Defence Support Group - Defence Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  The workforces of both ABRO and DARA, now within DSG, are to be commended for their conscientious and flexible approach to the merger. The executive team implementing the merger should also be praised for ensuring that there was no hiatus in DSG's support for the Armed Forces nor any diminution to the quality of that support. (Paragraph 10)

2.  We expect the MoD in its response to this Report to make categorically clear that the ability of DSG to continue to deliver cost savings will not alone determine its future, and that the rationale of the creation of DSG is broader and deeper than the cost considerations that supported the reasoning behind the merger. (Paragraph 11)

3.  The first DSG Annual Report is expected to be issued in the early summer. It will contain fuller information relating to DSG's performance in its first full year, together with its set of future targets. We fully expect the first year's performance to correspond to the forecasts given to us in January. (Paragraph 14)

4.  Continuing pressure exists for the Government, and its departments of state such as the MoD, to realise further cost savings, the efficiency savings captured from ABRO and DARA during amalgamation, and from DSG during its first year of operation, have already contributed to departmental savings: seeking further cuts which might compromise DSG's operational capabilities and skills according to some arbitrary allocation of savings expected would be wrong-headed. (Paragraph 15)

5.  We are impressed by DSG's commitment to apprenticeships which we feel shows a real determination to provide over the long-term a continuing high level of support to the UK's Armed Forces. (Paragraph 18)

6.  We would be grateful for the MoD's assessment of the particular weaknesses in the area of high level managerial skills which DSG inherited from its predecessor organisations, ABRO and DARA. (Paragraph 20)

7.  We request a note from the MoD setting out how DSG intends to deal with distributional problems relating to the recruitment and retention of its workforce, bearing in mind that its unique geographical footprint is an asset it presumably does not want to lose. (Paragraph 21)

8.  We express our gratitude to all those DSG employees who have volunteered, sometimes on more than once occasion, to deploy in theatre in support of operations. Such commitment is of great value to DSG and to our Armed Forces and clearly indicates the high level of dedication amongst the staff within DSG. (Paragraph 25)

9.  The Equipment Sustainability Solution (ESS) provides an excellent opportunity for DSG to maintain its strong partnership with industry and continue to provide excellent quality support to the UK's Armed Forces in theatre. We very much hope that DSG is successful in the competition for sub-contracts for work on the ESS. This would be a positive development for DSG, for industry and for the Armed Forces, who will all need to work in ever closer cooperation as the conflict in Afghanistan persists. (Paragraph 28)

10.  We are concerned that current uncertainties with regard to the size and timescale for the MoD's recuperation programme following drawdown in Iraq might create difficulties even for an organisation as flexible and committed as DSG. We call on the MoD to ensure that DSG is as well apprised as possible of what it will need to do and over what time period within the recuperation programme. DSG will itself need to monitor the continuing, if not increasing, demands being placed upon it, directly or indirectly, by current operations. (Paragraph 33)

11.  We recommend that the MoD, in its response to this Report, make clear the anticipated levels of future manpower and resource commitment within DSG to the ESS, to the recuperation programme, and to UORs, set alongside its capacity to deal with its core non-operational areas of activity. (Paragraph 33)

12.  The sustained and thorough commitment of DSG staff to supporting our Armed Forces in operational theatre is there for everyone to see. We commend DSG staff for this full-hearted commitment and for maintaining a high level of performance in support of operations. (Paragraph 34)

13.  DSG has shown since the merger its ability to trade efficiently and effectively both with the MoD and the Armed Forces and also with industry. Managing these relationships while maximising performance and keeping as buoyant as possible its remaining unique and historical capabilities will be key to DSG's future. The MoD should do nothing to threaten this, unless it takes serious stock of DSG's position and decides that the Trading Fund model is no longer appropriate and that DSG's future lies elsewhere. This is a decision that must not be taken likely. We wish DSG well and hope that our successor Committee in the next Parliament will revisit DSG at an appropriate time to consider its continuing performance and progress as a Trading Fund. (Paragraph 49)

14.  We recommend that the MoD in its response to the Report takes the opportunity to set out a clear vision for DSG's future, taking into account the growing reliance of DSG upon industry. (Paragraph 50)

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