Tuesday, 10 August 2021
Defence Equipment, Defence Procurement
Hardly a month goes by without a warning, a prediction or a story about a Defence project that is over budget, running late or failing to deliver. Today, again, shipbuilding is in the news. The poster child for failed Defence projects used to be the Super Seasprite helicopter; it was overtaken by the Joint Strike Fighter, and that has been overshadowed now by the Future Submarine project. Future Submarine is so big it is ensuring that its shipbuilding mates, the future frigates and the OPVs, are obscured in its shadows.
These projects have substantial project teams in the Defence organisation. It's overseen by a First Assistant Secretary National Naval Shipbuilding Office; a General Manager Submarines, a First Assistant Secretary Ships and a Deputy Secretary National Naval Shipbuilding, on top of which there's a Submarine Advisory Committee and there's a Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board, which has morphed into a Naval Shipbuilding Expert Advisory Panel, and we've even got a subcommittee of the National Security Committee of Cabinet now overlooking shipbuilding.
We've just gone and paid $3 million to Boston consulting, who have decided the projects are late, and their answer is to do a restructure and employ more people. It's McHale's Navy. We're not short of overseers. The number of people is not the issue; it's the skills and experience of those people that are currently there. The leadership has failed. They pick the wrong solutions. Moving chairs is not the answer. We need to change the people. We need to start at the top and work our way down.