MOD’s Jim Carter: Modernising the defence supply chain

The MOD is the largest procurement organisation in central government, managing some of the most complex and technologically advanced requirements in the world, with an annual procurement spend of more than £20 billion per year.  

But there are strategic challenges to be addressed if we are to sustain delivery of effective military capability in a challenging financial climate, and maintain our contribution to national security and prosperity over the long term. This is why we have embarked upon an ambitious programme of change and improvement, which will help us to deliver our vision of a vibrant, sustainable and competitive UK industrial base. I am proud to be leading a number of initiatives under our Modernising Defence Programme (MDP), as we seek to adopt a more collaborative and demanding approach to our relationship with industry.  

As part of this, we have reviewed our Strategic Supplier Management approach, to deliver improved performance with our most strategic suppliers; delivering better value for money and key prosperity objectives, and mitigating supply chain risk. In addition, Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Champions have been appointed within our strategic suppliers, and their role is to help shape our strategy for engagement with SMEs. 

MOD's Jim Carter on modernising the defence supply chain

Simultaneously we’re seeking to reframe our collective engagement with industry. We’ve jointly developed a 2025 Defence Industry Vision, and are re-designing our Defence Suppliers Forum structure with Ministerial leadership to realise a step change in cooperative delivery. I’ve been personally delighted with the engagement in these initiatives, including working closely with industry via round table events to explore the challenges and opportunities of working within the defence sector. Across MOD and industry there is universal support for improving both performance and engagement, and a real appetite to see these important changes implemented – and succeed. 

But that’s not all. We also want to encourage innovation and will continue to pursue policies and practices that make it easier for new and smaller businesses to do business with defence. For example, we have recently introduced new functionality to our Defence Contracts Online portal to enable sub-contracts to be advertised, and we are encouraging our major suppliers to make use of this facility to improve visibility of opportunities. We have also engaged with our major suppliers and asked them to report SME spend through their supply chain, and we will continue this on an annual basis. We have also refreshed our SME Action Plan and intend publishing this early in the New Year; this will include pathfinder projects which will demonstrate effective strategies to encourage wider SME participation throughout our supply chain. 

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Jim Carter, Commercial Director Supply Chain, Ministry of Defence