MoD in cuckoo-land over project funds

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Blogg, Jan 30, 2008.

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  1. Yes, the cracks are getting wider;jsessionid=NDV2OEI4H25IRQFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2008/01/30/ndefence130.xml

    The Ministry of Defence was "living in cloud-cuckoo-land" in believing it could achieve all its major procurement projects, the head of the Commons' defence committee has said.

    In a damning hearing on the MoD's equipment programme, the military was forced to concede it "did not know" whether cash would be available for major projects.

    Defence analysts believe the MoD is facing a £3 billion shortfall out of £19 billion in funding for hardware vital to ensuring Britain's global position at the "top table".

    The Chief of Defence Material admitted to MPs that this year's planning round for the procurement budget was the toughest since the 1970s.

    Gen Kevin O'Donoghue was the first official to publicly suggest that one of the military's major defence projects faced the axe.

    Among the projects in disarray is the "stand-off" over the £4 billion aircraft carrier programme announced with great fanfare by the Government last year.

    The committee heard that the defence cash flow was "as serious as it has ever been".

    Gen O'Donoghue said the defence industry wanted to see "less projects properly funded, rather than more projects not properly funded".

    Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said it confirmed "that since the Comprehensive Spending Review some or all of our major defence projects, so therefore our National Security, could be at risk as a result of Gordon Brown's serial underfunding of the Armed Forces".
  2. No Shit Sherlock.
  3. My bold.

    It has been mentioned a number of times on arrse, that Gordon Brown has never had any intention of those carriers being built.

    This is just another step along the road to the cancellation of the project after the next election.

    The cancellation of the carriers is a given, as it always has been. They were simply a tool to divert the attention of the admiralty (and to a lesser extent, the public) while the RN fleet was sold off.

  4. Shhhhh! Nobody is supposed to know that.........

    Plans to delay a £3.8billion contract for two aircraft carriers were axed at the last minute because they jeopardised 400 jobs in Gordon Brown's constituency.

    Defence Secretary Des Browne considered shelving the order for the 65,000-tonne warships to ease pressure on the MoD budget.

    But a leaked email revealed he dropped the idea after realising it would mean laying off apprentices at a shipbuilders in the Prime Minister's back yard.

    The news came as a leaked Whitehall report said underfunding and cuts had left the Navy unable to fight a major war.

    In July, Mr Browne signed the contract to build the carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, scheduled to enter service in 2014 and 2016.

    Construction of the Navy's largest ever vessels would support 10,000 jobs at four British shipyards, including Rosyth in the PM's constituency.

    But the email from an MoD official on Thursday said funding them was "decimating all other programmes" because of the "poor settlement" from October's spending review.

    It said: "Yesterday, SoS [ Secretary of State] was on the verge of postponing the order and only balked at the last minute due to the impact on 400 jobs in the PM's constituency at Rosyth."

    But assuming for the moment that they do get built, slight problemo:

    Navy’s new carriers to deploy old aircraft

    The most powerful ships ever to sail in the Royal Navy will be forced to fly ageing Harrier jets because the replacement F35 Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) will not be ready in time.

    The first of two new aircraft carriers is due to enter service in 2014 and the government had planned to operate Britain’s next generation combat plane, the JSF, from the ships. However, it emerged on Tuesday that the Navy will instead initially have to operate the latest version of the Harrier jump jet, an aircraft first designed several decades ago.

    Giving evidence to the Commons’ defence select committee, David Gould, the MoD chief operating officer for equipment and support, said: “We actually do plan to use the [Harrier] GR9 on the first of the carriers. The idea that we will have a carrier’s worth of fully ... equipped JSFs in 2014 is not going to happen.”

    The $276bn (£140bn) JSF programme is the most expensive armaments programme ever and Britain is the biggest partner to the US.

    The UK had originally intended to acquire 150 JSFs but at Tuesday’s hearing General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, the chief of defence material, admitted that the eventual number would depend on the final price – which has yet to be decided.

    Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis, said: “They are admitting there is no cost control from this end of the pond. There is a slight degree of unreality here. JSF costs are going up something like 4 per cent a year. By the time we start laying out money for production, the aircraft will be 30 per cent more expensive than we first budgeted.”

    General O’Donoghue also acknowledged that there were likely to be cutbacks or delays to major equipment procurement programmes. “I suspect we will have to [delay or cut some],” he said.

    Asked when spending was last so tight, he said: “In the late 1970s, we had some challenging times then.”

    Separately, Mr Gould identified the Nimrod coastal surveillance aircraft programme as the one where the department is seeing the greatest “cost growth”.

    The reasons for the continuing cost overruns were due to a problem with pitch on the aircraft, only discovered during the flight trials.

    It emerged, however, that a similar problem was first identified on an earlier version of aircraft.

    Responding to a question on why the government had not yet signed a manufacturing contract with the industry alliance building the two aircraft carriers, Mr Gould said he would be disappointed if a contract had not been signed before the end of March. “The fact that we are going through a review of the [defence procurement] programme of the nature we talked about early on ... it is as serious as you have known it in recent years, yes ... that is not an atmosphere when it is easy to take decisions on big commitments,” he said.
  5. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    This is what happens when you don't have experienced Project and Programme Managers making the decisions at high level.
    Politians (and others at senior levels in business) seem to think anyone can efficiently manage the change process and the unknowns of a new project. In my experience senior military people are the worst I have ever seen.
    Still if you want to pay me my daily rate I don't care how many Change Requests you want to submit or how many Impact Assessments you want me to make. :D
  6. I thought the contract for the hulls to be laid had gone to a French company.

    I suppose some Birish companies will be needed to put in the plumbing, but even that will no doubt be done by some Polish blokes.

    It will be nice to see Britania ruleing the waves in a half built French carrier with no planes on it. Makes you proud to be British don't it?
  7. I'm, er, outraged.

    Broon announced at PMQs that the government was committing £5bn "over the next period of time" to sort out the desperate state of the hovels that soldiers and their families are invited to live in.

    Does that include the shortfall? And what is the "next period of time"? Where will the dosh be spent? £5bn is quite a lot. You could buy a Nimrod for that, I'm sure.

    I suspect that Broon may be a waste of skin.
  8. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    I suspect you may be right.

    "next period of time" is not a recognised Project Management term. I would interpret that it as "fcuk knows when, I have not done the maths yet, but probably so long a time as to appear like never"
  9. As I understand it, the plot is to build the pointy and blunt ends on the Clyde and Tyne, and the middle bit in Barrow. The bits then get glued together at Rosyth... something to do with the availability of certain key equipment at the various yards....

    You couldn't make this stuff up really!
  10. You can watch the recording of the Committee meeting here:

    Defence Equipment

    Meeting started on Tuesday 29 January at 10.30am
    ended at 12.59pm

    Defence Equipment

    General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue KCB, CBE, Chief of Defence Materiel, David Gould CB, Chief Operating Officer, Defence Equipment & Support, and Lieutenant General Dick Applegate OBE, Chief of Materiel (Land), Ministry of Defence
  11. It's an obvious point to make, Alsacien, but the booger said this at the Despatch Box in answer to a Parliamentary question. Given the disastrous state of defence procurement (imho) you'd think he would be able to come up with a better answer than that. In the same week as a damning Defence Select Cttee Report as well.

    He should be foreced to live in Carterton for a week and drink his drams in The Osprey pub, closed now and not demolished because it is full of asbestos.
  12. If only you could take the politics out of procurement.

    There are some superb project and programme managers within the MoD, some military and some civilian. Not many are encouraged to get civilian recognised qualifications because it makes them more employable outside (for many years PRINCE2 was not a funded course). They project manage despite the hurdles that would not be experienced out in the real world and they use many of the same risk management and PM strategies in common usage.

    One of biggest hurdles to speedy and correct decision making is the involvement of Misisters at such low levels of endorsement. Political meddling has been responsible for some of the worse choices in military history (SA80, Cbt Body Armr, Challenger, most ammunition). How many of the auditors in the NAO and MPs on select comittees have skills or experience that compare.

    In case of the Aircaft Carriers, it appears that the goverment are quite prepared to starve the project of funds and take risks now, secure in the knowledge that the crunch will come when they are safely in opposition.
  13. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    2 clueless generals and David "EVA" Gould:

    Show value for money invested, get approval for more money and repeat - until the point you realise that you have spent all your money and only have a half a ship......
    Someone tell me how these clowns are qualified to operate in a Project Steering capacity?
  14. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Considering a Prince2 certification takes a week of training from zero knowledge and only costs less than a grand - it does not say much for competence or otherwise of those "managing" projects or those controlling them :roll:

    You appoint a PM based on his track record, not the fact he has Prince2, APM, PMI/PMBOK etc.
    Start with little projects and work your way up - not difficult is it :roll:

    Can be done well even with UK Gov involved - look at the GCHQ relocation project into their new building - brilliantly done.
  15. You mean there are actually people out there in the Real World who think the carrier project is ever actually going to happen? Well, apart from the hopelessly optimistic Admiral who signed off on the disposal of a quarter of our major surface combatants as the "price" of getting the carrier project approved.

    It's ok, I'm fake-laughing, only the tears are real.