Consultants move to dispel their gravy train reputation

The consulting industry has begun talks with government to try and counter
its gravy train image.

Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince Cable last week renewed a familiar attack on
the industry, that it is paid huge amounts of taxpayers’ money despite a string
of failures.

The new head of the Management Consultancies Association Alan Leaman said
there was ‘a heck of a lot of good work going on’.

‘We’ve opened discussion with the Office of Government Commerce and others,
partly about the industry making sure it communicates it’s adding value,’ said

The OGC is responsible for ensuring the public sector gets best value from

Leaman said that the meetings were the start of the association’s strategy of
convincing government, business and the public that consultants’ services adds

The MCA’s task has not been helped by PA Consulting’s sacking from its Home
Office contract after losing a data stick containing details of tens of
thousands of prisoners, and recent comments from Lib Dem shadow chancellor Vince
Cable saying that the ‘gravy train’ of consultancy must end.

Dismissing Cable’s comments as ‘sloppy, shallow thinking’, Leaman admitted
the public sector and consultancy must improve their relationship. ‘There are
issues. I wouldn’t say the relationship is in any way ideal, and needs to be

The MCA is setting up a group of members tasked with feeding back to the
government how it thinks the relationship can be improved.

‘We don’t want this to be a negative exercise and a list of complaints. We’ll
nail the issues,’ said Leaman.

The MCA is also set to contribute to the consultation opened by the
Treasury’s new professional services global competitiveness group, headed by
economic secretary to the Treasury Kitty Ussher and Kingston Smith senior
partner Sir Michael Snyder. The group is looking at medium and longer-term
issues affecting professional services.

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