MoD suspends helicopter rescue contract
Helicopters grounded by purchasing
Helicopter firm looks to Johnson for savings
MoD to chop helicopter suppliers
'Most incompetent procurement' is now 'gold standard cock-up'
8 February 2011 | Adam Leach
The Department forTransport (DfT)
has cancelled the procurement of new search and rescue helicopters after it
emerged that a bidder had access to sensitive information.
The tender process was halted last December when preferred bidder Soteria informed the
government that it might have gained an unfair advantage over its competitors.
It has now emerged that a member of the Soteria consortium accessed information
on the bid assessment criteria.
In a statement to Parliament, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond MP said: “The
irregularities included access by one of the consortium members, CHC
Helicopter, to commercially sensitive information regarding the joint MoD/DfT
project team's evaluations of industry bids and evidence that a former member
of that project team had assisted the consortium in its bid preparation,
contrary to explicit assurances given to the project team.”
The DfT has responded by scrapping the current bid process whilst they make
changes to ensure fairness. Explaining the decision to change the bid process,
Hammond said: “The government has sufficient information to enable it to
conclude that the irregularities that have been identified were such that that
it would not be appropriate to proceed with either the preferred bid or with
the current procurement process.”
In a statement released today Soteria said it is “disappointed to learn that
the UK government has announced the cancellation of the SAR-H programme.” It
added: “Soteria is evaluating the government's decision and if given the
opportunity is confident that it is capable of delivering the SAR-H programme
and stands ready to work with the UK government.”
The DfT will announce changes to the procurement process after a period of
The search and rescue PFI contract is valued at
around £6 billion. The consortium comprises helicopter service supplier CHC, manufacturer Sikorsky, training
provider Thales UK
and RBS, a PFI
The PFI deal will replace Sea King helicopters
being used by the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm to perform search and rescue off
the British coast.