Tories accused of bungling another military purchase
John Size, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, April 29, 2012 10:57PM EDT
A $2-billion procurement contract for about 100 new Close Combat Vehicles for the military has been restarted after the latest bids didn't meet technical requirements, a Conservative MP says.
The decision prompted opposition parties to accuse the government and defence bureaucrats of bungling yet another large procurement contract for the military, citing the recent F-35 fighter jet controversy.
B.C. Tory MP Andrew Saxton, a member of the public accounts committee, told CTV Question Period Sunday none of the vehicles "met the standard requirements to do the job."
Companies bidding on the contract were told Friday they would have to resubmit their proposals under new criteria.
It's the second time in less than a year the proposed vehicles were rejected by the Department of National Defence.
NDP defence critic Jack Harris said it's another example of government incompetence when it comes to large-scale purchases for the armed forces.
"They say they're going to buy an off-the-shelf piece of equipment because it's cheaper and therefore they can get it approved, and then they go and look at them and decide they want to actually modify things," he told Question Period from St. John's, Nfld.
"The auditor general previously told them this is wrong, they didn't follow their own rules and the same thing has happened here," he said Sunday.
The Close Combat Vehicle (CCV) program was announced in 2009. The military wants to purchase about 108 of the CCVs, with an option to buy an additional 30, and use them to accompany Leopard tanks in future combat missions.
Saxton said the new round of bidding proves the government's procurement system is working.
"That's what we have to do to make sure we get the right equipment for our men and women in uniform and to make sure the process remains open and fair," he said.
He denied there was any attempt at bid-rigging in the DND and said again the vehicles didn't meet the requirements of the army.
Liberal Defence critic John McKay said he's baffled as to why the Conservative government couldn't get the procurement process correct in the first place.
"The requirements should have been stated in 2010 or thereabouts and then you do your bidding process after that," he told Question Period from Toronto.
"Each and every procurement, whether it's helicopters, ships, or whether it's airplanes and now close combat vehicles, is in some sort of state of chaos," McKay said.
The Conservative government has been hammered over the past several months for its planned purchase of new fighter jets to replace its fleet of aging CF-18s.
The cost of the F-35 stealth jets has soared to $25 billion from $15 billion and questions have been raised as to how much the public actually knows about the deal.
The jets, manufactured by Lockheed-Martin, have also been plagued by technical problems and costs overruns.
Saxton said criticism of the government's procurement process is unfounded and he used Ottawa's $32-billion ship building program as an example of success.
"It was lauded by many people and in fact other countries are even looking at that procurement strategy as a success and (an example of) how to do a proper process," he said.
Saxton also said a seven-point plan is in place to make the F-35 process transparent.
But Harris said the combat vehicle re-start is another example of the government failing to get the job done.
"It's a failure of this government, a failure on the F-35s and a repeat performance or a lack of performance," Harris said.