Select Committee on Public Accounts Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence



Correspondence between Air Foyle Ltd, the Defence Procurement Agency, the National Audit Office, and the Clerk of the Committee

Letter from the Chief of Defence Procurement to the Clerk of the Committee (PAC 01-02/49)

  Thank you for your letter of 11 October attaching a copy of the letter to Air Foyle from C&AG, following his investigations into the issues surrounding the selection of the C-17 aircraft. You sought my further observations on the difference in emphasis between the formal debrief to Air Foyle and my response to the Committee's questions during the MPR 2000 hearing. Your letter also referred to C&AG's conclusion that there was a lack of clarity concerning the basis upon which the decision was made.

  Although the Short Term Strategic Airlift requirement was not an MPR 2000 project, I answered the questions in a spirit of co-operation and sought to give as clear and concise a response as I could. My aim was to describe for the Committee the key problem (lack of secure, assured airlift) with the Air Foyle bid. I did not suggest that I had given all the reasons for the Air Foyle bid being unsuccessful, nor did I seek to compare the relative merits of the bids. Air Foyle was provided with the full details, some of which are commercially sensitive, during its losing bidder debrief. I do not believe that my responses to the Committee were inconsistent with that debrief.

  Throughout the STSA competition, Air Foyle was fully briefed on the competitive process. As the C&AG acknowledges, Air Foyle was aware that the evaluation criteria were not explicit before it prepared its submission and did understand that the main thrust of the Department's concerns lay in its ability to use the airlift service without political interference. The very different nature and structure of the C-17 and Antonov solutions precluded the use of a conventional COEIA. That said, the Department has noted the C&AG's comments regarding the lack of clarity in the process and has taken account of them when considering what lessons have been learnt from this competition.

  The success of the STSA programme has been derived from its novel acquisition process with many innovative strategies being developed as the project moved forward. I am sure you and the Committee will be pleased to learn that the C-17 has entered service with the RAF three months ahead of schedule.

Sir Robert Walmsley
Defence Procurement Agency

2 November 2001

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