I love it when a headline writes itself with such impact, it is only a real pity that the story behind it is such a damning indictment of the failure of British Management to properly assess what it can and can not achieve, and to meet the commitments it has given.

For Nick Buckles, the Chief Executive of G4S the largest private sector security firm in the UK, to be telling a parliamentary committee that he  regrets it ever took on the Olympic security contract, as he agreed it had become a “humiliating shambles”, is a damning indictment of the failure of his ability properly assess what his company can and can not achieve.  In a business which depends on the confidence of it’s customers in its ability to deliver, this is a disasterous admission that will sink the company if Mr Buckles remains at its helm.

For him to then go on to state that whilst the company may lose £50m from the £284m contract because it cannot supply enough security guards as the military and the police would be reimbursed for providing personnel to plug the shortfall, G4S planned to keep its £57m management fee demonstrates staggering arrogance.

Mr Buckles believes that because the firm expected “to deliver a significant amount of staff” it would retain the fee, but estimates of what he means by significant range from just over 50% to just under 75% of the total staff required.  This is a massive failure of management on a scale that brings into question the very ability of the company to manage anything.

G4S has been under fire since it emerged last week that 3,500 extra military personnel have had to be deployed to meet the firm’s shortfall in trained security guards for the Games. Police have also helped fill gaps left by G4S.

The company is currently competing against other private sector firms and the Prison Service for four of the six contracts which have been put out for tender, involving eight publicly-run jails and one in the private sector.  The Ministry of Justice had been expected to make an announcement before the summer recess but it has now delayed a decision until September.

3,500 extra military personnel being deployed on Olympic security

When asked why he was still in the post, Mr Buckles said: “It’s not about me; it’s about delivering the contract. I’m the right person to ensure that happens.” this despite his having revealed that he had been shocked when he was told about recruitment problems by his team on 3 July.  He then revealed that two weeks out from the Olympics, he who was in charge of security for the biggest event ever organised in the UK returned immediately from a holiday in the US.

Mr Buckles told the MPs his company had about 4,200 people “working on the ground” and expected that at least 7,000 people would be in place for the Games, and that “Clearly we regret signing it [the contract] but now we have got to get on and deliver it,”.  Amazingly he went on to say that the contract had initially been more about the company building its reputation than the financial aspect.

Mr Buckles said the company was no longer bidding for the security contracts for the next football World Cup and the next Olympics, both of which take place in Brazil. He said the decision had been taken last week.


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