Andrew Manley in MOD Commercial and Estates job share – isn’t £20 billion enough responsibility?

You do wonder sometimes, don't you?

I was genuinely shocked to learn that Andrew Manley, the MOD's Director General (DG), Commercial was also made the acting Chief  Executive of Defence Estates last month.

Manley has been relatively invisible (to the wider procurement world at least) since he took over as DG late last year - he may have been doing great things within MOD but he has not registered externally.  (I got a kicking from a reader last time I said this, but I do think that, at his level, we taxpayers might expect to see some evidence of what is going on in this area?)

The DG role is huge; the MOD's third party spend is some £20 Billion a year, and given the number of NAO reports, press and other comment around the state of MOD programmes and procurement, one would have thought that being responsible for that agenda was quite enough for any one person, however skilled they might be.  Even Alan Sugar might struggle a little....

But no, apparently he (that's Manley, not Lord Sugar) has the capacity to take on Defence Estates as well;  one of the largest estates in Europe, with a value of £15 Billion, and over 1,000 staff.  Now this is only a temporary appointment apparently until after the Strategic Defence Review (SDR); but we all know how temporary roles have a tendency to run on longer than expected, and even if it is temporary, it seems a major distraction from the critical commercial issues MOD faces.  And shouldn't the top Commercial man in MOD be fully engaged with the SDR itself?  Or perhaps he wants to distance himself given the press the process is currently getting.

I asked the proverbial MOD insider about the situation.  "It doesn't make any sense", was all they would say.   I make no criticism of Manley personally - I'd love to buy him a pint or two, he may be the best manager MOD has ever seen, and in this case, I don't suppose for a moment that he went looking for this new role.   I suspect he was made the proverbial offer he couldn't refuse.  But, with no background I'm aware of in Property and everything else going on, this strikes me as a very strange move .

What has happened to the supposed focus on procurement, value for money and commercial issues?  And is this perhaps another blow, (following Nigel Smith's departure), to the standing of procurement generally within the public sector?

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