The House of Commons Defence Committee has found that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is lacking in the full implementation of its defence digital strategy.
The finding was revealed in the 36th Report of Session 2022–2023 released by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on 3 February.
The PAC report has claimed that the MoD has been ‘struggling’ for years to execute and complete several crucial programmes that were designed to replace more than 2,000 systems and applications for over 200,000 users associated with the sector.
The systems include outdated multi-domain military platforms, including ships and satellites, as well as conventional administrative and back-office information technology systems.
In 2019, the MoD’s central Defence Digital organisation estimated the requirement of approximately £11.7bn funds to upgrade/replace all such legacy systems in the next ten years.
However, the PAC’s report revealed that MoD has since not been able to complete this work.
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The report stated that MoD ‘must fundamentally change’ the way it operates and should have a specific delivery plan for effectively tracking the work progress.
House of Commons Defence Committee chairman Dame Meg Hillier said: “The scale and nature of the challenge of modern warfare are accelerating away from Ministry while it’s bogged down in critical projects that are years delayed and at risk of being obsolescent on delivery.
“Two of its major digital transformation projects have been written off as ‘unachievable’ by an oversight body.”
The report recommended that the MoD urgently needed to upskill its existing military and civilian staff while another pressing challenge cited in the report was the rapid deployment and exploitation of new technologies.
PAC lead member Mark Francois said: “The war in Ukraine brutally illustrates why we need advanced digital capabilities now, rather than many years from now. What more will it take for MoD to step up and acknowledge the procurement weaknesses which the PAC has, quite literally, been highlighting for decades now?
“The time for the usual MoD platitudes is over – we now need to see MoD radically reform its procedures, to provide equipment – including crucial digital systems – in a timely and cost-effective manner, before it’s too late.”