BRILLIANT DIO MANAGES LARGE SCALE CHANGE IN DEFENCE INFRASTRUCTURE PROVISION
By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.
12 Nov 13. Conceived in SDSR 2010 and formed in April 2011 from what had been Defence Estates it is good to see that under the excellent leadership of Andrew Manley as CEO and Mark Hutchinson as COO the new Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is already making its presence strongly felt.
The task of changing the way that defence infrastructure support is to be managed for the benefit of the military and that with the necessity of affordability in mind must also be combined with a process of driving through greater efficiency should not be underestimated. Progress has already been excellent and the next year will be hugely important for DIO as the organisation moves through a further large scale process of change in how it delivers better value for taxpayer money together with much improved support to the military.
A product of the Levene Defence Review the DIO was charged to bring together all property and infrastructure management within a single organisation designed to optimise investment and strategic management of the vast defence estate. Bringing about a change in both attitude and approach as to how management of the defence estate would in future be approached whilst at the same time making the system efficient and affordable would be no easy task but it is one that in the relatively short period of just over two years has already made very good progress.
By any standards what the DIO manages on behalf of the MOD is enormous. Larger than either National Trust or Forestry Commission in terms of land, property and infrastructure managed the DIO estate is worth an estimated £25bn and has an annual budget spend of £3.3bn.
Responsibilities that the DIO is now mandated to undertake include the provision of an effective, coherent and affordable infrastructure solution that is able to meet all the needs of the military and defence establishment, providing sustainable, safe and legally compliant infrastructure and, as and when required, additional supporting of areas and theatre’s of war that the UK military is engaged such as in Afghanistan currently and that is designed around fast infrastructure provision, management and support that has been designed for the establishment of in-country stability.
While it has unfortunately become rather easy to find fault in many aspects of SDSR 2010 it is a delight to find one aspect that is not only already perceived to be a great success but also one that has clearly saved money for taxpayers. Arguably the predecessor Defence Estates organisation lacked a coherent strategy just as it did skills.
The old Defence Estates could hardly be said to have been cost efficient and neither was it perceived to have adequate systems or process to deliver what was required. In short Defence Estates failed to understand the ‘what’ knew too little about the ‘how’ and had little idea about ‘good and efficient means of execution’. What was needed and what Levene demanded was transformation of what was clearly a poorly managed, costly and inefficient legacy organisation to one that could hopefully in a very short period of time be the leading public sector infrastructure provider. DIO is already well on the way to achieving that mantle.
Managing some 230,000 ha. including Royal Navy dockyards, Royal Air Force bases, Army barracks, camps and vast training areas such as those on Salisbury Plain the DIO is the largest landowner in Britain. Overseas the DIO is responsible for MOD estates in Germany, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands together with individual sites in Norway, Poland, Kenya, Canada, Oman, Belize and Nepal. In terms of property DIO has a portfolio of 45,000 military buildings, 50,000 houses plus 35,000 flats and other types of living accommodation. With no less than 841 listed buildings, 170 sites of special scientific in