The Ministry of Defence is so stuffed with civil servants that they outnumber the combined manpower of the Royal Navy and the RAF.
The statistic, produced by the Conservatives yesterday to attack the Government’s record on defence manpower, followed condemnation by General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, a former Chief of Defence Staff, over imbalances between uniform and non-uniformed personnel.
Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said that 16 per cent of the Civil Service resided in the MoD, and that the number of civilian officials (86,620), was about 12,000 more than the Royal Navy (34,830) and RAF (39,260) put together.
I work for the Royal Fleet auxiliary, and worked ashore for a couple of years in an office helping to manage the re-fitting of ships. My job was to collate the work for each ship's refit in my group, and edit each job specification to weed out cost overruns.
Now as most engineers know, it is not an exact science and you can't plan for every eventuality. Because of this we expected a cost overrun on several jobs.
For instance, if you open up a pump for survey you may find that the wear is far more than predicted, therefore extra cost incurred.
To this end we were allowed a package of extra money, usually between 5% and 15% depending on the age of the ship to be refitted.
Our outfit was comprised of 50% uniformed staff and 50% civil servants.
One part of Office was entirely staffed with civil servants devoted to writing specifications for alterations to the vessel, ie new equipment to replace the obsolete stuff. (Every thing wears out in time and can't be fixed)
What shocked me was the length of these specs. Sometimes 20 pages or more with endless waffle. The number of lines stating the bleeding obvious such as, "The contractor will carry out the following work", beggared belief.
Needless to say, often these specs arrived at my desk only just in time to be sent to the various tenderers, which procluded me from giving them the real once over.
5% or 15% overrun?
Bollocks! Some of these came in at 150%. What made it worse, is that for a lot of the specs, they called in outside contractors to write them.
Just to end it all, (Not me) when I went into the office there were 21 ships. Now we have 16 and the office has expanded their personnel by over 25%. Make sense to you? Me neither.
Here is the Time article
I'll write a post about the shipboard workplace sometime.