5 July 2011 | Angeline Albert
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has lost military assets worth £6.3 billion and does not know whether they
still exist, according to a report out today.
The House of Commons’ Defence
Select Committee’s The performance of the Ministry of Defence 2009–10 highlighted inventory control as a major concern.
The report said
insufficient evidence was provided for inventory of
military equipment, which included £568 million of assets such as
firearms. The MoD could not confirm the location of 13 per cent (5,961) of Bowman
radios, representing £184 million in 2009-10.
It said: “It is alarming that the department should be
unaware of the location, usability or indeed the continued existence of assets
to a total value of £6.3 billion, including radios worth £184 million.”
Committee chairman James
Arbuthnot MP said: “The MoD’s inability to manage existing resources makes it
harder for it to request additional funding. The committee finds it wholly
unsatisfactory that the MoD expects that its stock control problems will
probably continue for another two to four years.”
The select committee
report said that when a National Audit Office (NAO) report found similar issues in 2008/09, the
previous secretary of state told the same committee “if a vehicle fitted with a
Bowman radio is broken in theatre...a soldier is able to take the Bowman radio
out and keep that in theatre and the vehicle comes back to the UK...without the
radio. That gives us a great degree of flexibility in theatre”.
The select committee report raised wider concerns about
inventory accounts and warehouse systems in general. It said, following the
NAO’s audit in 2008/09,the MoD had implemented key controls over
inventory that were operated by the Defence Storage and Distribution Agency
the NAO told the Defence
“While the routine inventory checks now carried out by DSDA comply with the
department’s mandated requirements, these checks indicated that inventory
recorded on the system did not match the stock count at 29 per cent of
locations.” The NAO’s audit work identified “significant levels” of stock
recorded on the system that could not be found on the shelves, and items on
shelves that were unrecorded.
The MoD’s failure to adhere to
International Financial Reporting Standards has resulted in the NAO’s decision to check the
department’s accounts for the fourth successive year. Under the comprehensive spending
review, the MoD must save £8 billion over the next four years.