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Improving the performance of defence equipment contracts

Over many years the NAO has reported on delays and cost overruns across significant Ministry of Defence (MoD) equipment procurement programmes, such as boats 4-7 of the Astute attack submarine (£1 billion over budget) and the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers (£2.75 billion over budget). Our recent report Defence Capabilities: delivering what was promised, found that the MoD identified major risks to the timely delivery of nearly one-third of the most significant programmes, which had a forecast total procurement cost of £196 billion.

In this study, we will assess the underlying causes of equipment procurement problems, and why they continue to occur despite efforts to learn from the past. We will also consider how the MoD knows it is achieving value for money from these procurement programmes.