I wasn't completely sure where this should go as it applies to all arms of the armed forces.
( moderator feel free to move it)
Here is the link to the articlehttp://www.canada.com/trail/story.html?id=40daf4f3-f771-46e6-966b-72798ef9feed
Politics contributed to poor shape of sub
Thursday, February 10, 2005
OTTAWA (CP) -- The ill-fated Chicoutimi and three sister submarines might have been in better shape if Canada's protracted and politicized procurement process had not left them rotting for years at British docks, a Commons committee heard Thursday.
"We're all fed up with how long it takes to buy major equipment around here,'' Pat O'Brien, chairman of the Commons defence committee, said after witnesses suggested politics contributed to the deterioration of the subs.
"It is ridiculously slow to get military equipment purchased in this country.''
The all-party committee is studying acquisition of the used diesel-electric submarines from Britain after a sailor died as a result of a fire aboard Chicoutimi during her first transatlantic voyage under Canadian command last fall.
Politicization of the procurement process is emerging as the major issue surrounding the $800-million lease-to-purchase plan cabinet first approved in 1995.
MPs have been told the boats were in bad shape when Canada finally bought them in 1998. Witnesses have described leaks, electrical problems and equipment malfunctions, largely, they said, attributable to years of neglect.
In December, former defence minister David Collenette said the subs corroded for three years after the purchase was approved because then-prime minister Jean Chretien considered the idea politically unpalatable.
Prof. Martin Shadwick, an expert in military procurement from York University, told the panel Thursday the British might have better cared for the vessels if they had known how long it would take Canada to take possession of them.
He also said the lag time between decommissioning Canada's old subs and bringing the new ones into service eroded the navy's undersea expertise and training regimen.
If Canada had begun looking for a new army jeep in September 1939 at the rate it moves today, Shadwick said it would not have taken delivery of the vehicles before the war ended in May 1945.
"Sadly, it seems in many cases we've concluded that the quickest way to speed up procurement in this country is not to buy anything at all,'' said Shadwick.
During the tender process for the 1980s purchase of CF-18 fighter jets, only 25 per cent of the specifications focused on the military's technical and operational requirements for the aircraft, Shadwick said.
The other three-quarters of the data the government released to bidders related to industrial benefits, offsets, job creation and technology transfer, he said.
"Right there in a nutshell is the problem,'' Shadwick said. "We've overly politicized this.''
While constitutionally the country can never take politics completely out of defence procurement, Canada has "pushed this further than, perhaps, most countries,'' he said.
"At a time when our defence dollars are even more tightly rationed, the fact that we take a decade, a decade-and-a-half to purchase very simple equipment is cause for sheer disbelief, if nothing else.''
Alberta Conservative MP Rick Casson said all agree the procurement process is "unbelievably long'' and the submarine procurement took too much time.
New Democrat Bill Blaikie, who called for the hearings in the first place, described Canada's military procurement practices as "embarrassing.'' He asked Shadwick for advice on how the country could depoliticize the process.
Shadwick said it's tough to fix because the issue goes to the very core of Canadian values and principles.
Canadians tend not to think about the military's strategic requirements and the need to make "prompt, efficient decisions'' on purchases.
"Instead we turn them into job-creation projects of one sort or another.
"The underlying problem is the strategic culture of the country, we don't have a strategic culture of the country,'' he said.
Shadwick said military procurement is not hampered only by politics: It could be speeded by cutting paperwork, "interminable'' meetings and other bureaucratic processes.
"I would aim for a multi-layered attack on the problem dealing within DND and the Forces, the other government departments, and the political level.''
© Canadian Press 2005