Ministry of Defence under fire for procurement fiasco

27 February 2009

27 February 2009 | Martha McKenzie- Minifie

A critical report on defence equipment deals has forecast more delays and budget problems for the MoD.

In its report Defence Equipment 2009 published yesterday, the House of Commons Defence Select Committee described the MoD's Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) programme to purchase utility vehicles as a "fiasco". "They have wasted the department's and the industry's time and money," said committee chair James Arbuthnot MP, who described the programme as poorly conceived and managed from the start. The A400M aircraft programme - running about two years late but supposed to provide the armed forces with a "much needed new tactical and strategic airlift" - is now so delayed it could be best to scrap it, the paper said. The ministry's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation performance in procuring longer-term equipment declined significantly in 2007-8, the report said, and cost and time targets for 2008-9 would be missed as well. "We are concerned that DE&S has failed to control delays on equipment projects with almost half of the 20 largest projects experiencing late completion in 2007-8," the report read. The committee said it was not satisfied with the ministry's explanations about how to rectify the decline in performance. Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Quentin Davies said the report praised the speed with which the ministry was delivering equipment to armed forces on operations.

"Rightly we are prioritising getting equipment out to those who need it most," he said. "But we are also maintaining our focus on delivering long-term equipment programmes."


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