NAO report points to slow roll out of Infrastructure Management System as a source of problems
Failure to implement an IT system to schedule has undermined the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) efforts to make better use of its buildings estate, the National Audit Office (NAO) has said in a new report.
Its investigation of the MoD’s programme to upgrade its estate, which is an important element of the UK defence capability, has found it faces costs of at least £8.5 billion over the next 30 years. The NAO has warned that if the ministry does not take further action to address a shortfall in funding there will be continued risks to military capability.
A section of the report, titled Delivering the defence estate, focuses on the role of the Infrastructure Management System (IMS) in supporting the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). It is being implemented to replace more than 100 legacy systems and improve the DIO’s use of data, but the implementation originally planned for April 2014 is not now expected to take place before April 2017.
A “re-baselining” of the programme in 2014 added £10 million to the implementation cost of the IMS, taking it to £95 million over 10 years, and a reduction of its net present value from £63.2 million to just £3.8 million. Since then, the expected financial benefits have been revised upwards to £175 million, but the MoD has not updated its calculation of net present value.
The delays have been attributed largely to poor management in the early years of implementation, when the ministry failed to fully appreciate the scope and volume of data that had to be transferred from legacy systems. Also, a lack of controls led to users trying to customise software and making the IMS more complex.
Since 2015 there has been an improvement in the implementation, with the phases since then coming in on time and budget; but the earlier delays have affected the performance of the MoD’s partner in the overall programme, and made it more difficult to hold the company to account.
The NAO expects significant problems to continue, saying the ministry’s Footprint Strategy to build housing and dispose of a quarter of its estate by 2040 is based on assumptions and estimates that will need time to evolve.
“Implementing this strategy will be extremely challenging as many of estate disposals, re-provisioning of essential facilities on site to be disposed of and personnel moves are interdependent,” the NAO says.
Head of the NAO Amyas Morse said the MoD has started to improve its management of the defence estate, but that: “The department has not yet set out how it will fully address the significant challenges it faces sustaining the whole of the estate and resultant risks to military capability.”
Image: Barker Barracks, Paderborn, Germany, by Dominic King, MoD, Open Government Licence v1.0