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Improving Overall Performance of Britain's Defence Acquisition System

Background and Challenge

In December 2008, then U.K. Secretary of State for Defence Rt. Hon. John Hutton MP announced to the House of Commons that he had appointed British businessman and journalist Bernard Gray to lead a wide ranging and independent review of defence acquisition with the intention of making “recommendations to secure better value for money in the identification, commissioning, procurement and whole-life delivery of major acquisition programs. In particular, the review should recommend further ways of improving the delivery of projects within budget and on time."

Approach and Recommendations

L.E.K. joined the review team to provide high-quality, objective and independent input to the investigative and analytical work required to meet its brief. During a six-month period, L.E.K. collected and analyzed a wide range of data held by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). This ranged from high-level planning information to individual project performance data.

The team also solicited and considered a range of valuable inputs from a large number of senior level interviews and meetings. These included more than 200 discussions with the Department, the defence industry, other U.K. government departments and public-sector bodies, defence departments of other nations and other relevant commercial organizations.

In the course of diagnosing problems with the acquisition system, the review team made a number of recommendations that had the potential to improve the overall performance of the acquisition system.

The recommendations addressed a variety of problems that the review team perceived to be present in the current system including the general strategic and financial context in which defence acquisition operates, the front-end governance and planning of acquisition, as well as issues related to back-end delivery of individual projects.

Results

There was widespread acclaim for the report on publication in Autumn 2009:

"I would particularly like to thank the people who have worked tirelessly over the past eight months on this project. Iain Evans, Larry Verge and Steve Sunderland from L.E.K. Consulting have gone above and beyond the call of professional duty in the effort they have put into this project. Their work has been of the first quality." Bernard Gray, Author of the Review of Acquisition for the Secretary of State for Defence