Almost two thirds of Canadian defence projects ‘late’

20 January 2016

A Canadian fighter jet. © 123RF

More than 63% of Canada’s major defence procurement projects are late despite an increase in the military procurement budget, a report has found.

The University of Calgary’s Public School of Policy examined 59 active procurement programmes in the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and found projects such as future pilot training and weapons upgrades were behind schedule.

Just over one third (34%) were on schedule and 3% were early, although one project was forced to “align with an external pressure” because it was part of a multinational consortium, according to the report 2015 Status Report on Major Defence Equipment Procurements.

The delayed projects were due to a lack of adequate staff resources to progress projects according to their schedules.

In addition, many projects were not included in the Department of National Defence’s 2014 investment plan, meaning they cannot be approved as fully funded projects.

Interdependence between projects also causes delays. A number of the RCAF’s projects are related to the management of Canada’s existing fleet of fighter jets and the acquisition of future fighter jets, a project delayed since 2012.

The report’s author David Perry, senior analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, added that Canada’s recent general election campaign slowed down the procurement process, with the Department of National Defence and other federal departments unable to secure approvals for procurement projects until the new cabinet was announced in November.

“Frustrating and disappointing delays have long been a matter of course in Canada’s defence procurement process,” he said. “In 2014-15, the number of ministerial or Treasury Board approvals to allow projects to proceed was half of that in 2009-10. Yet the demand for approvals has not abated.

“An irony here is that the military budget for procurement has increased,” he added. “Between 2004 and 2009 the Defence Department’s procurement budget nearly doubled. But the funding was never matched by the capacity to manage it.”

The Department of Defence did not respond to a request for comment.

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