About that documentation

One last point on the Defence Minister’s comments this weekend. Nearer the end of the interview, Kevin Newman asked Mr. MacKay about the “supporting documents” for the military’s analysis. Mr. MacKay reassured Mr. Newman.

There are certainly supporting documents. We’ll have Public Accounts look at that now. They’ll be officials before Public Accounts to talk about the supporting documents. There are documents that go back a number of years, as I said this is a 15-year procurement that began in 1997 under the previous Liberal government. And so there will an opportunity to look at all those documents. The key here, in my view, is to continue forward in a way that is going to ensure that we don’t face operational gaps. That the CF-18’s will be replaced with an aircraft that will meet the needs of our country and, most particularly, of the airforce.

In his report, the Auditor General makes several references to documentation (emphasis mine).

On risk assessment:

However, there is no documentation indicating how the risks were determined and analyzed. Consequently, we have no basis to determine if the risk assessments are complete and appropriate under the circumstances.

On selecting the F-35:

Also in 2008, National Defence undertook an options analysis of three contender aircraft against the high-level mandatory capabilities. These included the F-35, which was still under development at the time. This analysis concluded that, while all three aircraft could meet the high-level mandatory capabilities, the F-35 offered the “best value” because it provided “exceptional capability at the lowest cost and unparalleled benefits for the Canadian aerospace industry.” This analysis became pivotal to the decision-making process. The conclusions were presented to senior decision makers. There was no documentation supporting the analysis and conclusions.

On cost:

To date, there have been two key announcements regarding the budget for replacing the CF-18s: the May 2008 Canada First Defence Strategy and the July 2010 announcement of the F-35 purchase. The Canada First Defence Strategy established a budget of CAN$9 billion to acquire 65 next generation fighter aircraft. This budget figure was subsequently included in National Defence’s 2009 Investment Plan. It was also carried forward into decision documents to support the July 2010 announcement. Also in 2008, a budget of CAN$16 billion was established to operate and sustain the F-35 over 20 years. These budgets were based on estimates provided by National Defence, yet there is no documented analysis to show how they were developed.