Lord Guthrie: "MoD has culture of delay inexperience & fear"

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by soleil, Aug 26, 2009.

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  1. bet those 87 000 are each paid more than their equivalent rank in the forces, too...bah
  2. MoD Civil servants are amongst the better paid, since each department sets it's own grade pay. MoD CS are generally on about 2/3 of the pay of service equivalents. Should probably add, I have several friends who joined the CS after retiring, Sqn Ldr I was working alongside about 5 years ago, went in at an equivalent grade to a Whitehall department on 50% of his retirement salary. I got offered one job in a department (speculative, they tried to headhunt me) at Capt/ Cdre equivalent on £60k, that would have been a pay cut, it's only a little more than a senior Lt Cdr.

    CS pay is crap, which is a big contributor to the problem.
  3. Wow - well, I stand corrected! So what you're saying is that we have a quantity over quality problem? There must still be SOME serious high fliers getting in, because I know three of my hyper intelligent First degreee and masters mates from Oxford, Cardiff Manchester and the like took the civil service fast stream exams and failed? I guess it's unlikely though that any who pass those will be going on to MoD though
  4. Re: Lord Guthrie: "MoD has culture of delay inexperience & f

    CS starting money is too low to attract the better Graduates. The boy was looking at the CS but the idea of ≤£25kish starting money didn't impress, the idea of waiting up to 10 years in grade to get promotion impressed even less. So off he went and chapped on LM's door and now he's an IT bod with them and currently earning over £40k.
  5. My perception is that the CS has some very good, and some very poor, with very slim pickings in the middle ground. That applies across most departments, although some have a better spread than others.

    Pay in the Senior Civil Service is ok, but it's still not really commensurate with levels of responsibility and influence.

    There are two types of Fast Stream, Civil Service and Diplomatic Corps. Both are difficult to get into and there is a fair representation across most departments, MoD has a reasonably high number of Fast Streamers. Again my perception is that MoD doesn't manage them very well and tends to lose them either to the private sector or other departments with better TACOS once they get to the Grade 7 level.

    Competition for the FS is extremely strong, retention isn't great.
  6. Re: Lord Guthrie: "MoD has culture of delay inexperience & f

    It does depend on the CS department. The FCO does not experience recruiting problems, nor do we (with remuneration broadly in line with CS pay in London, albeit based on the outer London rates) but then again entry is very difficult and we usually get 350-700 applicants for every job in the lower grades (where a good academic First Class Degree from a good university, is an unwritten prerequisite for reaching the shortlist!). We have a starting salary of £13.5K for new entries rising to the pay maxima of £23k after 3 years. Then again, many people here have private means. :roll: :wink:
  7. Not likely. One of the problems is that Civil Servants of the "equivalent" rank are paid significantly less.

    The other question about whether they are of comparative rank is also one that could run and run.
  8. Re: Lord Guthrie: "MoD has culture of delay inexperience & f

    I remember Guthrie when he was in charge with Blair.He was so fawning it was sickening to see each time he spoke.
    Isn't it quaint how they all come out,Guthrie,Jackson etc once they have retired and received the honours that always follow?never whilst in charge.
    Dannat is the exeption and that's why the Labour Party turned on him, plus don't get me started on "Jock" Stirrup! typical Bertie Wooster flyboy.
    Pilots do a fantastic job in ground troop support but he don't seem a war leader to me.Talks up the excuses though.
  9. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    "bet those 87 000 are each paid more than their equivalent rank in the forces, too...bah"

    I left a period of FTRS as an SO3 6 years ago to join the MOD in an equivalent grade (D). I took an instant £13K pay cut, and today, due to the delights of our pay system, I am still earning less now than I did in 2003.

    The Military do get a very good package compared to the civil service - mainly because the pay package reflects 24/7 work, and the X factor. There are also a lot more allowances open to military personnel - for instance in London, Mil personnel get their Oyster cards paid for (something worth nearly £1200 per year for most people) and good subsistence.

    The average CS salary is under £20K per year - and even more senior ones don't get much more. A C1 (SO1 broad band equivalent) starts on £37,500 with London weighting - IIRC an SO1 is on over £60k on appointment, without any allowances added.

    One of the problems of getting good senior management in is that while at junior levels there is rough parity in pay betweeen private sector and CS, get further up the food chain and the gap opens. I have a good friend who would love to join the CS, but would need to take a pay cut in excess of £70k to do so - she's got amazing skills and would bring a lot to the organisation, but we can't afford to recruit her. Consequently you're left with the keen, the disenchanted and the unemployable!

    The wider figure of 87,500 CS is very misleading - it paints the image of 87,500 desk workers, but in reality it includes the RFA, the MOD Police, the MPGS, dockyard workers, storemen, nursery assistants, teachers, welfare workers, boat hands, stewards, cooks, rocket scientists, cleaners, receptionists, admin staff and so on. Once you start playing round with the figures, you'll realise that only about 30,000 of the MOD CS actually do traditional office work, and many of them are admin staff. Additionally, since 1997, over 44,000 MOD CS have been laid off.

    Don't get started on equivalent rank though - please!
  10. It's late, I'm tired. Rant follows rather than reasoned, analysed, planned discourse. The following has been assayed and valued at precisely £0.02.

    If you believe in "equivalent rank" (and personally I don't) then I make a little under half what my uniformed "equivalent" would. I've got rather more technical and academic qualification and more knowledge of the guts of guided weapons, he's got lots of years of experience (including getting an impromptu swimming lesson in 1982) of how they get put to use. Can't claim he didn't earn or doesn't deserve his money...

    I'd like to see the gap reduced for a variety of reasons, not all of them personally selfish. We're continuing to thin out the middle ranks of the technical CS horribly at the moment: we're keeping the old hands who have small mortgages and are near retiring on decent terms so want to stay, we can still draw in keen young graduates.

    But we're trying to keep experienced thirtysomethings, often with postgrad qualifications, while paying them £30k or so as a supposedly "competitive salary" in a part of the southeast where a one-bedroom flat will set you back £130,000 and we're wondering why they work for us for a few years and then go take that experience and training off to somewhere they can earn more money as soon as they want to start a family.

    As P-T says, you get left with a mix of those who love the work and those who can't get anything better... we need to fix that. Fewer but better and better-paid seems like a way to go; more reward for the good ones, more means to shift the bad ones.

    However, I would also want to see that (somewhat reduced) pay gap between military and civilian remain: at the bluntest, I volunteered to deploy overseas - to a safe inside-the-wire job in Basrah Air Station - and don't have to go again as a civilian unless I agree to, while my Service opposite numbers can get *sent* to the sound of the guns and don't get paid overtime when they do. And postgrad qualifications are hardly a civilian exclusive - ask any ACSC survivor (which, as a SO1ish-sort-of-if-you-believe-it, is my 'equivalent'). I bring technical understanding, my uniformed oppos bring the knowledge of the art of the possible, where I am it works.

    Another minor point on "numbers of CS" - where I work, we lost a small but noticeable number of uniformed posts and replaced them with civilians, for instance in the 'iHub' (what used to be called the Registry) where we now have significantly cheaper civilians sorting the mail and logging documents in and out instead of uniformed Service staff, for rather less money spent. Is this a crucial loss of military efficiency? (Though one flipside is that it's the loss of a comfortable shore job for a keen AB who's blown his or her harmony guidelines and has earned a draft close to home, or is limping around on a broken leg, or...)

    And if I ever find whoever thought of the "equivalent rank" idiocy, then I would like a dark alley, a crowbar, five minutes undisturbed and then a shower and a change of clothes to get rid of the bloodstains. It works only to the level of "the CS who's seariding this week will be fed in the wardroom"[1]. Anything more detailed than that asks for... the sort of bad feeling and stupidity we keep generating every time some inexperienced throbber bleats "of course I'm equivalent to a Commander..." FFS, my notional "equivalent rank" means I supposedly could have argued seniority with the captains of the ships I've been out in - how is that meant to be a good idea?

    And just how does a civilian with no military experience grip the notion of "you may be notionally an officer of significant rank, but that killick knows of what (s)he speaks, and you ignore the LH's advice at your very great peril even if - or especially when - they are pointedly calling you 'sir'..."?

    We hates it, my Precious, we hates it very much.

    Steam vented, safety valve back down, normal service resumed, and I officially deny any connection to the above comments should any grown-ups ask in unfriendly tones.

    [1] Apart from the time he gets invited to the SR's mess for 'a few beers' which turns into a game of "let's ruin the civilian". I woke up with a near-lethal hangover, a few bruises where I'd been carried back to my bunk after they drank me under the table, and my virtue if not my reputation intact... apparently it's a tradition. Still, the parts I remembered before it all went black were entertaining, and they wouldn't let me buy a drop for them or myself while they were stitching me up. Shouldn't have joined if you can't take a joke...
  11. Purple_twiglet

    Purple_twiglet War Hero Moderator

    Totally concur with your points - the only thing I'd add is that the equivalent rank system owes much to the days when promotion was slower. We've always had a rank structure in the CS since it was formed, and the military asked us to work out who was roughly where in our joint pecking orders.

    It used to be that a D grade civil servant would be promoted at roughly the same intervals as a Lt RN, and then the same again as Lt Cdr / C2 - in other words, you could look at a D grade and know that they were broadly equivalent in terms of professional experience to an RN Lieutenant. Sadly thats all changed now, and its much easier to get promoted earlier - so you do now get 25 year old "commanders".

    If you encounter people sad enough to believe they are a "SO1" and not an "SO1 Equiv" then please hit them for me ;-)
  12. Before you two get carried away by your mutual appreciation society, pray give it a bit more thought. Have you chaps heard of or understand “signing levels� Whether it’s the priority of a Signal, MATDEM, whatever or the value of a Req or Loss, someone of the authorised Rank/Grade must sign for it.
  13. Re: Lord Guthrie: "MoD has culture of delay inexperience & f

    P.Twiglet, WTF is an Oyster Card ?.

    Confused of OOP North.
  14. Re: Lord Guthrie: "MoD has culture of delay inexperience & f


    It's an electronic season ticket for public transport in London, like a plastic Travelcard.

    You load it with an appropriate amount of cash - online, if you wish - then, when you get on a bus or the tube, you just press the card on the sensor and whizz straight through.
  15. Re: Lord Guthrie: "MoD has culture of delay inexperience & f

    Thank you Sol.
  16. Or, someone of a notionally lower Rank/Grade with a specialisation in money management and contracts has specific delegated authority from the Boss, enabling them to offload higher-ranking personnel from financial issues that (a) they don't fully grip, (b) they hate dealing with and (c) are a waste of their time and skills. As long as your Business Manager is good, it works: thankfully, ours is excellent.

    The nearest we get to "signing levels" for technical issues - my field - where I work is that the relevant uniformed SO1 pillar heads sign off on the covering letters for Tacnotes and Green Papers, while FOTIs and FPNs get Dir(Mil)'s John Hancock. Other than that, it comes down to "if you're right your contribution's in, if it's wrong it's out" by lively debate among the authors (who can be drawn from a mix of serving Navy, Dstl, MoD and contractors).

    On paper I'm an SO1 (on one of the scales - there are several and they conflict) - doesn't let me sign off and force through anything that my uniformed colleagues don't agree with, and this is right and proper because it's unlikely that I'll be aboard when my advice is put to a hostile test. In practice, if I can make a good case my advice stands, if not it gets overruled, just like my assorted colleagues.

    Dir(Sci) calls it his "magic mixture" and while it's not perfect, it works pretty well. And part of it is that the admin issues that you describe get kept out of the picture of the staff who are, at the crudest, trying to keep nasty hostile munitions out of HM ships.

    And, bluntly, when I'm swapping messages with the WEO of a ship who had a big worry about his main armament, nobody anywhere in the system asked "are you of a high enough grade to...?". I got told to help him out so I did. Clarify the problem, talk to MCTA who had just got the tapes showing it and had their own ideas about what was happening, run round the various SMEs, confirm what was going on and what to do about it - curiously, not one person asked for my rank or grade, we had a deployed ship with a problem and we all cracked on to fix it.

    I don't doubt that in some places it's vital to have the right permissions on your account for the job. I just took over as team leader of our particular crew of analysts and suddenly get to sign off on scary sums of money, write their performance reports, and all the other grief that goes with the job. But I didn't get promoted (yet) - acting rank only. All the work, none of the benefits... and none of it reads across to the military.

    But we just don't get that agitated about 'equivalent rank' where civilian analysts are concerned. You're worth listening to... or you aren't. You can be trusted to solve a problem... or you can't. And there it seems to end, whatever your notional grade.

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