Specialists highlight risks in outsourcing defence procurement


Specialists highlight risks in outsourcing defence procurement

Specialists in the Ministry of Defence are baffled but not surprised by the announcement today (Thursday) that it is proceeding with plans to let the private sector run Defence Equipment and Support.

Speaking on behalf of over 2,000 members in DE&S, Prospect National Secretary Steve Jary said: “It is truly astonishing that the Treasury would prefer to contract out control of the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support rather than give DE&S the flexibility to pay its highly-skilled staff properly and hire and retain people with the right skills and experience.

“MOD says a government owned, contractor operated (GOCO) arrangement will give it the flexibility to pay its staff market rates. But the department already has many flexibilities available to it, yet isn’t using them.

“It would be better if DE&S was allowed to nurture its own talent and pay staff appropriately, rather than being instructed to cut its staff by 30 per cent, which has been its main focus for the past two years.”

Jary said the fact that MOD wants to test the GOCO model first suggests it is by no means certain this is the way to go.

MOD Chief of Defence Material Bernard Gray told the House of Commons public accounts committee earlier this year that “…we are struggling to recruit under the civil service aegis the kind of people who we need to do this work…We cannot recruit or incentivise people in those kinds of specialist areas because the civil service structure is basically formulated around recruiting policy people.”

Jary said: “There is no doubt that our members would be better off under private ownership. But it is testament to their loyalty and commitment to defence that they oppose this privatisation: they oppose it because they believe it will cost more, it will deliver a less effective service to the military and, crucially, it will introduce additional risks by overcomplicating safety-critical decision-making.”