New British scientific body could serve as ‘crony cover’ | Science

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A new £ 800million government science and defense agency will be exempt from existing procurement rules, prompting Labor to warn it could be used as ‘cover for cronyism’.

Originally, the original idea of ​​Dominic Cummings, the Agency for Advanced Research and Innovation (Aria) will be more slightly regulated than a normal government agency.

A press release issued on Tuesday to accompany the release of the bill needed to set up the body said it would emulate the long-established US agency Darpa, which operates “outside of procurement procedures. standard government contracts ”.

The Aria bill, the government statement added, “will provide the agency with exemption from existing government procurement regulations, allowing Aria to procure vital services and equipment with maximum flexibility in order to be able to conduct groundbreaking research at speeds rivaling a private investment firm ”.

Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, said: “’Maximum flexibility’ sounds like an excuse not to compete. Government procurement has been riddled with conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. Ministers are not to use Aria as a cover for another cronyism.

Kwasi Kwarteng,…

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