FCDO unit hires £770k consultancy to help shape international defence collaboration platform

New Hermes platform is intended to provide a ‘modular, scalable solution’

Credit: Piqsels

The government has brought in a consultancy for a year-long six-figure contract to help shape plans for a new technology platform intended to support government in collaborating on defence issues with other nations around the world, as well as private-sector partners.

Project Hermes will be “designed to be a modular, scalable solution enabling the UK government to work securely and collaboratively with its international partners and global industry”, according to the recently published annual accounts of FCDO Services, the unit which is leading the programme.

The programme “is still early in development”, the document added, but FCDO Services’ “Technology and Operations team has worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to truly understand customer needs before developing a solution addressing and incorporating customer requirements that will remain future proof”.

Newly published procurement information reveals that the government unit, which will be working closely on the project with the Ministry of Defence, recently signed a one-year consultancy contract to support the development of a “strategic outline business case for [the] Hermes platform”.

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The deal was awarded via the G-Cloud 12 framework and was won by PA Consulting, which entered into an engagement with FCDO Services on 10 June. The contract will run until 23 May next year and the London-based consultancy will be paid £770,082.

The 2021/22 accounts for FCDO Services reveal that plans for Project Hermes were hatched in light of the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2015.

“It was recognised that strong alliances and partnerships are of growing importance,” the annual report added. “This has driven a need to collaborate more closely with allies and there is an opportunity for FCDO Services to support this work through Project Hermes.”

Operating as an arm’s-length trading fund of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the remit of FCDO Services is to “support diplomacy, development and defence for the UK government [and] offer services and expert advice to foreign governments and international organisations closely linked to the UK”.

The unit operates from more than 250 locations across 168 countries, and also contains the dedicate anti-espionage unit the UK National Authority for Counter-Eavesdropping.


Sam Trendall

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