NAO prepares for DTR investigation

NAO prepares for DTR investigation
Friday, January 02, 2009
Like a shark circling its wounded prey in the water, the National Audit Office (NAO) is patiently waiting to for the controversial Defence Training Review (DTR) to sign a formal contract before it begins an investigation into the programme.

The training programme is to streamline and privatise the majority of defence training into a single location in St Athan, Wales. It is being led by the Metrix consortium which is headed by Qinetiq.

In recent months, critics of the DTR have argued that is on the brink of collapse. Costs have risen by £1bn to £12bn. The main financing plan which centred on the sale of vacant MoD land collapsed under the current economic crises as well. Then last month, Land Securities, one of the key partners in the consortium dropped out of the project altogether due to "strategic differences."

Conservative MP Mark Pritchard has been a staunch opponent of the DTR. He recently lobbied the NAO to begin a full investigation into the programme and whether or not it is providing value for money. He also indicated to Jane's Weekly that there were national security concerns as well in regards to the project.

Despite the fact that the programme has already spent over £34m in taxpayers money, the head of the20NAO Tim Burr said that no investigation can begin until a formal contract is signed. This may not come for at least another year due to delays to the programme. Burr's language to Pritchard in a written response however indicates that the NAO has the DTR in its sites and is preparing to act once a contract is signed.

He told Pritchard the NAO could "press ahead" only when a contract was signed: "We will continue to monitor the [defence] department's progress to see whether and when the time might be right to start a full value-for-money investigation."

Pritchard has opposed the DTR from the outset due to what he believes are serious questions over cost, financing and the maintaining of the military ethos.

"This is a project that is on life support. Ministers should come clean and admit they got it wrong. In a time of war, defence training should not be outsourced to profit-making companies, but retained within the public sector which provides a military ethos," he said in a statement.

No comments: