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From commercial strategies to kiwis, looking back at 2018

An F-35 landing vertically onto a new landing pad at RAF Marham. The aircraft is a few feet above the ground.
A 617 Sqn F-35B Lightning completing the first vertical landing at its new home of RAF Marham following the installation of the first pad. Flying the F-35 is Wing Commander Butcher, Officer Commanding 617 Sqn. [Crown Copyright/MOD 2018]
2018 has been a busy year for DIO. Let's take a look back at some of the major successes for the year.

January to March

Back in January, the new Commercial Strategy was published. It sets out DIO’s vision for future ways of working with suppliers in the soft and hard facilities management, construction and property advisory sectors. The aim of the strategy is to increase supplier numbers and create a competitive supply base that offers greater opportunities to Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) as well as larger suppliers.

Commenting on the release of the strategy, Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer said: “It is important that we build a strong and broad supply chain for Government contracts and by giving certainty and transparency to the market we ensure value for money for the taxpayer and a vibrant economy.” The Commercial Strategy paved the way for the Procurement Plan to be published later in the year.

In February, the former Minister for Defence Procurement, Guto Bebb MP, opened the Atlas Aircraft Hangar, which DIO built at RAF Brize Norton. The £70m hangar is large enough to contain three of the RAF’s new Atlas transport aircraft. DIO Project Manager Denis Williams said: “It was a challenging project, especially given that work took place close to a live runway and within an operational RAF base!”

An A400M aircraft inside one of the large spaces in the enormous A400M hangar at Brize Norton.
An A400m in the new hangar at RAF Brize Norton [Crown Copyright/MOD 2017]
In March, BBC Magazine featured ‘Wildlife in a Warzone’ which focused on wildlife on the Salisbury Plain Training Area and, on World Water Day it was reported that DIO has reduced MOD water usage across the estate by 788 Olympic swimming pools worth.

April to June

Infrastructure funding decisions moved to DIO’s customers in April as part of Future DIO. This made Front Line Commands responsible for their infrastructure funding and prioritisation. Chief Executive Graham Dalton said: “We’re starting to see some real benefits. I’ve been around a few sites and I can see customers, the TLBs (top level budget holders), the frontline commands who have really brought in to delegation.”

June saw a significant milestone in DIO’s £250m work to prepare RAF Marham for the RAF’s new F-35s, with the arrival of the first aircraft. This followed the completion of the resurfacing of the second runway by DIO. The next-generation fighter jets arrived at the base two months ahead of schedule.

The Bulford Kiwi from the air, showing its white chalk figure, facing to the right, against the green hillside together with the letters "NZ" also in chalk. [Crown copyright, MOD 2018]
Aerial photo of Bulford Kiwi [Crown copyright, MOD 2018]
Also in June, DIO worked with partners Landmarc Support Services (Landmarc), the Army, the New Zealand High Commission and local volunteers to restore a historic kiwi carved into the chalk on Beacon Hill, above the town of Bulford in Wiltshire.  Affectionately known as the ‘Bulford Kiwi’, it was created in 1919 by soldiers from New Zealand at the end of World War I as they awaited their return home.

July to September

DIO Head of Accommodation, Air Commodore Wendy Rothery, visited Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in August for the unveiling of 34 newly-refurbished Service family homes in Helensburgh. She was joined by Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, and Captain Craig Mearns, HMNB Clyde's Captain of the Base, as well as the DIO team and industry partners who delivered the works. DIO led the £1.5m refurbishment at Bannachra Drive in Helensburgh. The extensive upgrade works were carried out by Amey and contractor Bells Ltd and included the fitting of new roofs, windows and doors, as well as new boilers, external wall insulation and rendering of the buildings.

Wendy Rothery, Craig Mearns, David Mundell and others pose by a sign reading "Bannachra Drive" in front of some of the refurbished homes.
Wendy Rothery, with Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, Captain of HMNB Clyde Craig Mearns and others, outside the newly refurbished homes at Bannachra Drive in Helensburgh.

In September, DIO invited suppliers to bid for its new Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) contracts. The FDIS contracts will provide facilities management services across the UK defence estate, replacing existing arrangements when they come to an end.

In October, DIO successfully upgraded the point at which the electricity supply from Cyprus enters RAF Akrotiri. Work included installing an 8km-long high-voltage electricity cable and a new intake sub-station building. Stuart Ellington, Overseas Area Project Manager for Cyprus and Gibraltar, said: “It was important to complete the upgrade to help improve the resilience and reliability of Akrotiri’s ageing power supply, help meet the increasing demands of electricity associated with running a modern-day RAF station that supports operations in the Middle East, as well as deliver services that support the military and civilians who live and work here.”

October to December

DIO Chief Executive Graham Dalton, and Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, hosted the 28th annual Sanctuary Awards at the MOD’s Main Building in November. The top prize, the coveted Silver Otter and Heritage Award, was presented to Exercise MAGWITCH for their work in recovering skeletons of those who died on 18th and 19th century prison ships on Rat (Burrow) Island, Portsmouth.

Finally, the DIO commercial team held its annual conference early in December and, for the first-time, customers were invited to share their experiences with the team. DIO’s Commercial Director Jacqui Rock said: “It was really important that this year we bring our customers, the Front-Line Commands, in to talk to you and to let you know what impact the work you do every day has on these individuals. DIO is essential to them being able to live, work, train and deploy.”

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