Select Committee on Defence Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the Rt Hon Baroness Symons concerning the Science and Technology Review (22 March 2001)

  I wrote to you on 27 September last year informing you that the Ministry of Defence's Chief Scientific Adviser had established a small team to examine Science and Technology within the Department.

  This work is still progressing, but there are some elements of the team's emerging thinking on the future management of the MoD's research programme that we want to start implementing early. We are therefore consulting the Unions on these elements now, in advance of the team's final report, which is due to be completed in the next six weeks or so. I attach a copy of the consultative document. Our aim is to put the new arrangements in place as fully as possible when NewDERA is vested and the new Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is created on 2 July 2001.

  In order to provide the Department with a better focus for strategic decision-making, and to maximise the benefits of DERA PPP, we intend to create a new group of Research Directors to lead on formulating the research programme and considering the best procurement strategies. Capability Research Directors will ensure that military needs are fully and coherently met, whilst Technology Research Directors will assist in this by considering the Department's overall strategy in particular technology areas and will propose underpinning, longer-term and innovative projects for inclusion in the research programme. In addition, we will need an expanded contracting capability once NewDERA becomes a Government-owned plc.

  An important element in the success of these new arrangements will be attracting outstanding people to carry out the new Technology Research Director role. There are many excellent staff already in the Department who could do these jobs, but we are keen to ensure that we maintain a flow of people into these posts with good, current knowledge of developments in particular technology areas. We therefore intend to advertise openly some of these key posts.

  As I mentioned in my earlier letter, I will write to you again with the summary of the review team's overall findings once the Department has considered them.


Ministry of Defence's Science and Technology Review

Consultative Document


  1.  The aim of this document is to explain the Department's proposals for creating a group of posts within the Central Scientific Staff to formulate and direct its Research Programme. It provides a basis for the Ministry of Defence to consult Trades Unions on the proposals. It is also being made available to other interested parties who may wish to comment.


  2.  MoD's Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) established a small team in June 2000 to review the Department's future needs for science and technology and make recommendations on how best to achieve these.

  3.  The team have concentrated on how the Department is going to manage its research budget in the light of DERA PPP. The CSA has requested that the review team's proposals in this area be considered in advance of their final report as it is essential that this new structure is in place to direct the research programme as soon as possible following the vesting of NewDERA and the creation of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on 2 July 2001.


  4.  The transfer of 11 posts from the DSTL Trading Fund to the Chief Scientific Adviser's High Level Budget to act as Capability Research Directors. This is based on two small programmes being managed together with larger programmes. If, however, it proves better to split these responsibilities, the number may rise to 12 or 13.

  5.  The creation of nine Technology Research Directors in the Central Scientific Staff with a total staff of 33 posts plus support. Eighteen of these posts exist already, five exist in a slightly different guise, and 10 will be new. Four to six of these posts will be openly competed, with internal candidates also encouraged to apply.

  6.  The creation of new posts to carry out contracting for research following DERA PPP.


  7.  Currently, the key role in the management of applied research is carried out by Package Managers in DERA who translate the Central Customers' requirements into research proposals and manage the provision of the resulting programme from the relevant DERA sectors. This arrangement will not be able to continue after DERA PPP.

  8.  In future, if MoD is to get the best value from the Research Building Block, we need to be in a position to access a wide research supplier base whilst maintaining a coherent overall programme that, as well as meting the needs of the different capability areas and other Central Customers, avoids overlap and duplication. This will require the programme formulation process to look at research requirements from both the capability and technology perspective, so that sensible packages are created. Thereafter, a decision will need to be taken as to whether the work needs to be done in DSTL, or whether it can be sourced externally. In the latter case the best procurement strategy will need to be determined, to make the most of the future, more varied research supplier base.

  9.  These functions, essentially that of determining the research requirement and procurement strategy, are properly a Head Office responsibility. The model proposed to carry them out involves scientific representatives of the Directors of Equipment Capability (who will remain the customers for the Applied Research Programme (ARP)), and scientists responsible for particular technology areas, working in multi-disciplinary teams. DSTL would provide a range of technical advice throughout this process and in the subsequent step of integrating and evaluating the research outputs.

  10.  This new approach will require the establishment of Capability and Technology Research Directors in the Central Scientific Staff to formulate the research programme and procurement strategies. The technical expertise in these posts will also be used more widely to provide advice on scientific issues and risks.

  11.  In addition, there will need to be an expanded contracting capability once NewDERA becomes a government-owned plc on 2 July. At present, a small number of staff in the Central Scientific Staff run the research competition pilot and the resulting contracts. As NewDERA's guaranteed workshare diminishes over the next few years and we start to make better use of universities, industry and other external suppliers, this need will grow. We propose that these new posts should be created as part of the Central Scientific Staff, although probably located alongside DSTL, outside London.


  12.  The Capability Research Director posts will be created in the Central Scientific Staff. They will replace the current Package Managers in DERA and, although the roles are significantly different, these individuals will be the ideal candidates for these roles. The intention for the first year would be to second the individuals concerned into the Capability Research Director posts and transfer them to the Chief Scientific Adviser High Level Budget after that. There would be no need to post the individuals to London, as they are currently located with the technical experts of DSTL and would need in the future to travel to London no more frequently than they do currently. Nine of the posts will be graded B1 and two B2.

  13.  Each of the Technology Director areas will be headed by a B1. Five of the areas: Chemical and Biological Defence/Human Systems, Synthetic Environments/Simulation and Support, Operating Environment, Ballistic Missile Defence and Nuclear Systems currently exist in a similar guise and we do not propose changing the number of technical posts at this level and below. The other four areas; materials, Energy/Guidance and Control, Communications and Information Processing and Sensors and Electronic Warfare will be new.

  14.  We intend to compete openly the B1 posts where they are new creations and others as appropriate, and our assumption is that the other B1 posts will be competed when they become vacant, although we will preserve the ability to make grade-managed moves and direct secondments when appropriate. There may be some flexibility over pay if this is necessary to attract an external candidate with outstanding qualities and background. Internal candidates will be encouraged to apply when the posts are competed.

  15.  A diagram showing the relationship between the Capability Research Director and Technology Research Director posts and existing posts is attached.[5]

  16.  Virtually all the contracts posts will need to be new creations. We envisage about 17 posts overall (14 commercial and three support) by the second half of 2001-02, rising to at least 33 (25 commercial and eight support) by the second half of 2003-04.


  17.  We envisage the Technology Research Director posts being funded by a re-shaping of the current Corporate Research Programme customer posts and some others in the Central Scientific Staff. This will not, however, be able to cover the new Capability Research Director and contracts posts. For these, we propose to transfer money from the Research Building Block to the Chief Scientific Adviser's High Level Budget. In effect, therefore, these functions will no longer be funded (to the extent that they are carried out at present) as a management fee on activity paid to DERA but as running costs for permanent posts in the Central Scientific Staff.


  18.  The intention is to have the new research management organisation as fully in place as possible at the time of the vesting of NewDERA and creation of DSTL on 2 July 2001, so that the MoD can be in a position to begin to formulate and manage the 2002-03 research programme. Therefore implementation will commence as soon as the consultation period is complete and any issues raised have been addressed.


  19.  The S&T Review Team's work is continuing into the re-shaping of the other functions in the Central Scientific Staff. Their final report will be produced in May when we shall write again to consult on any further proposals that have implications in which you would be interested.

  20.  Final decisions will not be taken before a proper period of consultation is completed. This document provides the basis for this consultation and the Ministry of Defence would welcome views and comments on the proposals it contains by [date]. Any comments from local Trades Union representatives should be channelled through the constituent unions to the MoD Council of Civil Service Unions, or the TU Side Secretary of the MoD Industrial Whitley Council, as appropriate, who will be responsible for presenting a co-ordinated response to Stephen Smith, the Head of the S&T Review Team.

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