3 MAY 1940, Page 3

The Detection of Waste

The Select Committee on National Expenditure which is steadily pursuing its useful work, is not intended to be an inquisition. Its function is to bring its special experience to bear to help the departments rather than to arraign them, and to suggest means of effecting economies which they are often willing enough to adopt before there is any question of dealing with the issue in a report. In its second report the Committee points out that many of its more important activities will never need to be given publicity. When it calls the attention of any department to some actual or potential waste which it has dis- covered action is generally taken forthwith without further to-do. One of the most important questions to which it is giving attention is that of competitive bidding among con- tractors for the services of workmen. When contractors can afford to bribe workers away from other firms by offering extra bonuses it is probable that the prices they are receiving under the contract are excessive. The fact that the departments are bound to place their orders in a hurry gives scope to the profiteer. Here the Select Committee can help.