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19 August 2011 | Adam Leach
Late deliveries of supplies by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to military operations in Afghanistan have led troops to strip parts from operational planes, according to a report.
Findings by the Committee of Public Accounts (PAC), published today, showed that in the six months leading up to November 2010, 40 per cent of deliveries were late by 30 days or more.
Evidence given to PAC found that as a result of a lack of supplies for the Typhoon aircraft, parts were stripped off other planes to carry out maintenance. The report also found that a lack of data on the condition of stockpiled supplies meant some supplies had already deteriorated before use.
Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said: “The MoD has a duty to make sure that our troops serving on the front line get the supplies they need, when they need them and in the most cost-effective way. For 25 years, the department has promised this committee that it would resolve the long-standing problems associated with its supply chain: late deliveries, missed targets and inadequate cost information. Yet these problems persist.”
The committee accused the MoD of having an “unduly dismissive” attitude when questioned about whether savings could be made within the supply chain, without impacting on frontline services. It called on the department to get better data on supply chain routes, provide suppliers with stronger incentives to deliver on time, and benchmark costs against other armed forces such as the US and French militaries, as opposed to just private sector companies.
The PAC, which has been calling on the MoD to increase efficiency in its supply chain since 1986, said it “welcomed” the department’s plans to upgrade the IT systems in its supply chain through the Future Logistics Information Services project. However, it said since previous efforts had ‘come to nothing’ it would hold the department to its offer to report on progress in six months’ time and again in a year’s time.