Skills421 has recently tendered for and won Government project work directly. Whilst this is great news, the concern with public sector work is the time it takes to get paid. With the ongoing recession, the Government has mandated that small business should be paid expediently – so no more 3 months wait to get paid. At the same time, those departments that process invoices, approvals and payments appear to be manned by a new breed of dynamic civil servant (compared to some of those I encountered 20 years ago) who are keen, enthusiastic and helpful. It has been refreshing to be subjected to a level of service that not only does the job, but goes the extra mile.
The concern therefore comes with the new breed of Managed Services Providers. These organisations bid for the larger Government and Private Sector projects and then appear to use and abuse their position to manipulate, connive and victimise either deliberately or through negligence.
Managed Service Providers appears to be more and more a glorified name for “Big Agency” – but these new breed of Agency are power hungry and dangerous. They are often sole providers to large Government and Private Sector projects and they know it. They can work with other agencies and get them to supply staff, or they can use their own – but nobody gets through to the client without going through the MSP.
Herein lies several problems.
MSPs Eliminating the Competition
The relationship between Agency and Worker is often contentious. Agencies notoriously abuse the workers with late payments and incompetence, but you can always change agency if you want. Not so with this new breed of “Super Agency” and they know it. These agencies can not only control the worker and who gets work, but can also manipulate the client ensuring that the client only sees those people that the MSP wants them to see (rather than people suitable for the role). Furthermore, MSPs have been know to reject applications that don’t come through their own agency as opposed to other agencies and to single out agencies that they won’t countenance – regardless of the quality of person they put forward.
They even have the power to isolate other agencies to the brink of ruin, to ensure that projects fail with lack of available staff, and to butter their own bread.
Negligence and Incompetence increases with Monopoly
MSPs, safe in the knowledge that nobody can challenge their position at the top of the food chain can then subject workers to worse discrimination and abuse than any other agency or employer ever has. Ageism, racism, withholding payments of complainers, and illegal black lists are the new power toy of these Super Agencies who can reject applicants with no regard to the law of the land.
If they don’t like you, your colour, your age, your religion – how can you possibly challenge them if they control who works for the Government or the Private Sector – and they answer to nobody.
Furthermore, late payments, failure to set up processes, failure to vet candidates properly and failure to brief candidates leads to all end of problems for both the Client and the Worker – but neither are empowered to use a different provider. The Client is stuck with them and the worker is subject to their whim.
Government and Private Sector Held to Ransom
So, at this time of financial constraint, the Government and Private Sector are equally liable to be held to ransom by these MSPs. “We cannot find the staff, so you will have to use our solution”, “We cannot find the staff, but we have an offshore presence that can do the work for you”. The possible abuse of this power is limitless. Indeed, with the advent of the MSP the client is no longer in control of its own projects. The success or failure of these projects is firmly in the hands of these MSPs.
If the Government is to ensure the continued success of small business, ensure competition in the IT industry, ensure the success of Government and Private Sector projects – it needs to break these monopolies for larger projects and stop the abuse and victimisation of the Worker rather than facilitate it.
Government and Private Sector allowed to “Discriminate by Proxy”
Imagine you’re a large Government project or a Bank Project that wants to discriminate on Age, Sex, Disability, Race or other protected characteristics; but don’t want to get your own hands dirty.
Easy, use an MSP.
The possibilities are shocking, damaging to small business, damaging to projects and allow for breaches of the laws of the land that have been put in place to protect the vulnerable and rebuild the economy.
The Future’s Scary – the Future’s MSP