Modern warfare ‘raping away’ from Defense Ministry due to delays in tech upgrades: MPs

Modern warfare is “rapidly moving away” from the Ministry of Defense (MoD) due to its inability to review IT and technological systems, MPs have said.

A report by the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee found that the department had been “struggling for years” to deliver updates, some of them necessary for the use of UK warships and satellites.

Dame Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, said the delays meant some projects were in danger “of becoming stale on delivery.”

Two vital systems have been deemed “unreachable” by the oversight body, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, the lawmakers said.

PAC is calling for a fundamental change in the way the Defense Ministry manages technology upgrades, calling delivery failures “worrying.”

Labor MP Dame Meg said: “The Ministry of Defense as it currently operates is frankly not up to the task it faces.

“The scale and nature of the modern warfare challenge is rapidly moving away from the Ministry, while it is bogged down on critical projects that are years behind schedule and risk being obsolete by the time of delivery.

“Two of its major digital transformation projects have been dismissed as ‘unachievable’ by the oversight body.

“There is not a world where that is an acceptable situation at the heart of our national defense.”

The Defense Ministry said it has made “significant progress” in the delivery of IT projects.

Former Conservative defense minister Mark Francois and senior member of the PAC said: “The war in Ukraine brutally illustrates why we need advanced digital capabilities now, rather than many years from now.

“What else is needed for the MoD to step up and acknowledge the procurement weaknesses that the PAC has literally been highlighting for decades?

“The time for the usual platitudes of the Ministry of Defense is over; we now need the MoD to radically reform its procedures to provide equipment, including crucial digital systems, in a timely and cost-effective manner, before it is too late.”

In PAC’s The Defense Digital Strategy report published on Friday, the committee said a “significant culture shift” was needed at the MoD to address the fact that its “processes are set up to procure conventional military equipment rather than software.” “.

The committee said there were more than 2,000 systems and applications for 200,000 users that the Defense Ministry had struggled to replace.

They range from back-office and administrative IT to military platforms such as ships and satellites, largely outdated legacy systems, according to the 23-page document.

The parliamentarians said the rapid deployment of new technology was “now at the very heart of the kingdom’s defense, with the urgency of this challenge demonstrated by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.”

But they said the Projects and Infrastructure Authority, of defense IT projects large and critical enough to report their performance, found three to have significant problems and two, New Style IT Base and MODNet Evolve, were assessed as “unachievable.” “.

The committee said the department faces a “considerable challenge” in hiring the digital specialist on which its strategy is based.

Faced with the possibility that the Ministry of Defense will find it difficult to compete in the market for wages and waiting times of more than 200 days on average for security background checks on new recruits, lawmakers said the department’s goal doubling its recent hire of 150 specialists would be “difficult to do.”

The report called for the Defense Ministry to make a “down payment” on a new way of operating in its digital action plan, which is expected in April 2023.

They said urgency and a “realistic and budgeted schedule” to deliver the plan must be provided along with it.

A Ministry of Defense spokesperson said: “The Defense Digital enhancement program is a priority for the department, which is why we are investing over £4bn a year.

“We have made significant progress in delivering our IT projects and, following the work of the past few months, only one of the top six digital programs is rated in the red.

“Maximizing digital data and capabilities is critical to successful military operations, and the committee recognizes that our strategy has the right priorities to achieve this.”

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