“Urgent” need for outsourcing reforms after firms overcharge the taxpayer

The government must “urgently” review its ability to negotiate and manage outsourcing contracts, says the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Chairwomen Margaret Hodge said Whitehall needs to “urgently get its house in order” after firms such as Serco and G4S overcharged for security contracts.

Hodge called for more transparency with three basic measures:

  • extension of Freedom of Information to contracts with private providers
  • access rights for the National Audit Office
  • a requirement for contractors to open their books to officials

Firms were prepared to accept these measures, she said.

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“It therefore appears that the main barriers to greater transparency lie within government itself,” she added.

However, Paymaster General Francis Maude said a lot of progress had already been made.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “We are turning the supertanker around but a lot of this is about change of attitude and culture and mindset, and that does take time.”

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