U.K. Starts Designing Switch to Outsourced Training
LONDON - Doubts over the future of a 12 billion pound ($19.9 billion) deal to modernize British military technical training have been partially allayed by a Ministry of Defence deal with preferred bidder Metrix to begin detailing the transformation.
The two sides are expected to sign a 31 million pound contract Aug. 17 for an 18-month package of work called Early Training Transformation (ETT). Yet negotiations continue on a 30-year private finance initiative (PFI) deal to give the Metrix consortium responsibility for much of the armed forces' specialist training.
ETT is funded by the MoD; the cost will be rolled into the Defence Training Review (DTR) Package 1 contract at a later stage if the larger program goes ahead.
David Anderson, the managing director of Metrix's training delivery arm, said the MoD is confident enough about progress on the PFI negotiations to allow work to start.
"The significance of the contract is that the MoD is sufficiently confident that Metrix has got a solution they really want," Anderson said. "They are confident the DTR program itself is sufficiently far down the line towards the PFI contract that they would like to start the training transformation now, rather than wait until the full contract is in place."
He said the MoD wants to move as quickly as possible.
"It makes sense to do it as early as possible, so they can get the benefits earlier. It's an enabler for a lot of other things," he said.
MORE AWARDS TO FOLLOW?
The award could open the gates for other DTR contract awards related to the development of the proposed Defence Technical College at St. Athan in South Wales.
Metrix is led by equity partners QinetiQ and Sodexo. The ETT work will be undertaken by consortium member Raytheon.
The DTR program, destined to be Britain's biggest-ever PFI, has proved controversial and difficult to conclude. Negotiations between the MoD and the preferred bidder have been going on for more than two-and-a -alf years, at least a year longer than expected.
A 1 billion pound increase in cost has raised affordability questions. Land Securities, the original lead partner in Metrix alongside QinetiQ, pulled out and was replaced by Sodexo. The global credit crunch has hurt Metrix's plans to raise capital to begin the work. Late last year, one Conservative Party politician said he believed the DTR Package 1 program was close to collapse.
But now things are looking up - if DTR can avoid the potential roadblock of a general election and a possible change of government no later than mid-2010.
The election will be followed by a defense review, regardless of which party secures victory.
A Conservative Party spokeswoman said, "Everything the MoD does will be included in the Strategic Defence Review. That, of course, embraces PFI programs."
The MoD says on its DTR Web site that a decision on whether to proceed with the program is scheduled to be made by the Investment Approvals Board later this year, with financial closure next summer.
Previous dates set by the government as far back as spring 2008 have been missed, though, as the two sides sought to iron out the difficulties.
New government guidance on timelines could be forthcoming during the third quarter of this year.
Metrix also won a second package of DTR work covering specialist training in other disciplines such as logistics and intelligence. But that program was later deemed unaffordable by the MoD and has been broken up into a series of separate competitions.
The DTR Package 1 modernization scheme is designed to integrate specialist engineering, communications and information systems training, now duplicated across the military services, under one roof in a new 700 million pound triservice college to be built at St. Athan.
The British military hopes the technology-rich scheme will provide a flexible and efficient method of training up to 2,400 people at St. Athan and another 400 at other military bases.
U.K. Starts Designing Switch to Outsourced Training - Defense News