Feeds

MPs: UK defence project was crap

Bowman skewered

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Another UK defence procurement project has been excoriated in yet another damning Parliamentary report.

The project under fire this time is the Bowman military communications infrastructure, a perennial favourite among connoisseurs of arms-procurement cockups.

The finger-pointing group of MPs today is the Commons Public Accounts Committee, which put up its full report at midnight, here (pdf).

The CPA Committee often has harsh words for defence projects, once famously describing a helicopter purchase by saying the forces might as well have bought turkeys instead.

The Bowman project actually began in the late eighties but, as so often happens with Ministry of Defence programmes, more than a decade was spent trying to assemble a contracting consortium which could both do the job and was politically acceptable. For those interested, a short history is provided by the MoD here.

The project's first big disaster came with the 1996 collapse of competition between the Siemens Plessey Systems (SPS)/Racal "Yeoman" team and the ITT "Crossbow".

A mere 10 years after work began at the MoD, in 1998, it appeared that forward movement had been achieved with award of a firm contract to the ITT/SPS/Racal "Archer" alliance to produce Bowman. But this too duly collapsed, and in 2001 a new contract was inked with General Dynamics UK.

Today's CPAC report concerns itself mainly with the progress of the Bowman programme since then, and it makes depressing reading for UK taxpayers – or indeed anyone with the British forces' interests at heart.

To give a flavour of the report's tone, it has four main sections, titled "programme governance arrangements were not fit for purpose", "initial decisions were not well informed" "through life costs were not rigorously assessed", and "operational benefits are limited".

Bowman also had a lighter shoeing last year, from the National Audit Office. Being accountants rather than politicians, the NAO was less brutal, but still critical here and there.

The army has been harsher yet, according to some accounts.

The fact the Bowman project has not gone like a dream is scarcely news, but today's report is probably another coffin-nail for the idea that UK defence procurement has been radically reformed in recent years. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.