08:19 GMT18 June 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The UK government has paid almost 1.5 million pounds ($1.9 million) in a single month to US consulting firms for advice regarding the country's upcoming exit from the European Union, The Times newspaper reported on Monday.

    American firms Boston Consulting and Bain & Company pocketed £750,000 over three installments while Deloitte and EY, two professional services firms, respectively garnered £486,473 and £178,312. PA Consulting, a British Firm specialising in IT work for the public service sector, also took home £220,000. 

    The Cabinet Office refused to disclose the nature of work it commissioned or total value of issued contracts, instead stating that the payments covered one month's work.  

    "The contracts cover skills that are needed on EU exit preparation and implementation to allow the widest scope for departments to secure the capability they need, including commercial, operational, programme and project management," the Cabinet Office said, as quoted by the outlet.

    READ MORE: UK Chancellor Hammond Unveils Fiscal Stimulus to Offset Brexit Risks

    The expenses were part of the Cabinet Offices' "exit capability team" initiated earlier this year, which will help shape border contingencies, build an EU citizen registry, and establish a database for cross-border shipments of livestock and biological products amid a no-deal Brexit. 

    "Their job is to identify the riskiest projects and then do ‘deep dives' to make sure that the things departments say are happening really are," a former minister told the Times. 

    In August, the UK government hired Deloitte for $3.3 million to train the staff of the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) to tackle unfair trade practices that may occur after the country exits the European Union.

    According to the BuzzFeed News portal, UK taxpayers could end up spending around 40 million pounds ($51 million) on external consultancy services related to Brexit.

    UK Preparedness for Brexit 

    A House of Commons on Public Accounts report released in January highlighted massive difficulties in coordinating post-Brexit resources, including civil servants, labor, and funds, and exposed possible reasons behind the hefty consultancy and project management expenses.  

    Public Accounts Committee chairman Geoffrey Clifton-Brown interrogated Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary John Manzoni in December 2017 on the disruptiveness caused by reshuffling immense numbers of public funds and civil servants throughout the central government. 

    Manzoni, who worked with UK oil conglomerate British Petroleum (BP) for 24 years and has over 30 years in the private sector, joined the Cabinet Office in 2014 as chief executive of the Major Projects Authority and is tasked with working with permanent secretaries across government to reform and make the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) program more efficient. 

    Manzoni disclosed that the UK government was working with the private sector to tackle phases of the Brexit process, stating that "we are going to have a challenge here and we are going to need to use all of the resources that you can supply us," and adding that there would be many "frameworks, access to consultants, partnerships with big strategic suppliers," among others. 

    Manzoni mentioned that the current system had taken eight months to build, with civil servants and consultants assisting in various sectors from commercial, project management, and government work. 

    During the meeting, Don Valley MP Caroline Flint also grilled permanent secretary at the DExEU Philip Rycroft over the total cost of post-Brexit expenses while noting the lack of transparency in the DExEU's cost efficiency. 

    Flint also demanded to know if the DExEU would inform Parliament and the public on its expenses, including costs directed towards third-party dependencies, stating that the department was spending money on "services that we might not have had to worry about before."  

    She also enquired if the department was ensuring "good communication" with local governments, who rely of government financial resources to carry out their roles, in addition to making sure that all short and long-term contractors were held accountable for their work.


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