By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 28, 2013 - 0 Comments
The Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report on the government’s shipbuilding plans is here.
The short version is that the government’s estimates might be off by about $1.5 billion.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 9:45 AM - 0 Comments
The Defence Department had received government approval in 2009 to move forward with the $430 million purchase of 1,500 off-the-shelf medium-sized trucks. But in subsequent years department and military officials began adding more capabilities to what they wanted in the vehicles, bumping the estimated cost to between $730 million and $800 million. And in an unprecedented move DND officials continued on with the acquisition without going back to Treasury Board for approval to cover the extra $300 million to $370 million in costs, according to industry, military and government representatives.
When Treasury Board and Conservative government officials discovered what was happening they intervened, shutting down the project last week just minutes before bidding was to close. The decision to take such action was aimed at avoiding another publicly embarrassing military procurement for the Conservatives.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 24, 2011 at 10:36 AM - 4 Comments
Donald Savoie considers the new process that oversaw the latest round of shipbuilding procurement.
The process is not without implications. The anonymous public servant central to the doctrine of ministerial responsibility took a back seat. François Guimont, deputy minister of public works, was front and centre before the cameras not only explaining the process but also declaring who the winners were. Politicians were nowhere to be seen in the $33-billion announcement. Indeed, the first politician to appear on camera was an opposition MP applauding the process and declaring victory. Prime ministers and cabinet ministers of eras past must have given their heads a shake at the sight.
The process also raises a number of fundamental questions. What if we discover down the road that the process or the decision was flawed? Who will be responsible and answerable before Parliament? The minister or the deputy minister?
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM - 26 Comments
The Scene. First, the unquestionably good news.
“Mr. Speaker, today, myself, the NDP shipbuilding critic from Sackville-Eastern Shore, and all New Democrats celebrate with the workers of Nova Scotia and British Columbia,” Nycole Turmel informed the House.
Alas, this is Question Period and so this much would not suffice.
“But for other workers,” Ms. Turmel continued, “yesterday’s announcement came up $2 billion short. Instead of announcing the full $35 billion in contracts, the government picked winners and losers. The Prime Minister left major shipyards like Davie vulnerable. Why?”
The NDP leader’s lament was not well received.
“This is your angle?” begged James Moore from the government frontbench.
“You’re the loser!” cried a voice from the near corner of the Conservative side. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 1:24 PM - 70 Comments
The Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates a total price tag of $29.3-billion for new fighter jets.
The PBO has estimated the total program cost—including acquisition and ongoing sustainment—to be US$ 29.3 billion. Divided over 65 aircraft, this results in a cost of approximately US$ 450 million per aircraft in FY 2009 dollars.
There is continuing speculation as to the final average acquisition cost per aircraft. It would appear that Lockheed Martin remains confident that the average cost will come down. However, it is not immediately obvious, given the available evidence, how the cost can be reduced to estimates predicted by Lockheed Martin over 10 years ago. Not only do such figures not resemble the PBO’s costs estimates, but they are considerably lower than the forecasts issued by the DOD organizations, such as the CAPE and the GAO. The Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) published by the DOD shows an average unit production cost of US$ 91 million per aircraft. Being of the view that the program was in even worse shape, NAVAIR’s analysts under Vice Admiral David Venlet predict an average unit cost of US$ 128 million. Unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary, it is difficult to see prices reducing to their original estimated level.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 4:48 PM - 21 Comments
Carl Meyer questions the latest claim of classified information.
… the department has continued to hide the document from public view, saying in an email that “an Air Force project’s Statement of Operational Requirements is an internal Department of National Defence document.” ”SORs are classified documents” that are “not disclosed publicly,” added spokesperson Evan Koronewski.
However, those claims don’t appear to hold water as the government’s own publicly accessible website currently hosts at least four of these types of documents, three of which explicitly state that they are unclassified. One such document even concerns another recent Air Force equipment purchase.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, October 29, 2010 at 12:59 PM - 0 Comments
CP discovers concerns about another multi-billion-dollar defence purchase.
In a report likely to add more fuel to the fire over the multibillion-dollar military helicopter mess and the purchase of stealth fighters, the department’s Chief of Review Services found oversight lacking in the $3-billion Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue project…
The Forces’ own internal auditor warns it was on the same shaky ground as the helicopters. ”Within each phase of DND risk management methodology, certain risk management practices were not in place in the project office,” said the May 2009 review, obtained by The Canadian Press under the federal access-to-information law.
On the F-35 debate, John Geddes has posted his conversation with Lieutenant-General Angus Watt. And to that you can add the views of former assistant deputy minister Alan Williams (at the 18-minute mark of that video) and Liberal senator Colin Kenny, not to mention the previous submissions of Steven Staples and Paul Mitchell.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 6:50 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Flirting dangerously with a public demonstration of intellect, Ralph Goodale opened with a reference to Einstein. “The definition of insanity,” Mr. Goodale mused, referring to the father of modern physics, “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
This could’ve been understood as a comment on most of the actors in our political process, but in this case was apparently intended as a reference to the Prime Minister. ”In the case of the Chinook military helicopters, the Conservative sole-sourced, untendered, non-competitive process caused overruns of 100 percent and at least five years delay. The Auditor General says that fiasco could well be repeated on the F-35 purchase; sole-sourced, untendered, non-competitive,” the Liberal deputy continued. “Why will the government not listen to Sheila Fraser, define the specifications and get competitive bids?”
The Prime Minister stood here to dismiss this. “Mr. Speaker, of course, nothing could be further from the tooth,” he shrugged, quickly correctly himself to say “truth.” Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 6:44 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. The Prime Minister is a busy man and so he cannot always attend to the House. His appearance today, for instance, was his first in a week. And this, it seemed, was long overdue—not so much for us, this place and our democracy, but for him. Indeed, judging from his subsequent behavior he arrived quite pent up, needing very much, from a spiritual perspective, to openly air his concerns and grievances.
This is perhaps the best way to understand the man’s outbursts—as a natural and necessary unburdening, a shouty rebalancing of his chakras. So let us think of this as somehow healthy. If only so that we might say these proceedings serve some purpose.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 6:45 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. Demonstrating fine posture, Siobhan Coady stood straight, if not tall, along the back row of the opposition side and, in a tone of disbelief, reported the day’s findings of the auditor general.
“Mr. Speaker, today the Auditor General has revealed that the Conservatives caused an avalanche of problems, delays and cost overruns in acquiring 15 Chinook helicopters,” she lamented. “They essentially sole-sourced the deal without telling Public Works why. They identified the operational requirements only after announcing the procurement. They provided a cost estimate to the Treasury Board that they know was too low. As a result the Auditor General is warning of a billion dollar operating budget crunch at DND. The Conservatives broke every rule in the book.”
Ms. Coady then concluded with the most damning of open-ended questions—”Why?” Continue…