The Scottish Cons have referred to the Calmac ferry delays as a £250 million ‘banana skin.’
The UK Cons, in sharp contrast and of course in government, had no such term for a £5.5 BILLION MOD contract with NO date for completion.
‘Initiated in 2011: ‘Ajax represents the biggest single order for a UK armoured vehicle in more than 20 years. The Department has a £5.522 billion firm-priced contract with General Dynamics Land Systems UK (GDLS-UK) for the design, manufacture and initial in-service support of 589 vehicles’.
This NAO report is the latest in a series highly critical of MoD procurement. Here are some notable extracts from its Ajax report. Just imagine the media coverage in Scotland of comparable findings from an Audit Scotland report even on matters involving an order of magnitude lower cost!
1) ‘In 2014, the Department extended its expected in-service date by three years when it set an initial operating capability (IOC) of July 2020. The programme subsequently missed a revised target date of June 2021. ………….. These ISSUES REMAIN UNRESOLVED, and the Department has not yet set a new target date for IOC.’ (my emphasis)
2) ‘The Department DOES NOT KNOW WHEN Ajax will be operational and has already extended its expected in-service date by more than four years.’
3) ‘The Department will not set a new target date for IOC until it has agreed with GDLS-UK on how to resolve the noise and vibration issues. It has not yet changed the target for full operating capability (FOC) – April 2025 – even though IT HAS NO CONFIDENCE that this is achievable …’
4) ‘The Department and GDLS-UK DID NOT UNDERSTAND the scale of work or technical challenge, resulting in insufficient contingency in the programme schedule.
5) ‘‘The Department has NOT MANAGED THE PROGRAMME EFFECTIVELY.’
On Value for Money, the NAO concludes: ‘… the in-service date has already increased by four years and the Department DOES NOT KNOW WHEN it will be able to start using the vehicles. The programme continues to face significant problems and there is not yet agreement on the causes of critical safety issues or how these will be resolved.
‘There are other technical issues which still need to be addressed and wider problems in developing the enabling capabilities that will allow Ajax to achieve full capability. These problems mean that the Department HAS NOT DEMONSTRATED VALUE FOR MONEY on the £3.167 BILLION IT HAS SPENT SO FAR through this contract.’
‘The Department’s and GDLS-UK’s approach was FLAWED FROM THE START as they DID NOT FULLY UNDERSTAND the scale or complexity of the programme. A series of programme management failures have since led to missed programme milestones and unresolved safety and technical issues. The two parties remain in dispute over unresolved contractual, safety and technical issues.’
‘The Department faces a significant challenge and difficult decisions if it is to deliver the programme, with a risk that THE PROBLEMS MIGHT PROVE INSURMOUNTABLE.’
And finally the NAO states: ‘We have seen similar problems on other defence programmes, and the Department must ensure that it learns lessons to prevent a reoccurrence of failings across its £238 billion equipment programme.’
BBC coverage of this? Corporate media coverage of this? Opposition politicians outrage at this? Of course tax payers in Scotland have effectively zero agency over what the MoD procures and how it conducts its activities.’
But ‘ferries’ and the Scottish Government? Now that’s orders of magnitude so very much worse isn’t it?