Defence Committee Press Notice

Session 2008-09, 30 March 2009

Publication of Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08 Report


Failings by the MoD in its programme to modernise the administrative support given to Service personnel have been described as “unacceptable” by the House of Commons Defence Committee in a Report published today. The Joint Personnel Administration programme (JPA) was intended to improve upon hitherto single-Service systems of payroll, postings, promotions, recruitment and training. However, a lack of sufficient financial controls has led the National Audit Office (NAO) to ‘qualify’ the MoD’s Resource Accounts for 2007-08. The absence of these controls led to errors in payroll and consequent problems with both underpayments and overpayments - the latter requiring the recovery of £28.9 million.

The Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, explained that, “These failings are significant because they impact upon several areas critical to satisfaction with life in the Services. It is, in our view, deeply regrettable that such mistakes were allowed to be made by those charged with oversight of the JPA programme. We will continue to monitor the operation of JPA, and hope to find evidence of vastly improved service when we report again next year.”

The Committee is also concerned that staff cuts from the MoD Head Office Streamlining Programme, intended to address some of the criticisms of the March 2007 Capability Review of the Department, may have an adverse impact upon the MoD’s performance. These cuts are being made at the same time as a reduction of 23,000 civil and military posts, a result of the efficiency savings programme, and will place greater strains upon personnel supporting current operations.

The Committee also expresses its disappointment with the MoD’s failure accurately to gauge its likely performance against targets in the years preceding the 2007-08 Annual Report and Accounts, particularly with regard to readiness targets which it completely failed to meet. James Arbuthnot said, “We are concerned that the MoD had given the impression that it had a chance to meet targets that, in the end, it entirely failed to meet.  This institutional over-optimism might in some areas significantly impact on efforts to improve performance. Although the MoD is putting a recuperation programme into place it will still be several years before our Armed Forces are at targets levels of readiness.” The Committee is currently inquiring into Readiness and recuperation, and expects to take evidence from the Secretary of State (the Rt Hon John Hutton MP) on Tuesday 28 April.


The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. The Defence Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Ministry of Defence and its associated public bodies.


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