Skip to the content

MPs say MoD has to raise its game on digital strategy


Mark Say Managing Editor

Get UKAuthority News


Ministry of Defence headquarters
Ministry of Defence headquarters
Image source: Andysmith248, CC BY-SA 4.0

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has to fundamentally change the way it operates to push through the digital change it wants to achieve.

PAC has published a report on the issue, highlighting the absence of any delivery plan at MoD to implement its digital strategy.

The strategy was published in the summer of 2021 and includes a plan for a Digital Backbone ecosystem as a prime element, a Digital Foundry software and data analytics centre, and a skilled community of digital specialists.

According to the PAC report, MoD has been struggling for years to deliver the major programmes necessary to replace over 2,000 systems and applications for 200,000 users, ranging from back office IT to military and much of which runs on outdated legacy system.

Of the defence projects large and critical enough for their performance to be reported publicly by the Infrastructure Projects Authority, three had significant issues and two – the New Style IT Base and MoDNet Evolve – were assessed as unachievable.

Skills gaps

One of the key issues is to fill critical gaps in digital personnel and upskill currently military and civilian staff. This is a challenge as the ministry has limits on the pay it can offer, and finds the location of some of its posts and the extended time needed for security vetting of new entrants can create problems.

Another problem has been that the strategy was initially not fully funded. Although MoD has worked on ways to reprioritise its budget and make the strategy affordable, this is being undermined by rising inflation.

The committee says MoD must make a “down payment” on a new way of operating in its digital action plan, which is expected to be made public in April. This should involve a realistic and costed programme for addressing the issues.

Chair Meg Hillier MP said: “The MoD as it currently operates is frankly not up to the task it faces. The scale and nature of the challenge of modern warfare is accelerating away from the 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 the oversight body. There is no world in which that is an acceptable situation at the heart of our national defence.”

The PAC publication comes after an earlier report from the National Audit Office highlighted the issue and identified a number of challenges for the ministry.


Register For Alerts

Keep informed - Get the latest news about the use of technology, digital & data for the public good in your inbox from UKAuthority.