The Security Sector and the DSIS

The Government this week released its Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS), which recognises the UK’s defence and security sectors as strategic capabilities in their own right and promises a ‘virtuous circle’ of industrial policy-making that captures the entire capability development journey.  While many aspects of the DSIS focuses on the defence sector, given the role of government as a monopsony, it also realises the important role that government can play as a market enabler for the security sector and heralds some significant changes across procurement, innovation, exports and skills policy, which have all been identified as policy priorities for the sector.

At the heart of the DSIS, it promises a new approach that recognises the link between national security and prosperity, and therefore the importance of a sustainable defence and security industrial base to achieving the objectives set out in last week’s Integrated Review. To create a healthy basis on which the UK’s security sector can continue to grow and support customers in government (from the security services to law enforcement agencies to research bodies), as well as the wider private sector, the DSIS recognises that there is a need for greater strategic alignment between industry, academia and government on shared objectives and plans for investment. For that reason, the confirmation that the Security and Resilience Growth Partnership (SRGP) will be enhanced in scope and expanded to involve a wider range of departments is highly welcome.

The Government’s new ‘virtuous circle’ recognises that industry policy-making can no longer be conducted in isolation across acquisition and procurement policy; productivity and resilience; technology and ‘pull-through’; and, international cooperation, exports and foreign investment. Accordingly, the Government now intends to give increased transparency about its long-term security priorities, which will help foster investment by industry in R&D. Subsequently this will be accompanied by roadmaps from early research to commercialisation, which will recognise the importance of exports for sustaining capability development. This will be followed by reforms to the public procurement processes, as detailed in the Green Paper on Transforming Public Procurement, to remove barriers to entry to the market for industry, especially SMEs. Finally, the DSIS intends to close the ‘loop’ of the ‘virtuous circle’ with a focus on sustaining key security skills in the UK and helping to strengthening productivity in the sector, which should then maintain the UK’s competitiveness and encourage further investment.

Through the SRGP and other avenues of engagement ADS looks forward to working with its partners in the Home Office, Department for International Trade, Department for Transport and other departments and agencies to take forward the ‘virtuous circle’ agenda via the SRGP and other avenues of engagement.

One other area that ADS will be exploring further with government is the DSIS’s recognition of the need for capability-specific approaches in some strategically important cross-sector and security-specific capability segments. These areas include Offensive Cyber; Crypt-Key; Command, Control, Communications and Computers (C4); the ‘digital backbone’; electromagnetic activity; sensing and detection; and intelligence and communication technologies and systems.

Tomorrow ADS will write about the implications of the DSIS for the UK’s Defence sector. This will be followed by further analysis and posts by ADS in the coming weeks on the detail of the DSIS and IR.