The Public and Commercial Services union has described the Ministry of Justice’s contracts for electronic tagging as a “textbook case of an outsourcing disaster” in light of criticism by the government’s spending watchdog.
Issues identified in a National Audit Office report, ‘The new generation electronic monitoring programme’, published on Wednesday (12) include:
- A five-year delay, poor planning and contract management, and a catalogue of errors and disagreements between the MoJ and contractors
- The MoJ “has so far failed to achieve value for money”, the NAO says, pursuing “an overly ambitious strategy that was not grounded in evidence”
- The department is now using a model judged by the Cabinet Office to be the “least bad” option
- A stated aim to “encourage innovation by attracting smaller companies” not reflected by the reality of how the MoJ worked with such firms, and its recent reappointment of G4S after previously stripping the company of a contract after the overbilling scandal that emerged in 2013
- Not enough staff managing the project and the NAO notes it “remains to be seen whether the Ministry can maintain the required posts given its wider financial and resource constraints”
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This report makes grim reading and, after a catalogue of errors spanning years, it is clear the saga is far from over and significant risks remain.
“This has been a textbook case of an outsourcing disaster showing the very serious problems that can arise when profit is put before public service, and the MoJ should now halt plans for further privatisation of the justice system.”