PA Consulting & UKTI Hammered In National Audit Office Report

UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) sits within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and promotes British exports, business and inward investment. Last week, the National Audit Office criticised UKTI alongside their supplier, PA Consulting, over a professional services contract.

As Amyas Morse, the NAO Chair, said: “It is clear that, on this contract, both UKTI and PA have fallen well below the standards expected in managing public money. UKTI should have been in control of the procurement and understood the pricing; PA should have been more transparent in its dealings with UKTI. There are serious lessons to be learned on both sides.”

The NAO came up with a long list of weaknesses around the letting and then immediate early management of the contract. A new contract management team then got involved, and they highlighted the problems that led to his report.  As the NAO said, the problems with the contract “only emerged due to the tenacity of the UKTI contract managers brought in after the contract had started”.

The problems seemed to be largely around confusion over whether this was an input- or output-based contract, and then the complexity of the charging mechanisms. Both parties are playing it down now, of course, but it is another less than glorious day for UK government procurement.

You can read more about the report and the events on our Public Spend Forum website now. Oh yes, and you might want to read the book I wrote with Fiona Czerniawska, “Buying Professional Services,” where we discuss at some length many of these issues around understanding exactly what you are buying and paying for in the consulting world.

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