Government auditors finger software for MoD major project delays

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has largely blamed problems with software development for 139 months of delays accumulated in a single year across some of its major projects.


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has largely blamed problems with software development for 139 months of delays accumulated in a single year across some of its major projects.

In the National Audit Office’s annual Major Projects Report, it said that the in-year slippage, which occurred across 13 projects that could be measured, also resulted in increased costs of £572 million for the past year.

This figure does not include projects that could not be measured for time performance. The increased cost when accounting for all projects, which includes some that aren’t measured for time performance, but saw some efficiencies, was £468 million for the past year.

The total forecast delay to the projects since the main investment decisions were taken is now 468 months, which equates to a 29 per cent increase in the average forecast time to complete projects when compared to the estimate made when the Department approved the projects.

The report reads: “The in-year slippage has primarily been caused by technical challenges faced by industry in developing the equipment. The causes of the delays, such as software development, are reoccurring problems on which we have reported regularly.

“The continuing incidence of such problems indicates the Department has more to do to set realistic timescales.”

For example, the MoD’s Falcon Communications Project and Falcon Urgent Operational Requirement Project, which involves updating the armed force’s communications system, have been delayed by 30 months because of issues with the cryptographic technology, which protects the security of the information during transmission.

The delay means that the armed forces in Afghanistan will “continue to use an existing, less efficient communications system there.”
Another example includes delays to the Department’s plans to fit a new cockpit in all of its Chinook helicopters to improve their capability and secure training. However, the report states that there have been “problems with developing the new software” for the upgrade, which has resulted in a nine month slippage.

Furthermore, software development problems have also impacted the MoD’s Typhoon guided bombs project and its Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile project, which together have added 41 months’ worth of in-year delays.

“The Ministry of Defence faces a difficult task striking a balance between delivering the capabilities it wants and those it can afford. There will always be factors over which the Department has limited control, but it must do more to learn from previous projects,” said Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office.

“The continuing problems highlighted in my report show that, if it is to make the most of the money available, the Department has more to do to address its longstanding issues on project performance.”

Computerworld UK recently revealed that the MoD spent £3.6 billion on IT and telecommunications for use across the department between 2009 and 2011, which approximately accounts for between 9 and 12 percent of overall government IT spend.

"Recommended For You"

MoD faces increased costs for delayed online recruitment system Government publishes per transaction costs of main public services