National Defence, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General

March 2011“The Department of National Defence stands behind the estimates that we have communicated publicly,” said Dan Ross, assistant deputy minister for materiel. He said those costs are based on millions of pages of detailed figures — some of them commercially sensitive — that have been calculated over a decade. He refused to explain those numbers to reporters, just as he had refused to do so when the report’s authors made such a request.

TodayThe 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 … In March 2011, National Defence responded publicly to the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s report. This response did not include estimated operating, personnel, or ongoing training costs (Exhibit 2.6). Also, we observed that National Defence told parliamentarians that cost data provided by US authorities had been validated by US experts and partner countries, which was not accurate at the time. At the time of its response, National Defence knew the costs were likely to increase but did not so inform parliamentarians.