MPs have demanded to know why Jon Thompson, the Ministry of Defence’s FD,
does not have control of strategic financial planning, a remit which every other
divisional finance chief would expect to have.
Thompson, who is also the government’s most senior accountant as the head of
the finance profession, admitted that he would expect any of his Whitehall FDs
to have that power.
“I would expect to have that responsibility [in any other central government
FD role],” Thompson said at the Public Accounts Committee.
However the role is split at the MOD and ministers have the ultimate say
about what is contracted.
“Why don’t you give Mr Thompson the power to do his job?”, firebrand MP
Richard Bacon asked permanent secretary Sir Bill Jeffrey.
The MOD has one of the largest budgets in government to bankroll the delivery
of extremely large projects, including aircraft carriers, frigates and warships,
which means the department suffers from overspends.
The PAC quizzed Thompson on whether he had the power to say “no” to ministers
if he felt the department could not afford something.
“It depends what the question is,” Thompson said.
The MOD FD added that he had beefed-up the “variable” quality of the
department’s IT systems in efforts to address the qualifications of its
The MOD has 845,000 lines of stock processed by its IT systems. Stock control
issues contributed to the qualifications, Thompson added.
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