Lord Levene has delivered his annual progress report and declared: “a leopard really can change its spots”.
His original report in 2011 considered how to improve the management of the MOD, making 53 recommendations, and committed to reviewing progress annually.
The latest review praised stronger financial management across MOD – a vital step in ensuring that the department never again has an unaffordable, overheated programme – and finds that MOD is now much better placed to address the challenges of the future.
Lord Levene said:
This year I perceive a sea change in attitudes from every side. One of the principal recommendations was to delegate expenditure down the chain of command to the user.
This was a brave decision by ministers and the Treasury but I think that their faith and confidence is beginning to pay off.
To me the MOD is now a very different animal from that which I left some 20 years ago, especially in terms of showing that they can be trusted to manage the money. A leopard really can change its spots.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
Defence has undergone significant transformation over the past 4 years, and I am pleased that Lord Levene has recognised the progress made, not least the much stronger financial management he observed.
Of course, there is always more we can do. That is why I welcome Lord Levene’s suggestions for further improvement and am pleased to report that much of this work has already begun.
The review also finds that:
- the “right attitudes and behaviours are increasingly in place” in the Head Office
- the MOD’s management board has already come to be considered among the best in Whitehall, embedding a wholesale attitude and behaviour change, as front line commands embrace newly delegated powers
- financial management is much stronger in MOD than 3 years ago
- top level budgets are – on the whole – seen to “own” their plans, take more responsibility for delivery and are much more active in determining their own priorities
- a “lean and agile” Joint Forces Command is bringing improved focus to technological enablers
- a positive assessment of progress in Defence Equipment and Support where reforms “augur well for the future”
As the government moves towards the next Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015, the Secretary of State is committed to cementing and building on the progress made so far, with a strategic focus that ensures that defence stands up to challenges from a position of strength.
Lord Levene will undertake a further review next year.