back to article UK government buys off Serco lawsuit with £10m bung. Whew. Now Capita can start running fire and rescue

The Ministry of Defence has slipped £10m of British taxpayers' money into Serco's back pocket to settle a legal challenge over the award of a £525m Fire and Rescue services contract to rival outsourcer Capita. Capita won the MoD tender in June last year but the project – which includes running 53 fire stations in the UK and on …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ewww

    Syphco (as in syphilis) and Crapta in the same article, I want to both throw up and punch the wall.

    1. magickmark
      Thumb Up

      Obligatory Douglas Adams quote... Again!!

      Just posted this elsewhere but seems appropriate for here as well!!!

      The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes," with a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of robotics correspondent.

      Curiously enough, an edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Ewww

      I want to both throw up and punch the wall

      Combine them both - eat granola then projectile-vomit at the wall..

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Ewww

        Give Serco a contract to sue Capita and Atos for contract failings; payment based entirely on results.

        Give Capita a contract to sue Serco and Atos for contract failings; payment based entirely on results.

        Give Atos a contract to sue Serco and Capita for contract failings; payment based entirely on results.

        Give Waitrose a contract to supply a large quantity of popcorn, retire to a safe distance away while they self-destruct.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure Serco will find that £10 million from the government very handy...for paying back to the government as a large chunk of the fine they've just been given for shennanigans with monitoring offenders

  3. revenant Silver badge

    MoD payed Serco £10M to avoid problems?

    So basically, Serco mugged the MoD. They seem very entitled.

    Is there any compelling reason why they should be allowed to bid on future tenders?

    1. Gio Ciampa
      Facepalm

      Re: MoD payed Serco £10M to avoid problems?

      Ex (or current) Government ministers on the board?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MoD payed Serco £10M to avoid problems?

      The Law, you can't blackball suppliers like that on government contracts.

      1. Augie

        Re: MoD payed Serco £10M to avoid problems?

        change the law then...

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: MoD payed Serco £10M to avoid problems?

        "The Law, you can't blackball suppliers like that on government contracts."

        There are plenty of other reasons to blackball Serco though.

    3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Is there any compelling reason why they should be allowed to bid on future tenders?

      I'm sure they are eminently qualified to offer a post-Brexit ferry service.

  4. The Godfather
    Devil

    Sercrap

    Money tree just keeps on giving....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Clearly the MoD's recent chequered history with Capita over the botched Army recruitment project hasn't deterred the department from awarding the company additional service contracts."

    There often seems to be a big misunderstanding in how public sector procurement works. The reason for these challenges is due to perceived incorrect procedures being followed for procurement that 'unfairly' harms a legitimate bid.

    So they've paid out £10mill to Serco due to potential irregularities but then the article suggests they should be deterred from awarding the contract due to failings on a different project. Not awarding due to the other project would have seen a similar payout to Capita for unfair procurement.

    Doesn't mean it is all good and proper and it requires EU procurement rules for very large spends to ensure fairness across the region and even state aid rules for fairness across the free trade areas.

    Mix with that the limited number of companies that have decided to put themselves onto suitable frameworks to be eligible for procurement tensers or those with enough resources to complete all the paperwork for a bid and sufficient resources to carry it out and you are limited to a small number of the same companies bidding.

    Even for smaller public sector contracts you can close a contract due to poor performance but may, in some circumstances, have to award to that very sam supplier for the re-tender as they won the bid again. Without going to court to get them ineligible to bid or taking a big risk then you can be back to square one again. You can also find that you may be perfectly happy with a supplier and their piece of software that works great but expiry of the contract means a re-tender which results in having to use a different company along with massive disruption, retraining costs etc - possible even a worse solution, due to the limited ability for apportioning cost-of-change scoring as part of the tender.

    Fun, isn't it?

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Or one can simply readept such things into the control of the Crown, and not bother tendering out.

    2. keithpeter
      Windows

      Any reason we can't just nationalise these companies? Can't be any worse and would cut out all the crap about contracts?

  6. nematoad Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Commercial confidentiality.

    "...a protracted legal battle over the tender, the details of which are not public."

    There's an old saying. "He who pays the piper calls the tune."

    Not in this case it would seem. Instead we have the sight of two bunches of incompetents, Serco and the MOD huddling in a corner and stitching up a deal with our money and then saying that it is none of our business. This lot make the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation look like geniuses. It's a pity they won't be suffering the same fate

  7. macjules Silver badge
    Flame

    "mutually agreed an out-of-court settlement"

    We have now mutually agreed an out-of-court settlement £10m which provides better value for money for the taxpayer than an uncertain and costly court case,

    As a taxpayer I didn't agree to this, so kindly ask Serco to put my money back in the bank please.

    1. SVV Silver badge

      Re: "mutually agreed an out-of-court settlement"

      It is utterly outrageous to try and pass this off as "value for money for the taxpayer".

      Even more shameless than admitting that the stitched-up secret bidding process, which you hide from view with a spurious notion of "commercial confidentiality", was so badly tilted and incompetent that you're having to pay another 10 million to a company that you already pay billions to, just so they don't "make a fuss".

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: "mutually agreed an out-of-court settlement"

        Agree, this also sets a very dangerous precedent where the 3 ghouls (Serco, Capita and Steria) could collude to defraud taxpayers by each demanding settlements where they have ‘failed’ to win contracts.

        My experience with all 3 is that where there is a way to easy money then they will take it.

  8. jigr1969

    Crapita is the only company I know who managed to destroy three very profitable companies by meddling with them and not allowing them to continue as they had been for many a year.

    They would insist that anything required had to be provided by a Crapita company were possible. A CPU fan could be soured from that cheap IT supplier called PC World at a fraction of the price from a Crapita IT supplier. Any expenditure going out of the company had to be approved at a senior level and then, only when it has been proven that using a Crapita company wasn't feasible.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Crapita is the only company I know who managed to destroy three very profitable companies by meddling with them and not allowing them to continue as they had been for many a year.

      HP seems good at that as well.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Does anybody know of a single Crapita project that has come in at cost and has fulfilled all the contract specifications?

      Come on, just one!

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Capita’s own website: delivered on time and inside the budget estimate.

  9. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

    Magic firefighting 'technology'

    The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy will still employ firefighters, though numbers in the Air Force will reduce "over time… due to the introduction of new technology," the minister added.

    What!?! How exactly does this wonderous 'new technology' replacing the need for humans holding fire hoses to, you know, fight fires?

    Let me guess... some nebulous bullshit involving IOT and blockchain.

    As usual the minister is an idiot, and publicly proud to be so.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Magic firefighting 'technology'

      Simples! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm2BVTTir4c

      1. Muscleguy Silver badge

        Re: Magic firefighting 'technology'

        seems to still require lots of manpower. Someone to fly it, someone to connect the hoses, someone to monitor the fire engine pump used and the amount of water from the tanks if not connected to a hydrant etc.

        I also wonder how good the pumps are at pushing water up 900m.

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Magic firefighting 'technology'

          I also wonder how good the pumps are at pushing water up 900m.

          In all fairness the video said 900 and something feet, not metres. Even so that would be an impressive head of water.

          More to the point, at the displayed state of development that hose is more suited to watering the lawn, not extinguishing fires. Proper firefighting hoses are rather bigger, thus containing a much greater volume and hence mass of water.

          I may have got my maths wrong, but a fire hose is approximately 7.5 cm diameter. (I think!) Its cross - sectional area is thus 44 cm2. A 1 metre length of said hose will thus contain 44 x 100 = 4400 cm3 of water, = 4.4 litres, which equates to 4.4 kg of water.

          The stated lift capacity of the drone was 200 kg, meaning that it could lift no more than 45 metres of filled hose, and that's neglecting the weight of the hose itself.

          Not quite so impressive now...

          Of course if my calculations are adrift, which is entirely possible, I may have to eat my words.

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Re: Magic firefighting 'technology'

            Serious design flaw there, as there must be a hose from the drone to the ground, I would of thought it would be obvious to have the power supply on the ground as well and incorporate power leads in the hose.

            Yes I know water & electricity are not an ideal match but I'm sure it could be done safely. Not carrying the batteries and possibly having more current available would increase the usefulness significantly. You could also have the command and control over wire instead of radio which would make control far more secure.

      2. Snowy Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Magic firefighting 'technology'

        Looks very nice but I do wonder if it is going to fly that well in the turbulent air that a large fire is going to generate.

    2. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Magic firefighting 'technology'

      'How exactly does this wondrous 'new technology' replacing the need for humans holding fire hoses to, you know, fight fires?'

      I'm assuming it's the wondrous 'new technology' which lets them have less aircraft, which means less bases, which means less fire fighters. So it's basically down-sizing.

      Or maybe fire fighting equipment from this century, that way some of it might be serviceable...

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Magic firefighting 'technology'

      What!?! How exactly does this wonderous 'new technology' replacing the need for humans holding fire hoses to, you know, fight fires?

      Let me guess... some nebulous bullshit involving IOT and blockchain.

      That stuff is expensive. Much easier to redefine 'fire' in the bid, then have someone responsible for dialling 112 and reporting it to the non-MoD fire service*. For which a suitably large call-out fee can be charged. Thus Crapita-managed fires would only be those involving things other than heat, oxygen and fuel.

      *The usual scumbags are nothing if not forward thinking. So want 'Green Godesses' on hand during the next fireperson's strike? Contact your account manager for a quote. Or when the civilian fire service gets privatised there can be conf calls held between Crapita and Serco to assign roles, responsibilities and most importantly invoicing before anyone uses the pole.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Magic firefighting 'technology'

        "So want 'Green Godesses' on hand during the next fireperson's strike?"

        They were sold off about 15 years ago. Partially replaced, but in the main, the replacement for strike firefighter strike action is a legal requirement to make the existing fire engines available to the military to operate, ie the same kit they use themselves these days.

  10. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Serco Wins

    I wouldn't be surprised if Serco earn more from the £10m pay-off than they would have done under the original contract.

  11. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    "We now have a wonderful opportunity to surpass the expectations of our partners at the Ministry of Defence

    Turning up might just about achieve that...

  12. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    "tangible demonstration of the confidence government has in us to deliver a critical public service"

    More likely a tangible demonstration of the power of having old chums in high places..

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MY money

    for THEIR incompetence. What's not to like!

  14. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Remind me in a decade

    "We expect the contract to deliver significant financial savings over the course of its lifespan: money which can be reinvested in other areas of the Defence budget"

    I wonder if the NAO and OBR have pre-printed reports for "failing to meet specification, over budget, behind schedule, no foreseeable return on investment, no viable cost-savings, no agreed plan for delivery, another fucking disaster" where they just fill in the blanks.

    Perhaps not blanks; maybe checkboxes seeing as it is inevitably the same usual suspects.

  15. circusmole
    Unhappy

    So, as I see it...

    ...the Government has just dished out £10M of our (taxpayers) money without giving us (taxpayers) the reason why they have done it. Have I got this right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, as I see it...

      it's not in the public interest for the gov to respond to this question. Move on, nothing to see here, move on...

  16. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    When losers become winners

    Seems it's now a thing for the loser in public sector IT procurements to demand a bung to stop kicking-off. IIRC the FCO had to payoff some shysters recently.

    The "usual suspects" have moved beyond agreeing who'll win each mega-contract on a 'Buggins' turn' basis, to demanding spoils for the loser to buy yachts, Rolex, houses in Provence. etc. Of course the pen-pushers continue to receive their KBE and £M index-linked pension as reward for incompetence.

    PS wasn't GDS supposed to put an end to these omnishambles? Chuckle, chuckle.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: When losers become winners

      Primarily, it's because the outsourcers and shysters can afford better contract negotiators and lawyers than the Government.

      Actually, the government could easily afford better, but that would be seen as a waste of tax payers money, so they they "go with the lowest bidder".

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Ahhh privatisation

    Fail writ large with bells on it.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet the DWP will mercilessly hound claimants for small amounts of overpayment (sub £100) caused by DWP incompetence and send threatening letters warning of court, jail etc if the claimant doesn't pay up or make an arrangement to pay up in 14 days from the date of the letter, which often arrives 12+ days later....

    1. Neiljohnuk

      Got to keep the 'little' people in their place, taxed to the hilt paying for all this crap if their enslaved (working), living on the barest minimum benefits (unless from a 'protected' group with lots of free legal help) if not.

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