Auditor general turns attention to feds’ $35-billion shipbuilding plan [links added]
Months after his scathing F-35 report shook the Harper government’s plans to buy the stealth fighter, Auditor General Michael Ferguson has turned his attention to another military procurement project: the Harper government’s $35-billion shipbuilding plan.
Ferguson’s report on the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is due in fall 2013 and — depending on what he finds — could be far more explosive than the F-35.
Ferguson’s office isn’t saying much about what exactly the study will look at.
“When determining what to audit, the office focuses on the areas in which federal government organizations face the highest risk,” spokesman Ghislain Desjardins said in an email. “Examples of high-risk areas are those that cost taxpayers significant amounts of money or that could threaten the health and safety of Canadians if something were to go wrong. Acquiring military ships … is one of those areas.”
…amid problems with the F-35 stealth fighter program and other military purchases, the Conservative government has held up the shipbuilding strategy as an important success for military procurement and a means to leverage tax dollars into massive economic spinoffs.
But there have been repeated indications that the strategy is in danger of running aground [see the posts here]— which would have military, economic and political ramifications far greater than those associated with the F-35…
Parliament Budget Officer Kevin Page is examining what financial implications the joint support ship project [more here] will have on the federal government, with a report expected early next year.
Page is also planning to do a similar examination of the Arctic vessels project [more here]…
As far as I can see there is no way the planned ships can be built on time or on budget, since this government (as any other would) insists they be built by Canadian shipyards that are simply not going to be up to the job for some time to come–if ever. Moreover the government bureaucracy itself is ill-equipped to manage things:
There’s a real shipwreck in the making. I do not believe the number of planned ships, with the intended capabilities, can be afforded if the government insists on continuing its current approach. In particular, from the end of an earlier post:
…the RCN’s Canadian Surface Combatant plans, if carried out, would likely eat the other services’ budget lunches [$41 billion for acquisition of 15 CSCs and in-service support! and that figure is doubtless unrealistic]…
Maybe a different mix of vessels should replace the current destroyers and frigates, see end of this post. The government should be asking if its defence policy requires that the RCN maintain a large blue water fleet. But this government is unwilling to ask–or answer–those fundamental questions about what the things the Canadian Forces are realistically supposed to be able to do, and what it is willing to pay to maintain and equip the CF to be able to do those things effectively and efficiently.
Mark Collins is a prolific Ottawa blogger
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