MoD Procurement Privatised- Way forward, or way wrong?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by HectortheInspector, Apr 25, 2013.

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  1. Sneaked out today:
    Treasury OKs MoD's contractor-run procurement plan: report | Reuters

    "The Ministry of Defence's plan to explore letting a company manage military-equipment procurement has been approved by the UK Treasury, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

    HM Treasury was unavailable to comment on the matter.

    Bloomberg said Defence Secretary Philip Hammond would on Thursday outline the final stage of plans to make the Defence Equipment and Support agency into a government-owned and contractor-operated body, known as a "go-co". (

    As in many other European countries, Britain's defence ministry has been faced with procurement-cost overruns in response to budget pressures, and has been casting about for possible savings.

    Bloomberg said potential bidders to fill the role include U.S. contractors Jacobs Engineering Group Inc, Bechtel Group Inc, Fluor Corp, CH2M Hill Inc and KBR Inc, while British company Serco Group Plc may also be interested."

    Good idea in principle, perhaps, but there's some dodgy corporate reputations in the list of potential bidders .

    Edit: Lurking on this site at
  2. The way forward.

    Does this privatisation mean that we'll also see a huge reduction in staff officers who get involved in long term projects for short periods of time and mess things up?
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  3. Main problem with this is if we (the military) don't know what we want in the first place how's outsourcing it from the MoD going to help. Additionally there's not many companies that make what we need.

    Hang on I can see it now; cheap as chips but of no use to man nor beast (admittedly not a great deal of change there then)
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  4. Nonsense, you will buy the most expensive kit BAE wants to sell you.
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  5. But a lot of this expense is borne out due to staff officers getting involved for two year periods. They want to make their mark in that two years so change things needlessly.
  6. So instead of just getting raped (By BAE) the poor old MOD will now get gang raped by more corporate sharks?
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  7. Brilliant move!

    MOD gives contractors spec for new combat rifle to replace SA80

    contractor sticks post on ARRSE saying "what new rifle to replace SA80"

    contractor phones up manufacturer and says "I want 50k of these, off the shelf, soonest, whats your best price"

    Army gets their SLR's back

    Everyones happy, everyones a winner!

    Replicate with "best boots" thread, "best helicopter" etc.
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  8. Nope - they'll all be seconded.
  9. Let's be honest, can the cost and time over runs get any worse on any project in the past, ever?
    What has ever come in on time, on budget, and does what it says on the tin?
    Probably fcuk all since the days of Bomber Harris and there was no Mod meddling involved then or they probably (by a committee) would have chosen Zeppelins instead ..........................................................
    And a couple of years later, all the committee retired and gone on to work for .........................................................
    Zeppelin GMBh
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  10. Isn’t that how we ended up with Wildcat and having to cut the number of Apaches’?
  11. BrunoNoMedals

    BrunoNoMedals LE Reviewer

    The vast majority of them, according to the stats I've been presented with (and no I can't lay my hands on them right now - believe me, I'd love to).

    The shit ones that fail are usually the biggest and most expensive in the first place, and they get screwed up because more and more people just have to be involved with them. This is particularly true when you get all the way to the top and see procurement decisions made (or at least heavily influenced) by politicians with zero regard to sound procurement principles.

    Unfortunately it doesn't matter that you can count your big failing projects on one hand, because when they account for half your organisational budget it drags everyone else into the mire regardless.

    For the most part, DE&S performs well - often in spite of piss-poor (or non-existant) guidance from the people supposedly setting the specifications and the policies.

    However I'm an Abbey Wood-dwelling DE&S PM so this post clearly has no relevance.
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  12. If the definition of a successful project is limited to achievement of delivery in terms of time, cost and quality, then you are probably right. Not least because much of the cost of delivery (as opposed to the product itself) is sunk in the general morass of defence spending. Moreover, success is often measured against final budgets in terms of time, cost and quality, not baselined back to project startup.

    Could programs and projects be done faster, better cheaper though? In my experience as a service customer, Requirements Manager and subsequently industry bidder, the procurement process could be much slicker especially if junior project managers are empowered.
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  13. Staff officers not fully understanding what the end user requires, we had a problem with a RAF Staff Officer ordering the wrong brand of equipment, when challenged he knew nothing of the technical nature of the kit and thought the one he ordered was shinier and more whizbang. SME not being asked for recommendations, or the staff officer has

    a) been a complete muppet and sent to Abbey Wood where he can do no harm

    b) Staff Officer sent to Abbey Wood as a holding pattern for more senior post

    c) Staff Officer thinks he can make a difference

    d) Staff Officer sent because he hits the right quals for the job but is operationally out of date with current practice

    e) Staff Officer wants an MBE and does not give a **** about the end user

    f) Staff Officer that loves being schmoozed and boozed, and feeling important stringing a prospective company Bilko Style.

    g) Genuinely nice bloke that last a job at a brewery that failed in office party management, says the wrong things.

    There we in a nutshell what procurement is all about, then it goes downhill when civil service muppets step in.

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  14. Perhaps it's a cry for help, that the MOD know because it is 'in house' it is very easily influenced and by putting a corporate wall in the way it may somehow help?

    I think it's completely wrong, can you imagine the likes of bae dealing with CH2M and in my experience, these companies are no more capable.

    The problems I see with defence procurement isn't the procurement, it's the involvement of the end user and politicians. If they think somehow the end customer is now going to hand CH2 a specification on 1998 and then get a new APC in 2010 with no input as to including technological enhancements from DERA during production or another budget challenge from the paymaster they are mad, and then mod will be paying Ch2 extra and then the contractor extra for design changes.

    I think it's a bad idea, they need to keep it in house and perhaps with support from industry and using a consultant (I offer my services) review the reasons, blood guts and all as to why defence procurement appear to be shouldering the blame for something I would imagine is out of there control.

    The only thing I can imagine is my first point, do Defence Procurement teams have to salute their managers? I can tell you CH2 will still kiss the Sqd Ldr ass if he asks for a biday in the back of the P8 UK version.
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  15. All of those are about requirement setting and project definition. Very few staff officers are involved in a project beyond the requirement setting stage during the project execution phase. There are next-to-none with any influence on the commercial side of procurement. The role of the staff officer and (warrant officer) is very limited.

    It is too easy to blame the civil servants and call them muppets. There are some very good project managers at Abbey Wood, who would make excellent PMs in industry if only they had the ball to jump from the cushy public sector environment. There is also, of course, some complete dross there, who would never have been hired by industry and certainly wouldn't last in it.

    Like most public sector organisations, there are layers of committees, reviews, compliance checks and the like with very few actually taking any executive decisions. I never met a procurement civil servant who had any idea of the cost of actually managing his project(s).
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