LONDON Dec 9 Britain is set to shelve plans to
outsource its 159 billion pound ($260 billion) military
equipment buying programme to a private firm, a Ministry of
Defence source said, after one of the two consortiums left in
the running pulled out.
US engineering firm CH2M Hill, which was leading a team with
Serco Group and WS Atkins, said on Nov. 19 that
its group had withdrawn from bidding to run Britain's Defence
Equipment and Support (DE&S) unit.
Its withdrawal left only one team, led by U.S. engineering
group Bechtel and with PA Consulting and PricewaterhouseCoopers
, in the competition.
The source said it was likely that Defence Secretary Philip
Hammond would end the commercial competition and announce
alternative plans for reforming defence buying.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that no decision had
been made and Hammond would provide an update shortly. A
spokeswoman for Bechtel declined to comment.
The government had initially intended to study the remaining
team's proposal and to compare it against an alternative known
as "DE&S" plus, an option which would keep the unit under
The DE&S unit accounted for almost half of the MoD's 34.4
billion pound budget last year. Britain expects to spend 159
billion pounds on military equipment between 2012 and 2022.
Its plan, which would have made Britain the first country to
outsource its negotiations with weapon suppliers such as BAE
Systems, had been criticised by defence executives as
lacking clarity over issues such as the protection of commercial