Who is out to get top MOD man, Andrew Manley?

We briefly reported here the suspension of Andrew Manley, the Head of the UK’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which manages all the Ministry of Defence’s  huge estate. Aside from the policy aspects, it is largely these days a procurement and contract management role, as most of the estates and facilities management is outsourced. It is a sensitive time for DIO, as they are well down the track of seeking a private sector partner to help them (in theory) better run their organisation.

Manley has featured here before, in a not wholly positive way. It was his signature on the Alix Partners contract two years ago, whereby MOD paid the consulting firm over £5,000 (plus a lunch allowance, unbelievably),  for helping them to manage big contracts and suppliers better.

It may or may not have been 'his' project, but signing off such a lousy contract made us question Manley's commercial judgement. I think what really annoyed me as a taxpayer was that Alix Partners would have accepted a lot less, as any procurement person knows. If you had eyeballed their partner and said 'I’m not paying not a penny over £3500 a day',  does anyone believe they would have said no? And the taxpayer would have saved millions of pounds.

In any case, the new accusations are around expenses claims – not even very big ones really when we look at the detail. Manley is also reported as having admitted some responsibility for a big IT failure;

“In a secret recording leaked to The Sunday Times, Andrew Manley is heard conceding to colleagues that the boss of a private sector company would “probably have been fired” for what has gone wrong at the MoD organisation he heads... Despite his admission it emerged this weekend that Manley was recommended for a bonus of about £60,000 for his performance last year”.

But the other aspect that the newspapers featured is the involvement,  in what sense, we don't yet know, of 32 year old Laura Clare. You can understand the excitement – bald, elderly (58), highly paid,  top civil servant and his attractive, blond 32 year old Chief of Staff, rapidly promoted into that senior role according to the press. The nature of their relationship is apparently under review – which could of course mean anything.

What is odd is that Miss Clare is “not under suspicion and has not been suspended but is likely to be spoken to by investigators as part of the expenses inquiry, sources said”. So why has her name obviously been given to the press as someone of interest? I have every sympathy for her based on what we know so far - and she appears to be very much a procurement person, having worked in MOD commercial teams before taking on the staff role. So, let's show some professional solidarity here, and hope very much she comes out of this well if she is an innocent party.  

But as well as the mystery of what Manley may or may not have done, there is another question. Who is out to get him, and why?  Who has dropped Ms Clare into the mix, creating potential  tabloid excitement? Who made a “secret recording” of their colleague (Manley) speaking at a management meeting and passed it on to the Times? Indeed, who highlighted whatever it is in his expenses that is being investigated?  Are they motivated by the public good, or something more devious?

That seems to me at least as interesting a question as what Manley has or has not done. And we await developments with interest.  


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  1. DrGordy:

    “Elderly at 58*’?

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