The Commons public accounts committee has accused the Ministry of Defence of having squandered over £8bn of taxpayers’ money on delays to four major projects.
The MPs on the committee urged the MoD to keep its budget under control, saying procurement is currently trapped in a “cycle of failure”.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee, addressed the problems of the MoD, saying that it is wrong to blame it all on the last Government.
“The Labour government got things wrong , but it is naive to presume you can simply blame a bunch of politicians. There is a culture of optimism dominating the MoD: ‘Get something into the budget, it doesn’t matter if it will cost more over time as long as you we have got it in’. There is no final arbiter of decision-making, and there is also the issue that no individual is responsible from start to finish for a project. Nobody owns a project, so nobody is accountable. That is not politics, that is culture,” she explained.
The committee analyzed four cases, including the Sentinel project (the MoD decided to keep it service for 5 years, instead of 25) and the Typhoon project (over 200 of these aircraft were ordered).
The MoD is still recovering from a wave of indignation that hit it after it announced it was scrapping nine Nimrods aircrafts before they even went into the air.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox will address the problem today at 1pm, setting up measures to help the MoD manage its budget.
Matthew Knowles, spokesman for ADS, the UK’s aerospace, defence and security trade organisation, commented: “Any measure introduced by the MoD that will help improve the efficiency of the Ministry’s defence procurement system will be welcomed by the defence industry. The 300,000 people who work in the UK defence industry across the whole country are proud of the world-leading equipment that they provide to our armed forces as well as the economic contribution – over £35 billion per year – that they make to our national well-being.
“The industry is committed to continuing to provide for our troops at best value to the taxpayer in partnership with the MoD to maintain our national security.”