BERN --- Last year, Federal Councilor Viola Amherd asked for an external analysis to improve the arms procurement process. The results and recommendations formulated by Deloitte SA and a support group are now available. The DDPS will gradually implement them, further improving the arms procurement process. This will strengthen Parliament’s role in providing strategic direction to the military.
Federal Councilor Viola Amherd, head of the DDPS, set herself the goal of improving the arms acquisition process. After launching a first internal analysis last year, she requested, in autumn 2019, an analysis by an external expert group to check if and how the procurement process could be improved. There is a risk, particularly for weaponry with high electronics content, that the systems are already obsolete by the time they are introduced into service.
Broadly supported external analysis
On the one hand, the external analysis was entrusted to the company Deloitte SA, which is one of the most efficient management and strategic consulting companies in the world and which, at the international level, has the value of an expert in terms of arms acquisition. Deloitte SA presented a report comprising three main recommendations and five other recommendations.
On the other hand, a support group made up of external representatives examined the conclusions of Deloitte SA and also made recommendations. Its members were: former national councilor Adrian Amstutz, former corps commander Dominique Andrey, Armin Berchtold (CEO of the Securitas group and vice-president of the Armaments Commission), former national councilor Corina Eichenberger , Fritz Gantert (president of the Swiss Technical and Army Society), Lukas Hupfer (director of the Think Tank foraus) and Professor Andreas Wenger (director of the CSS EPFZ).
Implementation launched step by step
The results and recommendations of Deloitte SA and the support group show that the current processes work well overall, also in international comparison. But it also emerged from the analysis that the efficiency of current processes could be improved in terms of time, quality and costs.
The head of the DDPS has now asked to implement these recommendations in the months that follow.
Strengthening the strategic role of Parliament
One of the main recommendations of Deloitte SA, to which the support group fully subscribes, aims to strengthen the role of Parliament as regards the strategic orientation to be given to the army. The current model foresees that in its annual Message on the Military, the Federal Council requests from Parliament each year appropriations to acquire military equipment.
Instead, the Federal Council will have to involve Parliament more closely at a higher level. Concretely, Parliament will have to deal with the issue of how the military is to fulfill its mandate in the medium and long term, taking into account spending limits and for a period of four years, once in each legislature.
Oversight remains guaranteed, because Parliament will be able to continue to intervene at the level of acquisitions within the framework of the annual budget including a planning of tasks and financial commitments.
This change reinforces the role of Parliament in the strategic steering of the orientation of the Forces in the medium and long term. In addition, such an approach enhances the flexibility and agility of acquisition projects.
Such a turning point can only be implemented step by step and in close consultation with the competent parliamentary committees. A first exchange has already taken place with the Security Policy Committees. Depending on the results of the interviews that will follow, the Federal Council could, for the purposes of legislation 2023-2027, present for the first time a message relating to the orientation of the army.
Better overview of projects
The other two main recommendations issued by Deloitte SA will be implemented internally by the DDPS. They aim to better manage the acquisition projects, currently coordinated by the Defense Group and armasuisse. It is also necessary to have a better overview of the projects in progress, which are often interdependent.
In addition, the organizational units that will use the asset or system in question will be more involved after project approval. The fact that they will have to assume greater responsibility ensures that the projects will be implemented, in terms of content, deadlines and financial aspects, as planned. The projects will thus be able to achieve the targeted objectives.