The Canadian Department of National Defence is pretty busy these days. In addition to fighting a ground war in Afghanistan and an air war in Libya, it is also trying to budget $3 billion for a long-awaited upgrade to its 40 year old fleet of fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft; kick-start a $5 billion reset and refit of its tactical and medium wheeled vehicle fleet; start buying F-35 fighters; and investing ships and equipment to retain its hold on its Arctic region. So you’d expect the department to be scratching and clawing for more money, right?
In fiscal year 2010-2011, the DND was apparently unable to spend $1.5 billion of its $21 billion budget, and will have to return that extra cash to the treasury (though it can “carry forward” $444 million into the next fiscal year.)
And this isn’t a one-time mixup. In 2009-2010, DND had to return $1.18 billion, and in 2007-2008 it returned $300 million, according to Canadian press reports. According to a report by Auditor General Sheila Fraser released in 2009, “The Department’s financial management and monitoring of resources may not be adequate to support decision making by senior management.” You think?
The unspent money came from both operational as well as procurement accounts, and All this comes amid a general belt-tightening in Ottawa that has spurred talk of military budget cuts and about 2,100 job cuts at the DND.
All this doesn’t exactly look like a winning strategy if the DND plans on fighting the cuts that may be coming in order to keep its modernization plans on track.
Photo: Canadian Army