Outgoing defence procurement chief Bernard Gray defends rise in Trident costs

Written by Civil Service World on 30 November 2015 in News
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Chief executive of the Defence Equipment and Support agency says fresh Trident cost estimates are proof of an end to a culture in which the MoD has been "unrealistic about the numbers"

The outgoing chief of defence materiel Sir Bernard Gray has defended a £6bn rise in the cost of the Trident nuclear missile program.

Last week's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) revealed that the cost of the nuclear deterrent had risen from a projected £25bn just five years ago to £31bn at the latest estimate. The Ministry of Defence has also set aside a £10bn contingency to account for possible cost over-runs.

But Gray – who steps down today after four years in charge of the the Defence Equipment and Support agency – said the latest estimate was the result of a more realistic approach to defence procurement at the MoD, which was criticised for a £37bn spending "black hole" when the coalition government came to office in 2010.


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"This is highly complex project," he told the Financial Times. "Properly costing the programme and putting in a proper contingency is the result of the work we have been doing for three years. Some of the most difficult confrontations I have had to have in this job have been arguing with people because they were being unrealistic about the numbers."

Gray is to be succeeded by Tony Douglas, formerly the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Airports Company.

The outgoing DE&S chief told the paper that he had tried to "shift the status quo" at the MoD, telling the FT: "In large bureaucracies, there is a risk that poor situations persist because nobody feels responsible."

The defence equipment budget received a £12bn boost at last week's SDSR – although unions have questioned whether the MoD will be able to deliver a range of complex new projects while reducing its civilian workforce by 30% over the next five years.

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