Lawmakers slam Olympic planners after G4S debacle

AP News
Posted: Jul 18, 2012 6:01 PM
Lawmakers slam Olympic planners after G4S debacle

LONDON (AP) — Confidence in the London Olympics has been undermined by the security contractor's failure to supply enough guards, a U.K. parliamentary committee said Thursday in a damning report of the games' organizers and the government.

The Public Accounts Committee expressed concern that the security firm G4S had already received public money to supply guards — even though it hasn't yet delivered. Britain's government will deploy an additional 3,500 servicemen at the games after G4S failed to recruit all of the 10,400 private security guards it had promised to protect 100 Olympic-related venues.

The committee expressed its dismay at the turn of events, which comes less than a year after the London organizing committee (LOCOG) had to admit they had badly miscalculated the number of Olympic guards needed in the first place.

"We are not security experts," the report said, "but the sheer scale of the increase in the number of guards required in barely more than a year from 10,000 to over 23,000, coupled with the fact that LOCOG entered a commercial contract on the basis of the earlier estimates and then had to renegotiate the terms of that contract within a year, does not give us confidence in the management of this aspect of the preparations for the Games."

In a parliamentary hearing broadcast live in Britain, the chief executive of G4S acknowledged Tuesday that his company's failure to hire enough Olympic security guards had embarrassed the nation. The military then had to race to the rescue only days before the games start July 27.

G4S chief executive Nick Buckles made a groveling apology as he was questioned by angry British lawmakers but suggested in the report that sorry wasn't enough. The report said the company, one of the world's largest security providers, should not only pay for all additional costs incurred by the government for bringing the extra troops in but also face financial penalties for the failing to deliver.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to "go after" G4S if they don't fulfill their contract to make sure the company helps pay for the cost of additional military personnel.

The committee chairman, Margaret Hodge, argued that the troubles were predictable and said there was now a scramble to make sure there will be enough security personnel on the ground.

"No credible explanation has been given for an astonishing 12-fold hike in management costs, from 10 million pounds ($15.6 million) to 125 million pounds ($195.6 million), and G4S still has not been able to deliver," Hodge told Britain's Press Association. "Now troops are having to be drafted in. The Home Office needs to get a grip on LOCOG and G4S urgently."