How the MoD is to achieve the 30% cut in civilian staff (18,000 jobs) by 2020 announced in the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) in November 2015 was initially unclear. Now plans are emerging that point to a considerable privatisation threat for many in the MoD, with two areas, so far, in line for outsourcing; the Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) and Defence Business Services (DBS).
At present about 2,000 MGS staff guard numerous MoD sites across the UK. The MGS was formed in the wake of a terrorist incident at Deal Barracks in Kent in 1989, where it was found, in a subsequent investigation, that there were significant security lapses in the service provided by the private security contractor.
Now, when an arguably greater terrorist threat exists, it seems the same mistakes could potentially be made again, with 'full commercialisation' of the MGS being one of the options presented in a report on its future. PCS believes privatising the MGS not only threatens the jobs of its staff but gambles with the security of the MoD personnel they guard. Guarding MoD establishments and guarding Tesco is not the same thing.
On 11 February, the MoD announced that it would be taking DBS, which delivers corporate HR, payroll, finance, vetting and information services across the MoD, to market to find a commercial partner with the end outcome being privatisation, under a new contracting model called 'corporate services integration and innovation provider'. It would appear that the option of DBS remaining within the public sector in the defence interest has been written off. Instead the MoD would rather throw good money after bad and not learn any lessons from its already well documented contracting failures.
Over the coming months we will be speaking to our members and documenting evidence to back our position that the MGS and DBS should remain in the MoD if real value and security in delivering defence outputs is to be achieved.
MoD group president Chris Dando said: “Our union will challenge every proposed job cut, site closure and outsourcing proposal and will demonstrate the enduring contribution to civilians in defence. Every member can help us in this fight, by talking to colleagues who are not yet members of our union and providing examples of where they could improve services without being outsourced.”