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The QinetiQ Question - A Public Scandal or a National Triumph? [Kindle Edition]

John Chisholm
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 366 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

This is the story of a unique and brave project that resulted in turning the world renowned defence laboratories of the United Kingdom into a successful international company. No other country has attempted anything so enterprising. But at the moment of fruition the project became hugely controversial. This is the inside story of the men and women who set off on this untrodden path to an unknown destination yet succeeded against the odds. It tells for the first time how the controversy which surrounded its culmination came about.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 589 KB
  • Print Length: 366 pages
  • Publisher: John Chisholm; 1 edition (21 Dec. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006OZOA7O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #112,869 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Whitewash 6 Mar. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This work of fiction appears to be Sir John Chisholm's attempt to clean up his image in the wake of the DERA privatisation, where the UK taxpayer appeared at first glances to have been fleeced for hundreds of millions. JC uses this book in an attempt to persuade us otherwise, and that the UK taxpayer actually got a good deal.

Here are a few facts:

John Chisolm took over at the helm of what was to become The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), the R&D branch of the MoD, in 1991. JC contracted out most of DERA's support services, such as running the staff canteens, office support and cleaning. A major shareholder of the company which won the contract (COMAX) was none other than JC's wife.

While chief executive of DERA, Chisholm worked hard at convincing Blair's government that floating DERA on the stock market might be a good idea. In 2001, when Qinetiq was created JC bought £129,000 worth of preferential shares. Upon floatation, these shares became worth £23 million, a return on investment of more than 18,000%.

The Carlyle Group, a US private equity company with close ties to the governments of George H and George W Bush 'invested' £42m, which translated to over £370m by the time they sold their stake four years later following full floatation, a 7-fold return on investment. It has never been adequately explained why QinetiQ didn't go to The City of London for investment funds. Carlyle's European operation was fronted by former PM John Major.

The National Audit Office investigated the privatisation of DERA and were highly critical of the directors share deals and the Carlyle Group investment, saying that the UK taxpayer had lost tens of millions of pounds.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Left a sour taste ... 27 May 2014
By James H
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having spent the strangest few months of my career working on a short term assignment at QinetiQ I was very interested in reading the background to how this organisation was created.

Personally I think Sir John Chisholm should have continued to take his ex-Shandwick PR guru’s advice and kept his head low, as publishing this book in the wake of the banking greed induced ‘great recession’ has only really served to reinforce the deep suspicions many of us held that we were being ripped off left, right and centre by a capitalist system that has got increasingly out of control.

This book demonstrates very well how the rich have got considerably richer during the last few decades and why the 99% of us have been left to deal with ‘austerity’.

Having spent a fair chunk of my career in the trenches of research driven technology organisations who have been through similar transitions from public sector to private ownership I could relate a lot to the challenges described in this book and at times Sir John gained my sympathy and admiration for steering the DRA through the choppy waters of such fundamental change.

However, although I was swept along with the narrative of the challenges and opportunities, perhaps in a similar way to the investors and employees were at the time, the final chapter of the book left me with a very sour taste indeed.

Firstly, the lesson learned about staying at the top for far too long struck me as incredibly naive. Any one of us has a sense of when the pendulum swings from us adding value to a scenario to becoming a burden and it certainly left me with the feeling that Sir John was in it for himself and his senior level cronies rather than the taxpayer for a good percentage of those 15 years in charge.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Open Minded 14 Sept. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is true to say that with the funding cuts that followed the end of the 'Cold War' that the viability of DERA was increasingly challenged so change was inevitable. At the time that Chisholm took control the organisation was largely run by 'patronage' the work was poorly focused, and the exploitation of the research was poor as it is to this day. John Chisholm side-lined the ‘patronage’ and made the organisation more ‘meritocratic’. Internally the tensions were clear, the ‘patronage’ were trying to resist change and were undermining what Chisholm was trying to achieve. Department managers and staff were hiding huge overspends, the ‘patronage’ were completely out of their depth were ‘bullying’, with many behaving fraudulently, and corruption was rife. Many managers and their staff had their heads firmly buried in the sand (even to this day), however, change could not be avoided. Those that tried to make change happen became extremely unpopular. Many of the changes gave a better focus to the work making life more enjoyable.

I opened the book hoping that I would gain an insight into the decision making process but was extremely disappointed to find that it contained a lot of name dropping. Perhaps Sir John would write a second book containing his logic and rationale.

Yes Sir John is a commercial animal (not a Civil Servant) who was employed by MoD. Yes he did engage COMAX but this should have been spotted by his managers and he should have been stopped. Likewise the share deals with the Carlyle Group this should have been managed by his MoD employers but clearly it wasn’t. If you put a cat in an aviary and he eats the birds you cannot blame the cat.
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