UK & World News
MoD 'Wasting Funds On Unnecessary Equipment'
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is "wasting significant amounts of public money" buying equipment it does not need, according to a group of politicians.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has closely examined the management of the UK defence inventory by totting up what it orders and how much it spends on new kit and then comparing that to how much equipment is actually used.
MP Richard Bacon, who sits on the PAC, criticised the MoD.
"While it is perfectly understandable that the department would want to ensure troops on the front line have the equipment they need, it is simply not good enough for the MoD to blame the Treasury for not incentivising it to deal with the issue," he said.
"The MoD should set targets to reduce unnecessary ordering and regularly review its progress to see where else money could be saved.
"With stock returning from Afghanistan and soon from Germany, the problem is likely to get worse unless the MoD acts now to get rid of the £3.4bn stockpile of supplies it has identified as no longer being needed.
"It needs to act fast as some central depots for non-explosive items are already 90% full."
Between April 2009 and March 2011, the MoD purchased 38% more raw material and consumable inventory, such as clothing or ammunition, than it used, costing £1.5bn.
The MoD is also criticised for not getting rid of stock it no longer needs or does not use regularly.
The report reminds the Government that it had been told to sort out its act as long ago as 1991 but has failed to address the "root problems".
It suggests that the MoD should hire professionals who would be better able to identify the problems.
The MoD has accepted past failings and promised to improve the way it buys new equipment.
"I am determined to reverse decades of lax inventory management to ensure that MoD assets are managed much more efficiently in the future," responded Philip Dunne, the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology.
"Considerable progress has been made since 2010; the size and value of our holdings are now heading in the right direction and we plan to spend almost £2bn less on inventory over the next four years. Introducing comprehensive programmes and modern IT systems to enforce rigorous control are central to this improvement."
The committee does credit the MoD for acknowledging there is still a problem and suggests it is cautiously optimistic that things are getting better, but does warn that past promises of improvement have not materialised.