back to article £3m for 8 weeks of consultancy work: McKinsey given contract to advise on tech project business cases

Management consultancy McKinsey appears to be well placed to influence UK government’s future technology strategy after winning a £3m, eight-week contract to build business cases ahead of the Spending Review ’21. An Expression of Interest was run on the Managing Consultancy Framework (MCF), the purpose of which was the Cabinet …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >Whoever builds the business cases is obviously best placed to win the follow-on works

    Lads the government might be daft but even they're not paying McKinsey rates for web dev.

    1. macjules

      No, they are paying Capita rates which are even higher.

      Wilmott was not involved in the procurement


  2. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    "Compelling business case for investment"

    "Among other things, the supplier was asked to "produce compelling business cases for investment" for the Government Digital Services (GDS) and Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO), ahead of the 2021 Spending Review."

    This requirement reminds me of Douglas Adams' books about the Dirk Gently detective agency. One company had a software product which would take the facts of a case and arrange them to support a given proposal. Clearly there has already been a decision made to invest in GDS and CDDO irrespective of whether their remits are sensible or appropriate. Now it may well be that the GDS and CDDO responsibilities are excellent, but in that case producing a "compelling business case for investment" should be rather easy.

    I should add that having been on the receiving end of some of McKinsey & Co's management consultancy on a couple of occasions, I am not exactly their greatest fan. That is only my personal experience, and was, of course, partially influenced by my company's management implementations of their advice.

  3. Chris G

    Normal Civil Service regulations


    The right club/school/university/lodge or envelope manufacturer.........

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Normal Civil Service regulations

      Except that the Cabinet Office was deliberately created outside of the normal Civil Service… to avoid scrutiny and play fast and loose with procurement.

  4. oiseau Silver badge

    You don't say !

    The Cabinet Office would not confirm whether any SMEs bid for the contract ...

    No need to confirm anything much.

    It's just business as usual.

    And on it goes ..


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Whenever I see Mckinsey mentioned, I always think of the Kinsey Reports. Because someone is getting f**ked.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: McKinsey

      I have seen some brilliant work done by some brilliant people in McKinsey. But that is the exception that proves the rule. In general the big agencies exist to provide a fig leaf justifying whatever policy management has already decided / been sufficiently lobbied on.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: McKinsey - former fig leaf provider

        Decades ago, in my misspent youth, I was with KPMG and you hit the nail on the head. These types of contracts are let to provide 'outside expert' justifications, fig leafs, for decisions that have already been made.

        The only time a problem arises is when the organization letting the contract doesn't make clear to the contractor what the right answer is. Been there. Our results went from accurate and thorough to preliminary and in need of further analysis in the blink of our senior partner's eye.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: McKinsey

        Did it involve a Powerpoint deck bigger than Jupiter and countless 4-box grids to teach useless people how to manage people?

        Money for old rope, very expensive rope.........

      3. James Anderson

        Re: McKinsey

        This is what happens when these brilliant guys take charge:

        Mulliman was McKinseys lead banking consultant before McKinseu recommended him for CEO at Credit Suisse.his fellow McKnsey aviation consultant borked .Swissair

  6. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    And no doubt...

    And no doubt that any of the other interested parties will raise an objection to what looks like a highly rigged ITT process due to the fact that it may put them on the blacklist for future works.

    This whole thing smells a bit fishy.

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Re: And no doubt...

      This whole thing smells a bit fishy.

      I agree. They're not even shy about the cronyism. Your comment bridges nicely when a particular crossword clue and answer are considered:

      Clue: Crony That's Laid Up, Eating Fish Kedgeree At First (8 letters)

      Answer: ... no cheating now!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quote 1: " iterative approach to feature development with a ruthless focus minimising feature and scope creep..."

    I see....."agile" .... but not "agile"....

    Quote 2: "... the most eye-opening challenge ... is technical debt...."

    I see...the legacy of using "agile" in the past!

    Let me mention of unimportant stuff like "methodology" or "testing".......I suppose because both those topics are so.o.o.o.o.o..... Twentieth Century!!!!

  8. Tim99 Silver badge


    At "top consultancy" rates, about 80 people working on it, but why do I wonder if it’s actually 5 leads and 15 juniors?

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: So…

      The leads will be doing half days and spending the rest of the time "Playing golf" as I heard one consultant boast at one NHS trust.

  9. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Cabinet orifice?

    Make that waterfall flowing more agile!

    1. wchan3

      Re: Cabinet orifice?

      Greatest of all time.

      You need to trademark this phrase good sir.


    2. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Re: Cabinet orifice?

      You really leveraged that adjective in there! Top job!

  10. Howard Sway Silver badge

    £3m quid to build "business cases"?

    Can't departments build their own business cases? I mean, don't they know what they do and what their systems already do? Or what they want to do which could be automated? Seems like a rather basic function of running a department to me, not something you'd need to fork out £8 million to a consultancy firm for (presuming of course that your "top talent" is as talented as they proclaim themselves to be)

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: £3m quid to build "business cases"?

      Yep and we say this time and time and time again at different companies I've been at. All the time ignored. It seems it the management handbook it says "Ignore what you're staff say, just hire a consultant."

      Annoys the fuck out of me. I've seen one set of "consultants" come in to design a bin round app using the new low code bollocks that was being pushed and forced on everyone. They ignored staff and just got to work. It was released and pointed out "What about bank holidays? The round changes when its a bank holiday". Oh, didn't you know that? Maybe, just maybe you should of asked the staff that use the fucking old app every fucking day, instead of thinking you know best.

      They were canned just after a year not before collecting their £1million payout. Their app was instantly scrapped and rewritten by inhouse staff.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: £3m quid to build "business cases"?

      My thought exactly. Consultants can only build a true business case on the information provided; if the department has the information, they should already be able to build the case. If not, they shouldn't be in the position they are and need to pass it over.

      This (government) way is to say how much you have to spend and get a consultancy to say how you can best spend it with them...


  11. Kane Silver badge

    All recruitment is undertaken in line with normal Civil Service regulations...

    ...a nod and a wink and a quick round on the green followed by cocktails?


  12. Sam Dutton or

    Is this about UK government digital projects in general or specifically for the site(s)?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It refused to reveal even how many suppliers subsequently responded, saying this was “commercially sensitive”.

    Which to me implies the number may have been less than 2.

  14. Nifty Silver badge

    Why didn't we just ask Estonia, 'Can we have your Government IT policy please?'

  15. Robert Grant Silver badge

    > departments had least confidence in GDS

    This seems not fair. They aren't perfect, but they seem to do alright given what I imagine is a vast number of constraints.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      GDS are widely seen by the rest of gov as bullshit merchants who have a long history of talking up their capabilities and the value of their unique brands of agile and lean, but very rarely delivering anything more complex than a web front end.

      Admittedly the web front ends have gotten fairly good in recent years, but since their inception they've come in and wrecked enough projects by throwing their CabO-backed weight around that they're very much at the bottom of the food chain. Verify alone has caused nothing but chaos across government for almost ten years now without delivering any appreciable value.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looking ahead, should we try to guess which version of Microsoft Excel they'll be proposing?

    Well, it worked for Test n Trace, if only in financial terms, less so in terms of workable database solution.

  17. steviebuk Silver badge

    One of issues with public sector IT?

    Pissing money away time and time again on consultants.

    As I've said before, been in one place where the consultant came in, asked us all what we thought the issues were and what could be changed, then took that info and palmed it off as his own work. As always the mangelment listened to the consultant but had been ignoring us for years saying the same old shit.

  18. PhilipN Silver badge

    You get what you pay for

    Actually, no, you do not.

  19. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Seems more a gig

    for thinking up more acronyms for digital stuff than for doign any real work...

    But then I'm an engineer, and I talk to the customer as in what they actually want instead of what 16 layers of non-technical people think they want (in a non-sexist and non determinate way)

    Eg you need to store the patients name so my design would be title, first name, other names, surname. and the non techs would then have a week long meeting over sexual roles in the definition of title and the spec would come back title options : Doctor, Professor, Mss, other, non.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re titles

      My organisation got rid of titles for customer records. Problem solved.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just hire good technical staff!

    FFS, it's a core activity. Spend the money on recruiting good technical staff and maintaining their skills.

    ...oh, you can't... Piss poor recruitment strategies over the past decade or two means management is now packed with skill-less bullshitters.

    Recruitment and promotion exercises continue to favour BS over tests of technical ability and there's no hope of it changing...

    Posted anon, because, well...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just hire good technical staff!

      You can have all the fancy recruitment strategies you like. Won't make a jot of difference to most of the civil service where techies will cap out at about £40kpa - very often half the market rate.

  21. Robert 22

    Our core expertise is giving money to selected consultants!!!!!

  22. batfink Silver badge

    Technical Debt? Surely not!

    So they've finally admitted that just concentrating on new/exciting instead of properly funding making what they already have work properly is not a good business model?

    The example of the prison visit booking system says it all. No commitment to ongoing maintenance and updates. Surprise, surprise - it all eventually falls in a heap.

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