The UK National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the British Army and its contractor Capita Business Services have failed to achieve annual targets for recruiting new soldiers and officers every year since 2013.
The findings come after NAO launched an investigation into the British Army Recruiting Partnering Project.
The project was established in 2012 with a £1.36bn commitment over ten years to help the army transform its approach to recruitment. It was intended to reduce recruiting costs and sign up more soldiers and officers.
Capita was awarded a £495m contract to provide recruiting techniques and marketing, as well as manage the process.
Through the project, the army aimed to recruit the number of soldiers, including regular and reserve officers that the service requires each year.
The investigation follows concerns raised in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s reports on ensuring sufficient skilled military personnel and army by 2020.
NAO found that Capita missed the army’s annual target for regular soldiers by an average of 30%, compared with 4% in the two years before the contract began.
The report said that the total shortfall each year ranged from 21% to 45% of the army’s requirements.
However, Capita recruited 661 regular officers, achieving 95% of the army’s requirements in 2017-18 for recruits.
The report also detailed the problems encountered, and how the British Army and Capita responded, as well as the nation’s programme management.
In November 2017, an online recruitment system was launched by Capita, which was originally planned for introduction in July 2013. The system was also intended to be used by the Royal Navy and Air Force.
However, significant problems with the new online system also reduced the number of recruits.
Since then, the army and Capita have made significant changes to their overall approach to recruitment but still failed to achieve the desired results.
Capita recruited only 2,400 regulars in the first six months of 2018-19, compared to the army’s target of 5,300.
NAO’s report noted that the project will not achieve its planned savings of £267m for the UK Ministry of Defence.