§ Mr. Matthew Banks
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about defence agency status for the Defence Codification Authority. 
§ Mr. Soames
I am pleased to report that the Defence Codification Authority became a defence agency of the Ministry of Defence on 17 June 1996. The aim of the DCA is to maximise the benefits of the NATO codification system by uniquely describing every item in the NATO inventory, thereby increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of logistics systems and operations, promoting interoperability and interchangeability, while reducing duplication and waste. The DCA currently has a staff of 161 civilians mainly based at Anderston, Glasgow with a small complement of staff at Didcot, Oxfordshire. The owner of the DCA will be Air Officer Communications and Information Systems at Headquarters Logistics Command, Brampton and its chief executive will be Mr. Ken Bradshaw.
The chief executive has been set the following key targets for the first year of operation:
- 1. To complete an annual policy evaluation by September 1996 and establish future policy direction to reflect strategic initiatives in NATO and the MOD.
- 2. To increase the rate at which the number of duplicate NATO stock numbers (NSNs) are eliminated by 0.15 per cent. of the total number of NSNs.
- 3. To extend the DCA's NSN database file purification service to the Army and RAF by March 1997.
- 4. To let a development contract for the item of supply information system ISIS2, by July 1996.
- 5. To install a financial management information system to meet HM Treasury accounts direction by March 1997.
- 6. To reduce the DCA's unit cost of NSN codification, assuming forecast levels of demand, to less than £61.
- 7. To reduce agency running costs by 5 per cent.
- 8. To reduce the number of post-codification queries to less than 14,000.
- 9. To define an acceptable quality level for inclusion in contracts with external suppliers by September 1996.
I am arranging for copies of the agency's framework document to be placed in the Library of the House.