Department of Defence’s purchasing process broken, says budget watchdog

The Department of Defence’s buying processes is broken and wrong, says parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page. He made the comments in an interview with the CBC’s Evan Solomon on Thursday after having testified at a committee in Ottawa, saying that his office did not receive information requested from the Department of Defence on the government’s expected costs for the life cycle of the F-35 jets considered to replace Canada’s aging Cf-18 fleet.

From the National Post:

“Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that the Department of National Defence provided the PBO with figures that did not include all operating costs,” Page told members of the public accounts committee.

“The PBO understood that it had been provided with full life-cycle costs from DND as required.”

Those operating costs — which have been estimated at about $10 billion over 20 years — have become central to the question of whether Canadians were misled about the fighter jet in March 2011, weeks before the last federal election.

In a separate announcement on Thursday, the minister in charge of the defence file, Peter McKay, ordered changes to the operations of the Canadian Forces, in an effort to cut military costs. Field operations, both domestic and international, have now been merged under one Canadian Joint Operations Command, according to a source within the Defence Department quoted by the Globe and Mail.

From the Globe and Mail:

Three existing commands will be merged: CEFCOM, the expeditionary command which directs overseas operations like the Afghanistan mission or the Libya air strikes; Canada Command, in charge of domestic defence and all North American operations such as navy drug interdiction patrols; and CANOSCOM, the logistics command responsible for getting ammunition and supplies to troops in the field.

Each of those three commands not only has a senior general in charge, but a separate headquarters in Ottawa to run it. The merger is aimed at slicing about 25 per cent of the “overhead” for each command, although it is not yet clear how many staff jobs, military or civilian, will be cut.