MoD critic set to lead defence procurement

17 December 2010
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17 December 2010 | Lindsay Clark

The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has appointed Bernard Gray to head all aspects of defence equipment and support purchasing.

As chief of defence materiel he will be responsible for MoD assets worth £104 billion and an annual operating budget of £13 billion.

In October 2009, Gray published an independent report severely criticising defence procurement. It found the average MoD procurement programme overran by 80 per cent or about five years from the time specified at initial approval through to in-service dates. The average increase in cost of these programmes was 40 per cent or around £300 million, his report said.

Gray now replaces general Sir Kevin O’Donoghue who has been in the post since its creation in April 2007 and is retiring. Gray will take up his four-year appointment in January.

Defence secretary Liam Fox said: “[Gray] brings to it deep knowledge and experience of defence generally, defence procurement specifically, of the Whitehall machine and the commercial world.

“Unlike many others who talk about the problems facing defence procurement, he talks about solutions. He will provide clear direction and leadership to defence equipment and support during the very challenging time ahead and will be a huge asset to the defence board and the civilian leadership team in defence.”

The MoD said it had accepted the two main themes of Gray’s 2009 report: a need to bring equipment plans into line with likely available resources; and a need to improve equipment programme planning, management and delivery.

David Noble CIPS CEO said: "News that a chief of defence materiel has been appointed at the MoD is no great surprise given the column inches dedicated to defence procurement. The fact that Bernard Gray was appointed will create greater controversy after his damning report in 2009.
"Yet, it’s widely agreed that a strategic approach and a professional approach to making procurement and supply decisions, will bring dividends and solve many of the problems currently faced by the MoD."

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