Headlines: July 26th, 2000

The plan to privatise almost the whole of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency has been modified following the criticism from many stakeholders. About a quarter of the Agency will remain within the Ministry of Defence. The remainder will be turned into a private sector company under a Public Private Partnership arrangement.The retained organisation will be made up from the most sensitive areas of work including the Chemical and Biological Defence Sector at Porton Down. It will also retain key functions for translating the results of defence science and technology research into the procurement programme, research at the defence systems level and management of international research collaboration. It will be sufficiently large to offer rewarding careers for scientists within MOD and the wider Civil Service.

The new company will be floated as soon as its potential is suitably developed, which could be during 2001. It is likely that the MOD will initially retain a financial stake in order to ensure that the taxpayer will receive a share of any immediate growth following the sale. The terms and conditions of staff who move to the new company will be protected by TUPE regulations.

One of the principal arguments for the privatisation is that it will provide significant opportunities, particularly in areas such as electronics, to transfer technology that was previously focused on defence to support the development of innovative and exciting consumer products.