On the 8th May Mick Mansell, BAESs retired Director of Future Systems, returned to Kingston to tell the Association about the new UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) acquisition process. Smart Procurement (SP) emerged from the UK Governments 1999 Strategic Defence Review when the problem of military procurement was studied by a joint MoD-Industry-Consultant team. Changes in the process were driven by cost and time over-runs experienced on recent major defence procurement projects - Nimrod, for example. Other drivers were: that defence equipment is becoming more complex and diverse so requires a flexible and short acquisition procedure; threats are less predictable than in the past so new technology must be deployed more quickly; and the consolidation of the UK and European defence industries.

The aims of SP were: to deliver projects within the time and costs approved when the major investment decision was made; to establish an MoD procurement process where military capability is acquired progressively at low risk and with optimisation trade-offs between military effectiveness, time and whole life costs; and to reduce the time taken to introduce new technologies into the front line to secure military advantage and industrial competitiveness.

Smart Procurement


Key features of SP are: a whole life approach by a single Integrated Project Team (IPT); clear definition of customers; trade-offs between performance, whole costs and time to be identified, evaluated and implemented; relationships with industry to be better and more open through partnering and common goal identification; new procurement approaches including incremental acquisition; shorter project approval and procurement processes; and higher investment during early project phases to reduce risk before binding performance, cost and time parameters are set.

Within the MoD the central relationship is between the customer and the supplier. The central customer is responsible for: defining the basic future capability requirement; for making the balance of investment decisions in and across capabilities; for obtaining project approval; for accepting the equipment into service; for developing specific equipment concepts to meet capability gaps; and for setting the IPTs budget for the procurement phase of the project. As the equipment enters service the second customer, the appropriate Commander in Chief, takes over the customer lead and agrees with the IPT leader the level of support required.

The above is a summary of the core of Micks talk which went into much greater detail of the component activities in the procurement process. If you would like to learn more please contact the Editor to whom Mick has loaned a DVD of his Powerpoint presentation which Members may borrow.