LONDON — The government is offering private sector consultancy firms £1.5 million ($US1.8 million) for six months’ work as it seeks help dealing with the process of leaving the European Union, now that Britain has formally started the Brexit process.
According to a story by the Financial Times on Sunday, the Department for Exiting the European Union — formed in summer 2016 and headed by Brexit Secretary David Davis — has tendered its first Brexit-related contract for the private sector.
Firms are understood to be expected to help pull together 729 different plans put together by government departments relating to Brexit since the vote last summer. They will also be expected to give advice on certain challenges related to Brexit, including agricultural policy.
Major firms including all of the so-called “Big 4” — KPMG, EY, Deloitte and PwC — as well as PA Consulting, are all thought to be bidding for the contract, the FT reports.
“We cannot comment on specific procurements, but as you would expect the department continues to develop its systems to deliver a smooth and orderly exit from the EU . . . We will continue to ensure the department is properly resourced to do that, including contracting specialist expertise where necessary,” the Department for Exiting the European Union said in a statement given to the Financial Times.
While it is not unusual for the government to give work to the private sector, news of the contract being offered comes just over a week after a report from the National Audit Office showed that Downing Street is struggling to recruit the number of civil servants it needs to deal with Brexit.
The NAO — the body responsible for auditing government departments and ensuring their accounts are in order — said in late March that No 10 has only filled around two-thirds of jobs it has advertised in the Department for Exiting the European Union and Department for International Trade.
“As of February 2017, the civil service has created over a thousand new roles in the new departments and elsewhere to prepare for exiting the EU and negotiating new trade agreements,” the NAO report titled “Capability in the civil service,” said.
“Two-thirds of the roles have been filled, mostly by transferring staff from elsewhere in government. There has not been a commensurate increase in the overall size of the civil service.”
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