:"LOCOG is a private company that receives public money. This is presicely my point. You cannot have privat ecompanies bidding and securing public contracts and then refusing to be accountable for the way they spend tax-payers money. It is simply not on and not acceptable."

Separately in the programme, Prime Minister David Cameron also commented on the issue, saying “I am absolutely sure that if companies don’t deliver on their contracts they should be pursued for that money”

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