MoD accused of 'bungling' contract to recruit more reservists

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
5 September 2014

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5 September 2014 | Will Green

MPs have accused the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of “bungling” a recruitment contract with Capita which has led to £70 million savings being missed.

In a report the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the MoD signed a contract with Capita before taking the decision to increase the size of the Army Reserve, passed the firm details of 12,000 potential candidates rather than the 55,000 the company had been led to expect, and did not provide the IT infrastructure needed to deliver the contract.

“The department acknowledges this was unacceptable, and at least £70 million of the planned £267 million savings from the contract have already been lost,” said the report.

“The department has also had to pay Capita as though they met all of their recruitment targets in 2013/14, despite falling 4,000 short of its 6,000 target for reserve recruits.”

The committee recommends the MoD “ensure it is able to hold Capita to account” by “finalising and agreeing an interim performance regime”.

The report said the contract with Capita was part of a policy of increasing the number of reservists from 19,000 to 30,000 by 2019 while cutting the number of full-time soldiers by 20,000 to 82,500, to make savings of £10.6 billion between 2011/12 and 2021/22.

The PAC said the MoD did not conduct a feasibility study or adequately consult the Army before deciding the policy and there was a risk of “capability gaps”.

Margaret Hodge, PAC chairman and Labour MP, said: “The MoD’s bungling around the recruitment contract with Capita has meant at least £70 million of the planned £267 million savings from the contract have already been lost. There was no clear understanding of the scale of the recruitment challenge, poor information about potential recruits and the MoD did not provide Capita with the IT infrastructure it needed.”

The MoD said its plans were “developed over a period of time, in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders” and it is building a new IT platform, while the contract with Capita is “being managed through a robust governance process” including weekly meetings.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon said: “The chief of the general staff and I are confident that we will reach our target of 30,000 trained Army reservists by 2018/19. Indeed, we have arrested the many years of decline and neglect that has plagued our Reserve Forces and now we need to build on that.

“Our Army 2020 plans are on track and will deliver by 2020 the Army we need to counter the wide range of threats we face.”

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