New Procurement Minister appointed to MOD
As expected, Gavin Williamson, only appointed as Secretary of State for Defence in November last year, remained in post as the Prime Minister this week stutteringly reshuffled her Cabinet. There was however a significant change among Mr Williamson’s team of junior ministers, as Harriett Baldwin MP was promoted from her Defence Procurement portfolio to a new, more senior role in the Foreign Office. Replacing her as Minister for Defence Procurement is Guto Bebb. Mr Bebb has been the MP for Aberconwy in North Wales since the 2010 General Election. Prior to his appointment to MOD, he served as junior minister at the Wales Office and as a Government Whip. Commenting on his appointment, Mr Bebb said that “2017 was a proud year for defence equipment… I feel privileged to take on the role and I am keen to get going to deliver our famous Armed Forces the cutting edge kit they need, making 2018 an even better year for defence procurement.”
Mr Bebb arrives at MOD at a crucial time, as the department wrestles with the challenge of delivering on the equipment and capability ambitions set out in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review at a time when budget constraints are putting real pressure on departmental activity. Within the context of this, Mr Bebb will be responsible for delivering the MOD’s refreshed industrial policy, launched in December, which aimed to put a greater emphasis on recognising the value of investing the defence equipment budget in UK technology, innovation and skills. NDI looks forward to a close and positive relationship with Mr Bebb as we help the department make these ambitions work throughout the UK defence supply chain.
Defence Infrastructure Organisation releases updated Commercial Strategy
On Wednesday, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) released an updated commercial strategy, which features a specific focus on increasing supplier numbers, offering greater opportunities to SMEs to provide services direct. Through its suppliers, the DIO provides infrastructure services to the MOD and each branch of the Armed Forces. With an annual spend of c.£3bn on construction and infrastructure services, this represents a significant opportunity for EEF and NDI businesses of all sizes. The strategy sets out a plan for DIO to become easier to do business with and lays out MOD’s long-term challenges and needs to the market, with a view to better supporting existing and potential suppliers to allow them to meet these needs. It highlights how DIO intends to create and sustain a competitive market to deliver goods and services that meet its performance and affordability needs, now and in the future. The strategy also outlines the range of services by value that DIO requires, and the likely nature of the contracts by service. The commercial principles on which contracts will be awarded have been developed with a view to improving services and delivering increased and measurable value to MOD and the taxpayer.
Babcock to lead joint bid for MOD’s Type 31e frigate programme
Babcock International this week confirmed it is to lead a joint bid for the £1.25bn Type 31e Frigate competition. Alongside Thales UK, BMT, Harland & Wolff and Ferguson Marine the bid team will seek to offer the Royal Navy a capable, cost-effective and flexible ship ready for the export market. Babcock will act as the overall programme lead, while Thales will have overall responsibility for the development of the Mission System solution. The bid was announced as Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, visted Babcock’s shipyard in Appledore, Devon. MOD has received over 20 expressions of interest from industry regarding the Type 21e. An investment decision is expected to be made by the end of this year.
Asked whether the Government has approved the sale of HMS Ocean to Brazil (as widely speculated in the media last week), new Defence Procurement minister, Guto Bebb, replied that discussions with the Government of Brazil about the sale of the ship are ongoing, but no decisions have been made.
Asked whether MOD is considering both competition and a sole source option for the Prime Contract in the assessment phase for the procurement of the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle, the department could only reply that no decisions have been taken on the acquisition strategy for MIV.
Asked what (a) the original planned and the (b) revised date for the delivery of warrior capability sustainment programme is, MOD replied that the expected in-service date at approval was November 2018. The forecast in-service date as reported in the Defence Equipment Plan 2016 was July 2020. It was noted that the Defence Equipment Plan 2017 is due to be published shortly.