G4S CEO confirms scheduling system to blame for Olympics security shortfall

Nick Buckles today told MPs that G4S COO confirmed on 3 July that there was a problem with the London 2012 Olympics contract

G4S' CEO, Nick Buckles, confirmed to MPs today that problems with the company's scheduling system is partly to blame for the shortfall of over 3,000 security staff for the London 2012 Olympic Games that are to begin next week.

Speaking at a parliamentary committee meeting today, Buckles told MPs that he got a call from the group's COO, David Taylor Smith, on 3 July, while he was on holiday in the US, citing problems with the company's rostering software.

Smith told him that the staff deficit was "partly down to the scheduling system, which hasn't effectively worked to register staff".

Buckles flew back from America that day and immediately set up discussions with Locog, the Olympics organisers, the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the military to review the scheduling data.

The group took eight days to reassess the scheduling process and establish that G4S could not deliver on its contractual commitments, and told Home secretary Theresa May on the 11 July that there would be a shortfall.

Ian Horseman-Sewell, the account director for the Olympics contract, was also present for questioning and had to admit to MPs that when he told Reuters news agency on the 6 July that G4S could deliver staff to both an Olympic Games in London and one in Australia if it had to, he was aware of a problem with the scheduling system at this stage. However, he denies that he knew there would be a shortfall in staff.

Horseman-Sewell said: "I sincerely believed we could deliver, but I did know about the specific scheduling problem."

Buckles said that the software managed the rostering pipeline and reports were provided every week. Some 110,000 people applied online and 50,000 people were interviewed in the last six months.

He also said it is the same system used to deploy between 6,000 and 7,000 security staff to events every weekend.

G4S won the security contract with LOCOG, the organisers of the Olympic Games, after it submitted a tender at least 25 percent lower than any of its competitors. However, it was revealed last week that it was not going to be able to fulfil its contractual commitments and the Home Office is being forced to deploy some 3,500 soldiers to cover the shortfall.

Home secretary Theresa May is now under pressure to explain why the government has had to make the decision to deploy troops at this late stage, considering that the Games start in the capital next week.

G4S has said that the firm faces a penalty of up to £20 million for failing to deliver on its £284 million contract, as well as having to pay the Ministry of Defence (MoD) £30 million for providing the troops, bringing the total cost to £50 million. However, answering questions today, Buckles stated that he still expects to claim a management fee of £57 million.

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