Emily Thornberry – 2016 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Defence

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Emily Thornberry on 2016-04-13.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many single source contracts his Department placed in 2015; and how many such contracts were classed as (a) new contracts and (b) amendments to existing contracts.

Mr Philip Dunne

Each year the Ministry of Defence (MOD) publishes an analysis of all new contracts which sets out whether they were placed competitively or non-competitively. This analysis appears in the Department’s Statistical Bulletin Trade, Industry and Contracts and the most recent period for which data is available can be found through the link below. Table six in the excel tables and page 11 of the pdf refer to the relevant information.


Figures for amendments to existing contracts are not held centrally and, due to the large number of such cases, an analysis could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All single source procurement contracts which met the criteria set out in Part two of the Defence Reform Act 2014 (DRA) are subject to the new single source procurement framework, apart from a very small number which have been specifically exempted from the framework by the Secretary of State for Defence, using the powers granted to him under section 14(7) of the DRA. The Department does not release details of these exemptions in order to avoid influencing future decisions.

Contracts which were signed prior to the new single source procurement framework coming into force can become subject to the regulations on amendment by agreement between the MOD and the contractor. To maximise the benefits from the regulations, the MOD intends to seek such agreement where appropriate, except where there are well founded commercial or practical reasons not to. However, the Department does not hold a central record of the number of contracts which have, on amendment, not been converted to Qualifying Defence Contracts, and the data could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Contracts which fall under the Regulations are only referred to the Single Source Regulations Office (SSRO) when there is a disagreement between the supplier and the contracting authority which cannot be resolved through negotiation between these two parties. The subjects that can be referred to the SSRO are set out in the DRA, and include whether or not costs are allowable, attributable to the contract and reasonable. Should a referral be made by either the MOD or the supplier, the consent of the other party is not required. One such referral was made in 2015, by the MOD.

The MOD is currently pursuing the recruitment of a Chair for the SSRO. The SSRO has an Interim Chairman in post and the Department plans to advertise this substantive position shortly.