Supreme Audit Office: armament acquisitions system does not work as it should

Supreme Audit Office: armament acquisitions system does not work as it should
14 / 01 / 2021, 10:00

Not long after the last major audit concerning the the purchase, modernization, repairs and maintenance of the Czech Army's armored vehicles between 2016 and 2018, the SAO published recently results of another examination on purchases of armament of the Czech Army in 2017-2020. Although only 1/1000 of the total sum has been identified as inefficiently spent, the Office states several issues within the system of acquisitions. The MoD responded immediately and does not agree with some of the conclusions.

The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) examined the funds spent by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) on the armament of the Czech Army in the years 2017 to 2020. In total, these were concluded contracts for the acquisition of armaments and related spare parts for more than 3.1 billion crowns. The inspection showed that the purchasing system is not effective. For example, the ministry erred in specifying the equipment purchased, did not provide spare parts for its entire life cycle, and instead of concluding a framework agreement, purchased equipment in stages. It had to announce new tenders or repeat them due to errors. This makes purchases more expensive, the administrative burden increases and the armament of the Army is delayed compared to the deadlines approved by the Government in the concept documents of the Ministry of Defense.

See also: The state spends billions on purchase and service of armored vehicles. Nevertheless, a large part is not operational

By 2020, the Ministry of Defense planned to purchase assault rifles with grenade launcher, sniper rifles, a portable anti-tank missile set as replacement for the current man-portable anti-tank weapon. In the end, however, it acquired only assault rifles with grenade launcher and, instead of a sniper rifle, a modular weapon set. It postponed other purchases to future years. The MoD thus does not build the combat capabilities of the Army in the required time.

The system by which the MoD buys equipment does not work as it should. Acquisitions are prolonged, which increases costs and increases the administrative burden for the Ministry. For example, the MoD erred in specifying what equipment or spare parts it wanted to purchase. The tender procedure therefore had to be repeated. For example, when buying a modular weapon set, when it incorrectly specified one of the rounds. When purchasing spare parts for the 5.56 mm SIG 516 rifle, it even had to cancel the already concluded contract with the supplier and announce the tender again.

When purchasing machine guns, the Ministry of Defense repeated the tender four times in total. The Ministry has been purchasing MINIMI machine guns in stages since 2013, instead of concluding a framework contract with the supplier, thus reducing the administrative burden.

In addition to these machine guns, the Ministry of Defense purchased unsuitable daily sights, although during the tender procedure it was repeatedly alerted to this problem by one of the participants in the proceedings and also the Office for Defense Standardization, Cataloging and State Quality Assurance. In addition, the Office recommended that the Ministry conduct an abbreviated military test of machine gun sights before purchasing. However, the Ministry did not implement them, even though they were originally planned. As a result, the resort spent almost 3.4 million crowns on inappropriate accessories.

See also: MoD did violate the Public Procurement Act – but the purchase of the Venom and Viper helicopters stays confirmed by the OPC

The SAO pointed out that the MoD should verify the parameters of the purchased armaments before signing the contract already in 2016. However, the correction was not sufficient on the part of the Ministry and it was only during the inspection in 2020 that it began preparing a change in internal regulations.

For two of the four controlled purchases of equipment, the MoD did not provide spare parts for its entire life cycle, but purchased only a limited number of them. This makes it more difficult to negotiate with the supplier and may ultimately make their purchase more expensive. The MoD will have to agree to the conditions of the supplier who has a license for spare parts. The SAO also drew attention to the same problem last year when inspecting the purchase of armored vehicles. Even for these purchases, the MoD did not take into account the costs of the entire life cycle.

According to inspectors, the Ministry of Defense violated the Public Procurement Act in several cases when purchasing armaments. For example, when it canceled the procurement procedure in a way that is against the law. Or when it concluded a contract with the supplier which did not comply with the tender conditions, and thus violated the principle of transparency.

Communication Department, Supreme Audit Office

The Ministry answered immediately:

The SAO's audit "Acquisition of Armaments by the Army of the Czech Republic" dealt with the period 2017-19 and focused on several contracts related to small arms.

The Ministry of Defense does not agree with some of the conclusions and especially with their interpretation in the SAO's press release, the wording of which is distorting and biased.

Based on a sample of several orders, it is not possible to agree with the statement that armament acquisitions are prolonged and more expensive, and the Ministry of Defense is not building the military's combat capabilities at the required time. On the contrary, modernization in recent years continues at the highest rate in history and according to the plans and needs of the Czech Army.

See also: Purchase of guns from France: Defense delayed their acquisition

In the years 2019-20 alone, hundreds of contracts in the amount of 60 billion crowns were concluded in the field of armaments and equipment. Moreover, the delay in the acquisition of small arms from Česká zbrojovka was not caused by the Ministry of Defense, but by the need to wait for the settlement of the objection filed by the competing company with the Office of Public Procurement.

The inspectors examined contracts worth 3.1 billion crowns. They identified only funds in the amount of 3.37 million crowns as inefficiently spent, ie about one thousandth of the total amount.

The Ministry considers the fact that the SAO did not find any violation of legal norms with criminal liability or violation of budgetary discipline during the audit. The Ministry of Defense has already taken or is preparing measures, on which it will inform the Government.


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