Ticon dig into Alix Partners experience

We had an interesting email the other day from Ian Makgill of Ticon UK, who are a procurement advisory and research firm (with a specialism in the use of prepaid cards in local government - an interesting area actually, we may come back to that).

Here’s Makgill:

Your recent blog posts about Alix Partners got me thinking about whether they've done any other work in the public sector and I thought I'd do a bit of digging through our Foresight contract database which is a based on EU tenders. 

 We've looked through every ITT and Contract Award Notice issued across Europe in the past four years and found no mention of Alix Partners at all. Now that doesn't mean they've not done any Government work in Europe, but it does mean that if they have, they have never been shortlisted through an open process and they've never had a contract award notice published in their favour.

 Further investigation of their work in the US shows that they have had 28 contracts with the US government amounting to $976k, 16 with the Department of Justice, 5 with the Department of Labour and 7 with other agencies. Their work has largely been for the provision of expert witness services or legal services.

 Interestingly of those 28 contracts, thirteen were considered to be not available for competition and a further 10 were not competed. In fact only 3 were fully and openly competed. This is understandable given the nature of their services, but all of this leads firmly to one question:

 "why did the MOD appoint a team from a US firm with no (or limited) apparent experience of working in the European public sector or with Defense generally?"

Interesting, and thanks for the analysis Ian.

One more point I wanted to make about this contract. Our consulting firm, Procurement Excellence, provided gateway reviewers and similar to Government under the OGC “ERF” framework which is for named, senior individuals. We got on that by going through a long and tedious procurement / bidding process, and did it as a service really for OGC and the individuals – on a mark-up of 6% we weren’t getting rich! Outside OGC itself, MOD was the biggest user of the framework, but work has dropped right off since the election.

We were asked post-election to reduce rates – some of our consultants did. Then OGC came back and said there would be a maximum day rate of £990. Fair enough, most people thought -  times are tough, spending cuts etc. Then it became £990 including travel and subsistence! So now you’re potentially asking very experienced Gateway people, ex-private and public sector CFOs, COOs, CPOs etc, some of whom have led THE most sensitive reviews in Government (Olympics, national security) to go to Scotland perhaps for £990 including all expenses.

Then we hear that Alix Partners are on £5K a day. Plus their lunch and other expenses. The lack of consistency is very irritating to say the least…!

And we have still heard nothing back from Ursula Brennan, the MOD Permanent Secretary, to whom we wrote well over a month ago asking that the Alix contract be terminated. So, I think it’s time to work on our letter to Brussels now.

Voices (4)

  1. Barry Henniker:

    Hi Peter,

    I think it would be expedient to raise this matter with your MP and tell him that you are contemplating taking this matter as a complaint to the ECJ – it does not matter which side of the fench your MP is on, as either way it should galvanise hin or her in to doing something in the parlimentary space.

    This is a great bone – don’t let the dog drop it!!

  2. Ian Makgill:

    Peter,

    Thanks for this post. In the interests of fairness, I should point out that Alix Partners may actually have some experience of working in the US on ‘defense’ matters, but if their work had a security classification it would not show up in the spend data.

    However, that still doesn’t explain why the MOD has chosen to employ a team that have no obvious track record in Europe, especially since they’re being asked to provide contract negotiation expertise on tenders placed under EU law.

    I wonder if they’re using associates to support their work?

    Ian

  3. Watcher of the Skies:

    This thriller gets better and better….

    Smells like a stinking pile of p….

  4. Dan:

    Even if you don’t take into account the procurement regulations, its still a pretty dumb way of going about things. Their thought process must have been something like this:

    “Lets see. We’re rubbish at negotiating. They’re very good. Now, which procurement process would give us the best value for money? I know! Lets negotiate!”

    A four million pound contract later:

    “Oh.”

    I suspect the upper management of the MOD met ALix partners some time ago (probably on a golf course or a conference), was impressed with their sales talk and agreed to give them a contract. It was then up to the procurement people to sort the rest out…

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