In 2012, the British Army naively launched into a 10-year partnership with Capita to recruit new soldiers, thinking it could leave Capita to manage recruitment. However, Capita entered into the contract without fully understanding the complexity of what it was taking on. Both parties entered into an over-specified contract and then introduced changes to centralise the approach to recruitment without trialling them. The Army and Capita also failed to simplify the recruitment approach and have only recently introduced the essential online recruitment system, over four years late. The Army has managed the Programme passively but Capita’s performance has been abysmal since it started, and it has failed to meet the Army’s recruitment targets every single year of the contract – an unacceptable level of service delivery.. Over the last year, the Army and Capita have introduced changes to the recruitment approach, but it is too early to detect any impact on enlistments and the Army still does not expect to fully meet its recruitment targets until 2022. We are not convinced that the Army will manage Capita strongly enough to improve performance or avoid Capita charging excessively for the continued use of the online recruitment system after 2022. We are also highly sceptical that the Army will achieve its forecast savings as a result of employing Capita. If the contract does not deliver the anticipated savings, this waste of taxpayers money undermines confidence in MoD planning. Some of the problems establishing this contract are similar to those on The MoD’s other major contract with Capita on the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which it will end five years early due to poor performance. We are disappointed to see the MoD replicate the contract management errors that our Committee sees all too often across government.
Published: 1 March 2019