FRES labeled the most disastrously managed program

#1
FRES 'Most Disastrously Managed Program'

LONDON - Britain's Future Rapid Effects System armored vehicle project has been labeled the most disastrously managed program in the history of defense by the chairman of the Parliamentary defense committee.

The rebuke from Chairman James Arbuthnot came Dec. 16 as new Procurement Minister Quentin Davis and top officials from the Ministry of Defense gave testimony on the state of the defense equipment program here.

Arbuthnot's attack on the competence of the MoD to run the 16 billion pound ($24.7 billion) FRES program came after the government's decision last week to abandon long-running talks with General Dynamics UK over the supply of its Piranha V wheeled armored vehicle design to meet the utility vehicle element of Britain's key army program because the two sides failed to agree on commercial terms.

Instead, the Ministry said it was changing its priorities to bring into service "as quickly as possible" the tracked scout version of the FRES family and an upgrade of the Army's Warrior infantry fighting vehicle.

The changing priorities for FRES were part of a wider equipment examination across the MoD that saw Defense Secretary John Hutton announce delays to Britain's aircraft carrier and fleet tanker programs and minor cuts to the Future Lynx helicopter project.

Hutton said that the army's current heavy investment in protected mobility vehicles for Afghanistan meant the FRES priority should switch to the scout vehicle to replace the recently upgraded but aging CVR(T) in service with the British Army.

"Is this [FRES] not the most disastrously managed program in defense industry?" the committee chairman asked Davis and his officials.

Amyas Morse, the commercial director at the MoD, could only respond by saying that he "wasn't in a position to make that relative judgment."

Arbuthnot had earlier reminded Davis and his officials that a 2006 committee report into FRES had criticized the MoD, saying the program was a "sorry story of indecision, constantly changing requirements and delay.

General Dynamics were named provisional preferred bidder for the utility vehicle design in May ahead of rival offerings from Nexter with the VBCI and the Dutch/German ARTEC concerns Boxer - a program from which the British had earlier withdrawn due to changing requirements.

The UK arm of General Dynamics was selected even though company officials had made clear that they would not comply with MoD requirements to hand the design over to a third party for chassis manufacture and systems integration.

From the outset, General Dynamics had said it wouldn't agree to pass over its design without some guarantee of additional substantial work on the program.

Asked why the MoD had agreed to nominate General Dynamics even though it was noncompliant, Davis said the MoD had thought the company would "come around to agreeing to work under the principles of the contract."

The government's convoluted acquisition program for FRES utility includes the appointment of a Thales/Boeing team to aid the MoD as the systems of systems integrator, a vehicle designer and a vehicle integrator.

The integrator program would have pitched BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and a General Dynamics team into competition for the work.

Now the government is reconsidering how and when to proceed with the utility requirement. It says General Dynamics can compete again for the program at a later date.

That looks unlikely unless there is a change in the acquisition process by the MoD. That appeared possible, with the MoD acknowledging in a statement released Dec. 16 that it was looking at how to proceed with the integrator role.

"The MoD is considering how best and when to take forward the utility vehicle program. This will include consideration of the way forward on the utility vehicle integrator competition."

On the scout vehicle front, the ministry said the "FRES Specialist Vehicles, which includes Scout, is currently in its assessment phase. An announcement on the procurement strategy for FRES Specialist Vehicles will be made in due course."

The origins of the FRES program go back to the late 1990s as the answer to British Army requirements to rebalance its forces with air-transportable, medium-weight armored formations.

Covering wheeled and tracked vehicles across 16 different roles ranging from the utility variant to reconnaissance, support and direct fire variants, FRES has for some years now been called the Army's priority program.

Estimates vary about how much has been spent on the project by the MoD so far without producing a single vehicle, but it's not difficult to get beyond 400 million pounds by the time the 188-million-pound cost of the canceled Tracer and Boxer programs, assessment phase work on FRES, technology demonstrator projects and other spending is taken into account.

more at:

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=3868006&c=LAN&s=TOP
 
#2
its a disgrace. fact.

no matter how its dressed up and how 'complex' it may be, its shameful.
 
#3
Except for inter alia Nimrod, Bowman and MRAV, perhaps?

These large projects are always difficult to manage. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians....!

Litotes
 
#4
Litotes said:
Except for inter alia Nimrod, Bowman and MRAV, perhaps?

These large projects are always difficult to manage. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians....!

Litotes
nah, fres takes the biscuit as there was an extant military off the shelf solution that we dily-dalied around wasting millions before making a decsion on that military off the shelf solution - that we've now cancelled!!
 
#8
Litotes said:
Except for inter alia Nimrod, Bowman and MRAV, perhaps?

These large projects are always difficult to manage. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians....!

Litotes
Sorry, I've got to edit that one....

These large projects are always difficult for the Civil Service to manage.

Civi Street seems to cope normally, soon as a Government Department go near it.....Pete Tong all round!
 
#9
Kitmarlowe said:
Litotes said:
Except for inter alia Nimrod, Bowman and MRAV, perhaps?

These large projects are always difficult to manage. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians....!

Litotes
Sorry, I've got to edit that one....

These large projects are always difficult for the Civil Service to manage.

Civi Street seems to cope normally, soon as a Government Department go near it.....Pete Tong all round!
the civil service didn't manage FRES, whilst there may be CS on the project team it remains a military project.

IIRC within DEC GM's remit, please correct if wrong!
 
#10
strip away the bollocks of microwave armour and punch above that of a chally 2 :roll:

it a wheeled apc with a gun possible missile on
err theres quite a few of those floating about :evil:
 
#11
Danny_Dravot said:
the civil service didn't manage FRES, whilst there may be CS on the project team it remains a military project.

IIRC within DEC GM's remit, please correct if wrong!
I'm pretty sure the head of the FRES IPT is a CS. A chap called Phil Riley if a quick Google is correct.

There may well be Military in the IPT and above it, but the main team will be a DE&S team, which is civil service mainly. I'll wait to be corrected but that's my understanding.

S_R
 
#12
Sympathetic_Reaction said:
I'm pretty sure the head of the FRES IPT is a CS. A chap called Phil Riley if a quick Google is correct.

There may well be Military in the IPT and above it, but the main team will be a DE&S team, which is civil service mainly. I'll wait to be corrected but that's my understanding.

S_R
Whilst a headcount would show most IPT staff to be CS, this includes a substantial proportion at fairly low level. A high number of 'decision-making' posts however (including nearly all requirements managers) tend to be military officers at SO1/SO2 level.

However, I would concur with the'chiefs and indians' parallel - really far to much emphasis on the process of procurement, rather than the spirit of the requirement.
 
#13
I know two of the past SO1s on FRES and they were both highly competent, well qualified officers. however they were embedded in the DPA (as was) and so effectively neutralised. Neither chose to continue their careers in green.
 
#14
Sympathetic_Reaction said:
Danny_Dravot said:
the civil service didn't manage FRES, whilst there may be CS on the project team it remains a military project.

IIRC within DEC GM's remit, please correct if wrong!
I'm pretty sure the head of the FRES IPT is a CS. A chap called Phil Riley if a quick Google is correct.

There may well be Military in the IPT and above it, but the main team will be a DE&S team, which is civil service mainly. I'll wait to be corrected but that's my understanding.

S_R
yes, but don't forget that the IPT dances to the tune of the DEC
 
#15
Saw this coming a long time ago - it has always been a programme looking for a doctrine.

That and trying to shoehorn too many incompatible requirements into a single family of kit.
 
#16
The procurement process itself wasn't flawed. It was the fact that HMG (read Brown) continually cut the budget and placed the money further and further away from the point of spend.

As I've written before, the decision by the IAB not to back Drayson when he had the chance to move the programme on doesn't reflect well on the it either.

Perhaps it was always going to be no go when a industrialist go getter hit the wall of the conservatism of the CoC. Screwing us now though......

http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/printertopic=1/p=1657080.html

Don't blame the desk officers (nor frankly Amyus Morse and Lord Drayson); blame the sodding Treasury and our own IAB for being a set of wet hens.
 
#17
Like ALL military projects it employs a hierarchical functional structure masquerading as a matrix structure in order to pretend it is a project oriented organisation. What's wrong with doing what's on the tin: Integrated Project Team would infer (wrongly) a Project Organisation.

Which one of these success factors would you apply to an IPT?
Decentralized reporting
Flat hierarchy
High transient speed
High transparency
Low residual mass
Permanent monitoring
Rapid response
Shared reliability

These are some of the success factors associated with an effective project organisation.

It really is schoolboy stuff and something the MoD; as a whole, haven't got a clue about. They aren't alone which is why huge international organisations employ Project Management Companies to manage big projects- it's what they are designed to do: on budget, on time and to quality and expectation or they don't get paid!
 
#18
The whole FRES thing has had my blood boiling for ages and as the select committee says, a textbook example of how to p1ss hundreds of millions of pounds up the wall with nothing but some PowerPoint slides, a paperwork mountain and a few demonstrators to show for it. That money is money that could well have been spent elsewhere.

Maintaining a dogmatic adherence to FRES, whether you like it or not has cost lives and limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan because successive ‘grown ups’ have maintained that it was the future of the army, was central to our future capabilities blah blah blah, maintaining funding whilst letting our forces drive around in Snatch’s etc. To have admitted they got it wrong and respond to the IED/mine/EFP threat at the same speed as the US would have been challenging to their careers and after service directorships.

Shame on them

Years later, we have finally bowed to the inevitable and more or less canned FRES, forgoing all those mythical paradigm shifts in capability, for the common sense benefits of protected patrol vehicles, logistics vehicles and upgrades to what we already have in service.

Of course FRES has its origins in the various Boxer/Tracer studies from ages ago but it really took on shape as FRES after we swallowed hook line and sinker the utter piffle that was the US ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’ that postulated that information superiority would enable actual superiority to be achieved with less, lighter more agile forces. So rather than using our decades of experience in counter insurgency and conventional warfare we took all the manufacturers and neocons PowerPoint slides as gospel. Thus was born FRES that would be so technologically advanced it would provide a paradigm shift (there’s that word again, you see it a lot in FRES) in situational awareness that would mean that we could provide the power of a Chally in the weight and size of a rover. Right on cue we decided it would be transportable by C130 as did the US with their Strycker concept. Of course physics kind of got in the way and this was rapidly dropped in favour of A400 lift. The talk was of rapid intervention where we would fly in with our information superiority and get the job done in a few hours.

So FRES is based on effects not platforms and speed of deployment.

Let’s forget we simply couldn’t lift anything like a brigade with our huge fleet of C17’s and A400’s in anything less than ‘months’ so even a smallish force would have to go by road and sea thus defeating the rapid part and making the weight ceiling imposed survivability and capability compromises look even more ridiculous.

The MoD after years of dithering was then bounced into progress by a combination of Lord Drayson and the select committee who issued a stinging report, result, the trials of truth and the rushed decision to down select to three.

Add in the decision to have a vehicle supplier, systems integrator and systems of systems integrator all of whom would be competition (in an ever consolidating defence market) and thus severely compromise any commercial arrangements you would wish to enter in to. This was unfortunately necessary because we flogged off QinetiQ and decimated the MoD internal systems integration capability or technical boffins in favour of more project managers and PRINCE2 practitioners.

So to summarise, FRES is predicated on military fantasy, flies in the face of the military realities we have always faced and will continue to face, is saddled with a complex and self defeating procurement strategy and finally is managed by the DE&S which has the conveyor belt of military/civilian risk averse career progression in a target driven environment that ensures any people with a chance of actually making a difference are rotated out every couple of years or ground down by crushing procedural nonsense/management consultant approaches.

Is anyone surprised we have come to this sorry state of affairs when all we really needed was a 1 for 1 replacement of CVR(T), an upgrade to Warrior/Challenger and a range of protected logistics/patrol vehicles all with a common radio/ECM capability.

Oh, this is what we are getting now!
 
#19
Cuddles said:
I know two of the past SO1s on FRES and they were both highly competent, well qualified officers. however they were embedded in the DPA (as was) and so effectively neutralised. Neither chose to continue their careers in green.
Both gone on to double their salary working for defence contractors I assume? That seems to be the norm now with all the IPT's these days and I don't blame them either!
 
#20
As far as I can see, procurement of Boxer to replace Saxon and Stormer to replace CVR(T) might well have been the most sensible option.
 

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