Hutton attacks MoD ‘procurement shambles’

26 January 2010

26 January 2010 | Jake Kanter

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) must learn from its past procurement mistakes, the Iraq inquiry was told yesterday.

Giving evidence at the inquiry in London, former defence secretary John Hutton said a project to buy a new generation of army vehicles was a “procurement shambles”.

The Future Rapid Effects System (Fres) has been beset by delays and design changes, leaving troops in Iraq and Afghanistan short of armoured vehicles.

Hutton said it was a “grim episode”, from which lessons must be learnt. “We couldn’t settle on the specification. We changed our mind about certain aspects of how we wanted to go ahead with the procurement. We started, we stopped.

“In my view it makes the case for a very urgent reform and shakeup of the equipment procurement function of the MoD absolutely essential.”

Hutton said there was an argument for buying equipment “off the shelf” from existing technology, rather than “reinventing the wheel” as in the case of the Fres programme.

“People will long argue about the Future Rapid Effects programme, but the one fact people can’t argue with is that 10 years into it we still haven’t got a single vehicle,” he said.

The government is to publish a strategy for acquisition reform after the general election, which will respond to some of the findings in a damning procurement review last year by former defence official Bernard Gray.

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