Dumbing down the ORO course by removing the Mega phase to make course more attractive (to increase the pool of OROs) did nothing to increase my confidence in the RCN.
The removal of the Mega was one of the changes that the Naval Personnel Training Group made as part of their "modernization" of naval training. It was not about dumbing down the course, but that they decided that it was difficult to objectively assess a student when the majority of the Ops team for their watch were also students with varying performance levels.
Do you fail an ORO student who had a rough run, but a couple of their key support personnel torpedoed them through poor performance and/or not providing critical information? The answer to that question was essentially up the whims of the assessor, but was often yes.
The rumour mill tells me that the Mega is returning, but understandably it will take some time to re-sync 5+ individual training courses that are currently running independently.
In the interim though, a Mega-style assessment of similar duration and intensity still exists for the ORO course. The remainder of the other Ops Rm positions are just filled by qualified members within the Fleet. This is a double-edged sword, as certain specific positions are hard to find these days, and a random CFTPO who's not being assessed may not have as much skin in the game.
As an aside, I do think there are circumstances where more objectivity in assessments is certainly a good thing. Take for example the NOPQ Board. Every candidate going to one of those boards has already been deemed competent by their CO and is running the Bridge at sea. I know of a few cases where a strong candidate failed the board simply because the Board Chair decided that they didn't meet a subjective standard of boardsmanship or "Command Presence", and the candidate is thus delayed promotion to Lt(N) and career progression for 6 months.
I would rather see fewer, highly capable OROs than a larger pool of mediocre ones....
The bigger issue here in my mind is that the RCN considers the ORO course and tour to be a prerequisite for promotion to LCdr and most staff billets held by NWOs. While selection for the course is merit-based, time in rank is a contributing factor and quite frequently NWOs across the Navy who do not have the specific competencies or desire to do the job or to assume Command in the future are selected for the course. They then often go to a low-tempo ship and count their days until they can get promoted and go ashore forever. This also clogs up the pipeline for competent personnel behind them who want to do the job, but need to wait their turn for the machine to turn up their number.
IMO, the NWO community needs to publicly admit to itself that a) the ORO/XO/CO job sucks a lot of the time, and b) that there are lots of NWOs out there who are net contributors to the organization but who may not have either the very specific competencies to succeed as OROs/XOs/COs or for a variety of personal or family reasons may not want to go down that road.
I suspect that one of the reasons we may not have gotten there yet is that if promotion criteria to LCdr was independent of an ORO tour, and the community was able to be upfront with the Career Managers about their career aspirations, it may bring up some unfortunate truths about how few actually want to go down that road. This is just my suspicion though, with no data to support it.