Olympic security highlights seven weaknesses in UK industry policy

Royal Standard of the United Kingdom

Royal Standard of the United Kingdom (Photo credit: lydia_shiningbrightly)

The Telegraph newspaper picks up a topical story in the UK media. It’s well worth a read. Check it out!

Olympic security: The firm at centre of the shambles ‘has seen fee rise by £53m’ – Telegraph.

However for me, it highlights a number of powerful weaknesses in  UK industry policy:

Firstly, despite recent interventions of the Cabinet Office, the UK Public Sector‘s procurement policies are largely bureaucratic and ineffective, compared to Best Practice in the Private Sector.

Secondly, the cited cost escalations are down to programme management, another area where practice is highly prescribed by the Cabinet Office, where too much emphasis is placed on simplistic mechanical measures, like Prince 2, rather than emerging Best Practice in Programme and Project Management.

Thirdly it highlights the ineffectiveness of the Competition Commission (CC) which replaced the Monopolies and Mergers Commission:

The CC replaced the Monopolies and Mergers Commission in 1999, following the commencement of the Competition Act 1998. The Enterprise Act introduced a new regime for the assessment of mergers and markets in the UK. The CC’s role in such cases is now clearly focused on identifying and remedying competition issues, replacing a wider public interest test in the previous regime. It also continues to act as an appellate body in relation to regulatory—particularly price control—decisions taken by economic regulators.

Fourthly, the Competition Commission, plus sister authorities Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), together with its regulators lack both teeth, and thanks to the Government’s austerity drive, resoures. Look at the regulators’  names and consider the pathetic state of their industries:

Fifthly, UK industry policy was handed over by the last Labour Government to the European Commission – Directorate for Competition, so effectively UK competition policy, rules and regulation are governed by Brussels.

Sixthly, we have a lame Coalition Government that does not have the power to improve the UK’s pathetic ineffective industry policy nor to challenge the mandates coming from the EU’s overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels.

Seventhly, I am old enough to remember that when I studied industrial economics, we read some of the reports of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission – it had real powers in those times and there was real fear of its intervention – but, of course, that was 1972 and before Ted Heath took the UK into the EU!

Surely, the UK’s industry policy should be increasing competition and value-for-money, and paving the way for UK industry to grow, escaping the cancer of austerity?

What do you think?

2 responses

  1. Hi Alf,

    I think you were a little harsh on the Prince2 project methodology.

    In my experience, it’s a great project management method, particularly good at ensuring responsible and timely decision making by those in authority. However, you are right in identifying that if it is blindly applied, in a mechanistic way, it won’t be effective. It, like any other method, has to be combined with the real desire to make some change happen.

    Alas, I fear that change management is something that overly centralised administrations* will never really understand.

    (*including centralised government departments, international oligopolies and national monopolies)

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