05 August 2004 | Sally Mesner
The Defence Procurement Agency has dismissed as "ridiculous" claims by MPs that it operates under a culture of fear.
The House of Commons defence committee described the performance of the DPA in 2002-03 as "woeful" in its report on procurement performance published last week. It said there had been delays on major projects of 18 months and annual cost increases of £3.1 billion.
The report attributed the problems to a fear culture, where people would hide problems with projects instead of speaking up about them, and an ineffective internal review process. It called for a "culture change at the agency" to encourage people to speak up about problems.
But a DPA spokesman told SM: "This report is unbalanced and inconsistent. We do not accept that the DPA's performance has been woeful and the 'culture of fear' comment is ridiculous."
He said the DPA had introduced Office of Government Commerce Gateway reviews last year to improve internal review processes and had been working to improve the management of projects since April.
Derek Marshall, assistant secretary of the Defence Industries Council which represents defence industry suppliers, said: "While you can't deny the slippages and overruns, to say that the DPA is being ineffectual as an institution is a bit narrow.
"The answer is not just a reform of the DPA. The way the Ministry of Defence does its budgeting overall should also change."