14 July 2010

Rolling back the state

The Adam Smith Institute has published Taxpayer Value: Rolling back the state (download PDF), which itemizes how to reduce the number of people employed by Whitehall and the Quangos by almost 27 percent to deliver savings of £55 billion a year. The cull would include the abolition of the Department for International Development and the Department for Communities and Local Government

Other pie-in-the-sky recommendations include the privatization of job centres and the integration of the tax and benefit systems. But the prize for most unrealistic recommendation goes to the proposal that the military take over procurement from the MoD and purchase equipment off the shelf.

Think that one through, lads and lasses. The technical aspects of procurement are very largely in the hands of senior officers already. And whatever the cost, domestic sourcing for some military kit is essential: remember that Belgium refused to honour a contract to supply artillery ammunition to the British during the Falklands War in order to ingratiate its own arms salesmen with Argentina.

The biggest savings in procurement could be brought about by demanding common, tri-service specifications that would thereafter be set in stone. It is duplication and "gold-plating", much of it corruption-driven, that has made MoD procurement a stench in the nostrils of all except those who profit from it.  

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