Vanguard Magazine

Aug/Sep 2013

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Procurement P We're not handing away the Minister's or the military's accountabilities. What we've tried to do is bring together those people who manage those accountabilities. Some of the individual department objectives of how to get there are a bit different, and can create some dynamic tension, but I think that is expected. As a former project manager for major projects, I can tell you that getting time with senior folks to make a decision was always a challenge. Where we have secretariats, we've really changed the dynamic. At times it is more work, but in my almost 35-year career it is the first time I've observed that monthly phenomenon where we have directors general coming together, assistant deputy ministers coming together, deputy ministers coming together to talk about these things. Ten years ago, when I was managing a major crown project, the idea of getting multiple deputy ministers in the room for me to stand in front of and say, "here is where I am, here are my challenges, here's what I need" – it was unheard of. Now our project managers or their bosses are seeing it every four to six weeks. Q Has that changed the relationship among the key departments? Are the processes any smoother? industry to be ready to help us. We often have discussions about whether it costs more to build in Canada. And my counter from a shipbuilding perspective is, yes, but how often do you ask us if it is more expensive to not support it in Canada? It's not just about getting the acquisition cost right, it's about getting the through-life cost right. If you get the acquisition cheap but need twice the crew and it's half as reliable and the through-life costs you twice the money, that's not where you need to be. Having defence industry in Canada ready to step up and help us deliver and support Canada First Defence Strategy is actually an operational requirement. Q Is the ADM(Mat) role primarily to facilitate defence procurement or do you also have a clear challenge function to statements of requirements, costs, etc? For anybody who is working in the procurement game, it's not an 'or', it has to be an 'and'. There has to be a challenge function. Some might perceive that as a challenge to their work, but it's really about making sure we get it right. Finding out we have a problem 2-3 years into things means we all suffer the consequences. We tell everybody, you need to make sure you are challenging what we are doing in a classic project management paradigm of time-cost-scope. As we translate a statement of requirements from a technical authority perspective, for example, we need the operational community to provide the challenge function to ensure we have not gone down a different path; Public Works to ensure it is contractible; our chief financial officer to ensure it is affordable. For the major crown projects I think it has. Has it made the relationship any smoother? I would have described it as always quite positive. There are points of friction in any workplace. In National Defence, at times, there is friction between requirements and the technical authority. That human dynamic will always exist. Whether the secretariat is the best approach is something we are looking at, but it has brought focus to these programs. Again, what I see at assistant deputy minister level and above is real ownership of these programs and the need to deliver. I see that as a positive step. Q Under Dan Ross, ADM(Mat) began a process to Q Some in industry have responded positively to the regular emphasize performance-based procurement and single point of accountability. Is that still your focus or have needs changed? consultation now conducted by the secretariats. Do you see a change in industry engagement? We could always engage industry and I think we always did early on, but it may have been ad hoc. It is a very different dynamic now. As you saw in Budget 2013, there is work across the whole spectrum of procurement; there are lots of improvements to be made and we are trying to look at the complete spectrum. But we have to have the right probity and oversight, so there are now third-party validation of requirements and things like that. Where we have had some successes we are trying to grab the best practices; where we have had some struggles we are looking at them and trying to improve. Q Has the Jenkins report, especially its emphasis on sustaining key industrial capabilities, affected your role yet? It is something we, Public Works and Industry Canada are working on. The direction is clear, so now it's about how we implement it. Public Works is responsible for the defence industrial base from a capability standpoint and Industry Canada from an economic one; we don't do industrial capability per se – though we have a role to play there – but selfishly we have a desire for If Dan were sitting here today, he'd probably say the vision is performance-based logistics, and there is an understanding that it's not one-size-fits-all – it can't be. Our desire is to be cuttingedge in leveraging what our allies have done, and performancebased where we can be, recognizing there are areas where we will have to be somewhat prescriptive. Most of our acquisitions will probably always be a bit of a blend. For example, with ships, we have tried to move away from these very weighty specifications, but there are areas where we are still prescriptive, long-term reliability pieces where it's hard to be performance-based and where if you are not careful you can find yourself paying an incredible premium on through-life. But our aim continues to be as performance-based as we can. Q One of your bigger challenges has been sufficient project management personnel for all these large and complex programs. Do you have enough people and expertise? The size of the programs that we are moving out on causes challenges in having all the right competencies of people, but it's a challenge I really like having. It's not the challenge of budgets AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2013 31

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