Modernising Defence Programme: Review of consultation responses

Following the open consultation on Modernising Defence Programme (MDP), MOD has now released a brief review of the responses it has received. MOD received  over 100 responses from  stakeholders, ranging from members of the general public, Defence personnel (civilian and military), industry, academia, think tanks, Parliamentarians, Local Authorities, trade unions and charities.

The responses are primarily focused on the four workstreams:

Workstream 1 – MOD Operating Model: establishing a refreshed and clearer Operating Model for Defence, to enable better and faster decision-making and more efficient and effective delivery of Defence outputs.

Workstream 2 – Efficiency and business modernisation: providing confidence in the MOD’s ability to realise existing efficiency targets, and a set of options for future efficiency and business modernisation investments.

Workstream 3 – Commercial and industrial approach: assessing how MOD can improve on commercial capability and strategic supplier management.

Workstream 4 – Defence policy, outputs and military capability: analysing the global security context and its implications for Defence policy, the roles and tasks that we prioritise, and the opportunities or imperatives for modernising our workforce, military capabilities and force generation processes.

MOD has outlined some key areas which were discussed in a large amount of responses. Some of these align with the response techUK made on behalf of its members. (The techUK response can be found at the bottom of this article). These include:

Change and Efficiency (workstreams 1 and 2)

A large number of responses made recommendations for realising greater efficiency in Defence. Many of these concerned the everyday business processes and practices used in Defence including: more intelligent use of IT to support remote working; better use of project management, procurement and budget management at the smaller scales of departmental business; and improvement of performance recruitment and management.

Many responses argued that greater efficiency could be achieved by making better use of the workforce’s skills: a greater focus on the value of expertise, with less reliance on generalists, a more targeted and considered use of contractors, and greater care taken to place people in roles that allow the fullest possible use of their expertise and qualifications. 

Industry and prosperity (workstream 3)

A large number warned against the MOD procurement system becoming overly reliant on a small number of suppliers.  Some suggested that Defence should pursue more collaborative, long-term relationships with a broader range of suppliers.  This would be helped by better engagement with industry, increased visibility of MOD’s forward programme of work, more opportunity for sub-contracting to SMEs, and better scrutiny of suppliers’ capabilities to ensure they remain both competitive and fit for purpose. 

Some proposed that Defence should ensure that it has the right mix of skills by investing more in commercial awareness and specialisms such as negotiation and through-life costing.  A two-way secondment programme between Defence and industry would help on this front, and should contribute to better development and retention of highly skilled staff, and less reliance on external support.

There was consensus amongst respondents that supply chain management and procurement processes can be simplified and improved, in part through more intelligent use of data, digital transformation, and automation.  

A significant number of responses highlighted the importance of Defence for UK prosperity.

Development of new capabilities

The capability areas most commonly cited as requiring investment were: ballistic missile defence; precision strike; information, surveillance and reconnaissance; cyber; information operations; and CBRN.  Many respondents urged a greater dedication of resources to R&D and innovation in order to develop these new capabilities more quickly.

MOD continues to work on its response to the MDP consultation and aims to publish its findings later the Autumn. techUK is pleased to see that many of the responses have echoed the suggestions given in our own submission on behalf of members, and looks forward to working with MOD to implement the MDP’s findings once published.

techUK’s Head of Defence Programme Fred Sugden said:

“techUK looks forward to the publication of the Modernising Defence Programme’s findings in the Autumn, and our members stand ready to assist the MOD with the implementation of the MDP. Technology plays a critical role in helping the MOD modernise its business processes and drive efficiencies across Defence, and also underpins the world-class capabilities used by our Armed Forces. It is good to see that the responses have highlighted increased visibility of MOD’s forward programme of work and more opportunities for sub-contracting to SMEs, and we are particularly pleased to see that our suggestion of a two-way secondment programme between Defence and industry to ensure Defence has the right mix of skills and expertise has been referenced”

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