Want to be in charge of billions of pounds of PFI procurement and have a say in the country's future hospitals, roads and schools? Well, there's a job going at the Treasury - the only snag is that none of the front-runners seem interesting in applying
Being head of the private finance unit at the Treasury is one of the few jobs in the civil service - although it never goes to a department mandarin, rather a heavyweight figure from the private sector - that carries real clout.
The spending of billions of pounds and control of the country’s hospitals, roads and schools is effectively in this man or woman’s hands.
And there is a vacancy. The incumbent, Richard Abadie, is to return to PricewaterhouseCoopers in December having completed his two-year secondment. Apparently the Treasury has had eight or nine applications - hardly a queue forming, is it?
So much for my tips. I had become convinced that Nick Prior, the head of the private finance unit at the Ministry of Defence, would get the job. So much so, that I saw his slick presentation at a PPP conference yesterday morning as virtually an application for the job, having pointed out that his department had already introduced many of the contract innovations that the Treasury wants rolled out across the PFI.
By this morning, I find out that he’s off to Deloitte & Touche, a more lucrative role, and had already passed up the opportunity to apply when he had apparently been given heavy hints that he was in with a great chance of the Treasury job.
Then, there was Richard Payne, the former Currie & Brown director. Once heavily into the PFI, he now works in property, and has not been approached for the job, despite many talking up his chances.
Jeff Thornton, the Royal Bank of Scotland’s PFI guru, certainly isn’t going for the job, while the don of them all, KPMG’s Tim Stone, is almost certainly sitting on too good a deal to sacrifice for the distinct unpleasantness of being responsible for stuck-in-their-way officials. SMIF’s Bill Doughty is probably far too well off now for the bother.
So, I’m stuck. All I know for sure is that the Treasury has come around to thinking that it wants someone from industry, be it construction, IT, whatever, rather than a banker or an adviser.
I’ll be interested to see if the department gets a real star.