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CAN Auditor General: DND Needs to Look at Rules for Buying Vehicles Quickly

The Bread Guy

Staff member
Directing Staff
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The conclusion from the report issued today - highlights mine:
5.84 Our audit examined four urgent vehicle acquisitions for use in Afghanistan. We found that the three vehicles that have been deployed to Afghanistan, according to National Defence, have met operational needs. However, not all the projects have delivered all the required capabilities and National Defence has had to make adjustments.

5.85 Unlike non-urgent acquisitions, the Armoured Patrol Vehicle (RG-31), the Leopard 2 Tank replacement project, and the Armoured Heavy Support Vehicle System (AHSVS) project were procured and delivered quickly and, in the opinion of National Defence, have contributed to the safeguarding of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. However, the Light Armoured Vehicle Remote Weapon System (LAV RWS) project is nearly two years behind the original schedule and will cost at least double what the government was first told.

5.86 The two competitive processes that we audited were successful in contracting the needed vehicles in a timely manner and in complying with all rules that apply to contracting. However, we did find some problems with contracting roles and responsibilities, information given to senior officials, and contract administration. Given the urgent operational requirements of National Defence, the problems we saw in the competitive processes were somewhat understandable.

5.87 National Defence should examine its Project Approval Guide to determine how acquisitions can be managed so that urgently needed equipment can be acquired in a timely manner while respecting accepted project management principles. We found that the documentation required for these urgent projects was not produced in a manner that complies with the Department’s own Guide.

5.88 In order to use new equipment, there must be adequate training. In one project, the Department underestimated the need for vehicles that could be used for training. This means that the number of vehicles available for operations will be significantly reduced.

5.89 While our audit found that three projects slipped behind schedule, we recognize that the timelines were ambitious. We found that some projects, such as the RG-31, which was in production, can be quickly delivered to where they are needed. Other projects, such as the LAV RWS that involve development work, require more time to plan. When this need for planning time is not respected, the project may fall short in meeting operational needs and also suffer cost overruns. In our opinion, given the significant development work in the LAV RWS project, it should have been managed more rigorously in accordance with National Defence’s Project Approval Guide.

5.90 It is important that Treasury Board ministers have the information they need to make good decisions. While we found that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat exercised its challenge function, we also found that it missed some important issues related to these projects. As well, National Defence did not disclose all relevant information.

New tanks hobbled by glitches and lack of spares
The Canadian Press
Date: Tuesday Nov. 3, 2009

OTTAWA  — The Canadian army was forced to park some its new battle tanks in Afghanistan soon after they arrived because of technical glitches, says Auditor General Sheila Fraser.

In order to get the Leopard 2 A6M tanks back in the field, mechanics scrambled to strip parts off other armoured vehicles in the war zone and off tanks meant for training, said Fraser's latest report, released Tuesday.

Her office examined more than $1 billion in urgent purchases for the war in Afghanistan.

"Our audit found that soon after deployment, a portion of the new tank fleet could not be used due to equipment failure," says the report.

"The problem was compounded by a shortage of spare parts. While normally considered a last resort, Task Force Afghanistan almost immediately began taking parts from tanks on site in Afghanistan and from tanks National Defence had bought for troops training in Canada in order to make the necessary repairs."

A series of fierce battles and increasingly bigger roadside bombs forced the army to deploy a squadron of old Leopard 1 tanks to Kandahar in the fall of 2006, but commanders quickly found their age and lack of air conditioning in the desert to a liability.

The Conservative government announced in April 2007 that it would spend $650 million on an urgent plan to field new battle tanks.

The first phase of the project involved borrowing 20 modern Leopard 2A6 tanks, specially outfitted to protect against mine blasts, from the Germans.

It also announced the planned purchase of 100 surplus tanks from the Dutch, a mixture of top level A6 models and older A4 types that former defence minister Gordon O'Connor said would have to be upgraded to meet modern standards.

The project, which Fraser found to be two years behind schedule, was considered paramount in safeguarding the lives of Canadian soldiers.

Tanks are useful not only for protection against mines, but in offensive operations where the heavy gun is especially helpful in punching through the thick mud-walled compounds favoured by the Taliban as fortified redoubts.

In addition to the technical problems with the borrowed tanks, Fraser's audit found it took National Defence six months to get the urgently needed vehicles into theatre.

In addition, the complicated loan arrangement with the Germans has meant that Canada's training tanks are still in Europe and soldiers in need of training must go there before going to Kandahar.

This is "creating additional cost and inefficiencies," said the report.

The federal government has subsequently capped the amount of money to upgrade the tanks purchased from the Dutch.

"National Defence will not be able to upgrade all tanks to the desired level," said Fraser's report.

"The result is that the training fleet will consist of a different model tank than the deployed fleet -- a situation the Canadian Forces considers less than ideal."

The audit looked at three other urgent purchases, including mine-clearing trucks and RG-31 Nyala armoured patrol vehicles.

Fraser said those purchases -- totalling $465 million -- went smoothly but there was an absence of proper paperwork.