Tag Archives: MoD

Mutuals Briefing updated

By David Bicknell

One of the most popular areas of Campaign4Change is Mutuals Briefing, a digest of useful information and links around mutuals and mutualisation.

Mutuals Briefing has now been updated to reflect recent announcements by the Cabinet Office covering a report on Mutual Pathfinders, the Mutuals Taskforce Evidence Paper, and the launch of the Mutuals Information Service.  You can also find links to stories covering mutuals issues at the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, and at the Defence Equipment & Support ( DE&S) arm of the Ministry of Defence.

MoD rules out mutual option in reorganisation of Defence Equipment and Support arm

By David Bicknell

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ruled out choosing a spin-off mutual as one of the three models being considered for a re-organisation of the key Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation.

Campaign4Change recently received a tip-off from an MoD insider who was concerned that the mutuals option had been ruled out.

The MoD has confirmed that there is no mutuals route, and that its three options will be:

*  A Trading Fund: where DE&S continues to be a part of the MoD but has a hard-charging regime. Its staff are civil service employees. 

* An Executive Non-Departmental Public Body: where DE&S remains in the public sector. Staff are public sector employees but not civil servants.

* A Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO): A private sector organisation. Staff are private sector employees with potentially some government secondees.

Asked why the mutuals option had been overlooked,  an MoD spokeswoman said, “Further to our conversation about the options that have been proposed for the future of DE&S, I can confirm that we’re not looking at mutuals. The reason for that is that simply, we do not consider it appropriate.

“We have considered a wide range of options for DE&S and centred analysis on three we believe will most suit the requirements of the organisation.  We have kept all stakeholders, including across central Government, aware of this analysis.” 

The MoD says the three options will be presented to ministers in due course who will decide on a preferred way forward.

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) equips and supports the UK’s armed forces for current and future operations. Employing around 20,000 people, with a budget of some £14 billion, its headquarters is in Bristol with other sites across the UK and overseas.

DE&S acquires and supports equipment and services, including ships, aircraft, vehicles and weapons, information systems and satellite communications. As well as continuing to supply general requirements, food, clothing, medical and temporary accommodation, DE&S is also responsible for HM Naval Bases, the joint support chain and British Forces Post Office.

MPs criticise PFI value for money and the MoD’s failure to invest in effective logistics systems

By David Bicknell

Two parliamentary committees, the Treasury Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee, have today made strong criticisms about the use of private finance initiatives (PFI) and of IT systems for defence logisitics.

In its report, the Treasury Select Committee suggested that PFI funding for new infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, does not provide taxpayers with good value for money and stricter criteria should be introduced to govern its use.

The Committee’s chairman, Andrew Tyrie MP, said:

“PFI means getting something now and paying later. Any Whitehall department could be excused for becoming addicted to that. We can’t carry on as we are, expecting the next generation of taxpayers to pick up the tab. PFI should only be used where we can show clear benefits for the taxpayer. We must first acknowledge we’ve got a problem. This will be tough in the short term but it should benefit the economy and public finances in the longer term.

“PFI should be brought on balance sheet. The Treasury should remove any perverse incentives unrelated to value for money by ensuring that PFI is not used to circumvent departmental budget limits. It should also ask the OBR to include PFI liabilities in future assessments of the fiscal rules. 

We must also impose much more robust criteria on projects that can be eligible for PFI by ensuring that as much as possible of the risk associated with PFI projects is transferred to the private sector and is seen to have been transferred.”

In its report on the defence logistics supply chain, the Public Accounts Committee was critical that the MoD had made little progress in resolving long-standing problems with its supply chain information, despite giving previous assurances to the Committee.

Its recommendations for improving future performance include the following comments:

The Department accepts that historic underinvestment has meant its management information systems and the underlying IT systems are not up to the task. In particular, its spending on IT systems has not kept pace with the need to upgrade those systems.

 “The Department has made investments in new data systems – for example £66 million has been spent on the Management of the Joint Deployed Inventory system which tracks equipment in theatre – and more is planned.

“In 2010, the Department signed an £803 million, 11-year contract with Boeing for the provision of the Future Logistics Information Services project. Under this contract, Boeing is required to bring together 270 different data systems operated by 50 different contractors, which should provide a complete and coherent set of data for managers to use.

“Separately, the Department has now approved an additional £75 million to upgrade some of the defence base inventory management systems that are now at critical risk of failure.

“The implementation of the Future Logistics Information Services project, including the additional upgrade to the warehouse inventory management IT system, will not be complete until 2014. The Department told us it would take a long time to upgrade systems and data, in part because of the need to ‘cleanse’ the data – otherwise the poor quality information the Department currently holds would simply be transferred onto a better IT system.

“We are very concerned that, until the systems are fully rolled out in 2014, the high risk of system failure will remain in systems that are critical to supporting front line troops. To ensure that there is no further slippage in this critical area, the Department has provided us with a plan of the scheduled projects for improving data systems and has promised to report back in six and twelve months on how it is performing against its milestones.”

(Tony Collins is away this week.  But he’ll be back shortly to offer his unique insight on Government and public sector IT projects)