31 October 2002 | Robin Parker
More than two-thirds of suppliers to the Royal Navy have been deleted from the force's database because the records were wrong or out of date.
The cull is a result of a major two-year Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) project to unify inventory information and cut costly overstocking.
More than 15,000 suppliers have been removed from the navy's database - 68 per cent of total records - since the "Cleansing Project" began in September 2000.
Data on 48 per cent of army suppliers was also redundant and the airforce's database is currently under scrutiny.
A National Audit Office report earlier this year said inventory errors and overstocking were common at the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
In one case, brass nuts worth £1.17 were reportedly valued at £83 million.
The DLO claims the £2 million automated data analysis project has saved more than £20 million, cut overall inventory by 38,000 types of items and unified product codes.
Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Stafford, the project's team leader, said data quality must be a priority for the MoD if purchasers are to get vital supplies to the front line.
"There was no culture of data maintenance in the past. It's been a question of stripping the dead wood," he said.
Retired Brigadier Frank Steer, who spent 34 years in MoD logistics and is now director-general of the Institute of Quality Assurance, said the reform was long overdue.
"The DLO today should be thankful the data management is as good as it is, because we had to fight the attitude that it was irrelevant."