Thursday, December 02, 2010

Selling the new defence procurement model

Here is one of the first results from the travelling F-35 p.r. roadshow that the government has launched. A news story telling us how useless it is to engage in a competitive process with respect to the largest military procurement in Canadian history: "Global jet bidding futile, military says."
An international bidding competition to buy Canada's next-generation fighter jets would have been a costly exercise in futility, senior military officials said yesterday.

Only Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 met all the criteria required to fulfil the variety of missions Canada's armed forces demanded, said Andre Fillion, director general of major project delivery (air) for the Department of National Defence.
DND drew up requirements for the jet purchase, after consulting DND extensively. Don't ask any questions about it though.
But Canadians can't be told precisely what the top criteria are that made only Lockheed's plane eligible, said Dave Burt, Canada's director for air requirements, because they are "highly classified," and "a question of national security."
In other words, trust DND, no civilian oversight. Which is precisely what the Auditor General warned us against just recently with respect to her examination of major helicopter purchases where DND was found to have been unreliable in its estimates and lacking in proper process:
“The contract award process was not fair, open and transparent,” Fraser told reporters,
Neither is it here. Yet the Auditor General doesn't have a budget to go cross-country and educate the public about her report and proper defence procurement principles. Neither do any of the opposition parties. DND and the Harper government do.

Update: Of course, it's not the role of the Auditor General to promote her findings, just making the point about the p.r. effort going on here and how it in effect can dwarf other view points.