About the Author

Ken Cole
SPS Consultancy

Ken Cole has worked in senior positions in both the public and private sectors and was one of the founding Directors of SPS in 2001. He recently completed a three year secondment as Director of the London Centre of Excellence. Ken has thrilled many public and private audiences with his incisive analysis, robust delivery and his belief in 'telling it as it is'. His blog is a regular commentary of the improvement and efficiency agenda.

Make sure you pay a frequent visit to find out Ken's latest thoughts on the workings of government, the latest policy initiatives and much more...

Recent Blog Posts...

Hijacking Procurement
Ken Cole
Mar 25, 2013
Mr Pickles uses the 'P word'.
Ken Cole
Mar 07, 2013
Haringey Leads London
Ken Cole
Feb 14, 2013
Time to rethink Supplier Evaluation
Ken Cole
Aug 30, 2012
Smoke and Mirrors in Whitehall!
Ken Cole
Jul 12, 2012
Collaboration at its best
Ken Cole
May 25, 2012
Latest Procurement Card Scare
Ken Cole
Mar 21, 2012
iESE - a model for a Big Society?
Ken Cole
Mar 06, 2012
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
Ken Cole
Feb 03, 2012

Is PFI - Profligate Financial Insanity ending at last?

Nov 18, 2011

Nearly 17 years ago, as a civil servant, I sat in a meeting with the Principal Finance Officer to be told that the £500k for my IT project had been suspended by the Treasury as they were of the view that "private investment and accompanying expertise" was the way to go! The inept Major administration was in its death throes and everyone, except the Treasury, agreed that this was by far the craziest idea they had come up with to date, but would promptly die after the election.

Not so - within three years, "New Labour" had swept into power and had seized the idea with the zealotry of an Al Qaeda suicide bomber. Project costs rose, rational business cases were binned and expensive lawyers and consultants grew rich as contracts running into thousands of pages were put into place. Any attempts to suggest this was anything other than enlightened financial benevolence and the future for public contracts was treated with the contempt usually reserved for Flat Earthers. Yes, and I was one of those that considered this, alongside self certifying mortgages, as an act of commercial insanity.

The good news is that it appears to be over. George Osborne has been quoted in the Financial Times as saying "we have consistently voiced concerns about the misuse of PFI in the past and we have already taken steps to reduce costs and improve transparency."  But is it? The government has no money and capital / infrastructure projects are classic job creators. Aslo just how good will the ERG renegotiation teams be in securing real cost reductions from the £200B of existing contracts? Don't hold your breath!!



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