Italian Military Acquisitions Procedures

(Extracted from the non-copyrighted 1999 Ministry of Defense brochure entitled “The Defence Procurement in Italy”)

Two very different procedures must be activated, in order to procure armament materials. The Technical-Operational Area is responsible for one, while the Technical-Administrative Area for the other one.

The procedure flow requires the following steps:

  • evaluation of the threat;
  • definition of the operational requirement, identifying the general characteristic of the system fulfilling the need;
  • definition of the military requirement (staff target), with details of the characteristics and performances of the system, including logistic support, training, etc.;
  • approved funding by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee;
  • recommendation, not binding, by the Parliament Defense Commission;
  • final approval by the Minister of Defense.

The project, together with the Minister’s Act of Approval, is forwarded to the General Secretariat who tasks the General Directorate concerned with the technical-administrative procedure for the procurement.

The main steps require the drafting of the contract and the arrangement for the final signature:

  • drawing up of technical specifications by the General Directorate concerned;
  • call for tenders to the industries;
  • reception of the bids;
  • presentation of the programs to the Parliament with the relevant funding data and further approval;
  • analysis of the bid, arrangement and drafting of the contract;
  • for contracts amounting to more than 10 Mld Ital (6,164,568 Euro):
  • presenting the draft of the contract to a Committee for Acquisition, chaired by the Secretary General for Defense and National Armaments Director;
  • approval by the Committee;
  • the contract is registered by the State Audit Board;
  • the contract is fully effective.

When the Military Requirement is forwarded to the General Directorate concerned, the responsibility for the requirement is shifted to the Technical-Administrative area. The latter can either proceed with a direct off-the-shelf acquisition, or start a development activity if the object of the requirement cannot be satisfied with existing products.

The direct acquisition procedures can have the form either of a competition, in order to identify the companies able to fulfil the requirement, or a direct purchase if there is just one company with the needed relevant capabilities.

In case of the development of new material, usually, as required by NATO acquisition practice, the standard steps are followed:

  • feasibility;
  • project definition;
  • engineering and production.

During the feasibility phase, usually there is the need to identify the industrial technological capability and know-how, arising from specific military needs.

The output of this phase is represented by studies aimed at selecting the best trade-off between performances, costs and development times.

The project-definition phase is aimed at the final product configuration.

The development phase leads to the construction of a prototype responding to the military requirements. The homologation of the material is then eventually concluded.

Later on engineering and production are started. In order to reduce time, usually production is started when development is still underway, after the technical goals are reached, assuring the final reliability of the system. A different approach is followed for the international programs, covering the arrangement and signature of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Countries involved. It is signed by the Minister of Defense or by his delegate, usually the NAD.

This MOU has full legal value for funding obligations and follows the same procedure as that of a contract project.

According to the same procedures implemented by the main EU and global members, Italy is oriented towards an “off-set” policy, even if this is not regulated by law.