Why does MoD have over 6000 IT procurement staff and its own version of Microsoft Windows?

The build up to the government’s comprehensive spending review has been a good reason to do some digging to find out some of the details about IT in different government departments.


Yesterday I spoke to two people with experience working with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the past. I was staggered when one of them told me there is 6000 IT procurement staff at the MoD. Then the other told me it has more like 7000, but he described them as IT management workers. He said they are all involved in procurement because the MoD outsources everything.


The point my first contact was making was that government departments usually have too many people involved in IT projects.


The MoD does have complex IT requirements but it sometimes makes it even more complex unnecessarily. Apparently it has its own version of Microsoft Windows and pays for the pleasure. 


According to one of my sources when it comes to IT there are some small areas that require high security but “Implementation is over complex to the actual need.”

Here are some examples of when ICT procurement of management contributed to getting it wrong at the MoD.


Source: Cost overruns, delays and terminations: 105 outsourced public sector ICT projects by the European Services Strategy Unit.


1 – £32.1m – Trawlerman project signed with Data Sciences. This was a new computer system for Defence Intelligence Staff. It was never used and £40.7m written off. It was replaced in 1997 with off-the-shelf system.


2 – £10.2m – Common User Data System RAF project signed with GEC. Started 1989 but terminated 1997 after system proved unusable. Costs rose to £21m.


3 – £18.2m – Royal Navy Pay Replacement System 2.  It was abandoned in 1996 with £8.7m loss.


4 – £3.04bn – Defence Information Infrastructure for new IT at defence locations around the world (March 2005), signed with Atlas consortium led by EDS. Cost now estimated to be £5bn and ‘major problems’ at first site near Bristol. 16,000 terminals installed by October 2007 but missed target of 70,000 by mid 2007.


5 – £2.77bn – Skynet 5, Satellite Communications Services cost increase to £3,660 by spring 2007 (+32%).


6 – £237m – Joint Personnel Administration, cost increase to £257m (+8%) as a result of delay in roll out to Navy and Army


7 – £2.4bn – Bowman Combat Infrastructure Platform to replace the Clansman radio network, signed with General Dynamics. Project ‘recast’ to include an additional £121m, £51m write-off, £24m training cost plus £204m over 25 years. Projects delays.


8 – £2.57bn – Renegotiated submarine contract in 2003 increasing cost by £1bn – delays and failure of computer aided design. Contract with BAE Systems.