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What is there left to outsource?


A comment from Major-General Nicholas Pope, Director of Capability for the British Army

There are no bounds to our level of ambition to look at the practicability of entering into a long-term financial contractual relationship in these kinds of areas

He was talking about long term partnering arrangements like the £3b MASS contract with BAE for munitions supply for example. I am left wondering though, what is left to outsource or partner?

Vehicle maintenance; DSG was sold to Babcock and now all Army vehicles will be maintained under a 10 year £900m contract. Heavy Equipment Tractors, C Vehicles, Watchkeeper maintenance, all of the Royal Engineer training syllabus, recruiting administration, catering, military pilot training, the various availability contracts on complex equipment, telecommunications, sealift, and when you think about it, a load more.

The problem with long term contracts is that industry is not going to accept a great deal of contract risk, knows full well that the MoD is the worst kind of customer and they have to be based on a predictable demand and stability in the wider defence environment. As an example, we will be paying for the GR4 Synthetic Training PFI out to 2031, because the MoD thought at the time of contract award, that would be the Tornado OSD. The RAF Lyneham sewage treatment PFI was predicated on RAF Lyneham staying a flying station and not an Army training establishment, the agreement runs to 2023.

The MoD cannot predict anything beyond the 5 year cycle so unless the contracts have significant capacity flexibility someone, somewhere, is carrying the risk.

Three guesses who that will be!

All that said, the MoD seems to have an unquenchable thirst for outsourcing and long term partnerships so we can only assume that the numbers add up (stop laughing at the back) but seriously, what is left to outsource?


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8 Responses

  1. How about Major-Generals?

    Oh, wait, that’s already a done deal, isn’t it? One presumes from his remarks that he is busy outsourcing as much as he can to whatever private contractor has already promised him a cushy directorship when he retires.

  2. Makes you wonder what else is paid for already on the Tornado. What is the real remaining cost of extending service?

  3. In short? F***-all, relatively speaking, as the Luftwaffe are planning to re-life their’s, we just have to piggy-back on that programme for any airframe issues (Although a lot of the GR4 programme dealt with wing re-sparring etc). There’s still going to be plenty of spares around. (Interestingly BAe chose the Tornado to roll out it’s 3D printing bits programme) and the electronitrickery is well, just that… Easy to box-swap. In fact a lot of the system design architecture is shared with older Airbus aeroplanes… No wonder really, things doing the same job tend to look alike.

    …I wouldn’t be surprised if the venerable Tornado just doesn’t keep going… The F35 programme being what it is…

  4. Once upon a time the army, navy and RAF did everything (except major civil engineering and then over saw it themselves) and as you state we have run out of things to outsource , well almost. Back in the day the manpower levels in the services reflected this all in house policy and is harked back too as the ‘good old days’ but I distorted by this policy. Even allowing for technological advances increasing productivity the overall manpower employed if you included civilian contractors must still be very high. I cant seem to find any comparative studies but I imagine they illustrate that just because the bod is not in uniform the tax payer still pays for them to accomplish their job and so could be deemed part of the military establishment. A great deal of manpower behind the headline 102k army etc exists bolstering actual numbers which in time of general mobilisation no doubt would drafted and brought into the fold at least for self defence training purpose’s.

  5. “Once upon a time the army, navy and RAF did everything”

    And once upon a time before that they did not much more than provide warm bodies that were dressed, armed, fed, kept in stores (or not) and moved by contractors.

  6. Let’s face it the long term contract to build and deliver 2 big grey ships ensured that those two ships would be built and delivered. Sometimes long term contracts can serve defence in tying the greedy hands of HMT.

  7. Any significant mobilisation relies on the muscle of civilian capabilities. Where did the ships and planes come from in 1982, 1991 and 2003? Let alone the larger conflicts of previous eras. So it probably makes sense to scale and organise around that inevitable fact.

  8. Considering the number of Private Military contractors employed in Iraq is their any limit?. Why not out source Defence in its entirety, just hiring in what we need when we need it. Need an armoured division, I’m sure Blackwater would be happy to oblige. In fact why not out source the Government, surely that must be more efficient and cost effective than keeping it “in house”. George Osborne and the treasury would surely support such a move!!!!

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