Interview article

Tom Ring, Patrick Finn, and Philip Jennings

The First Stages of Procurement Reform
CHRIS MacLEAN  |  May 15, 2014

Reading media reports that date back more than a decade, or listening in on private conversations among both government and industry stakeholders, you would quickly ­conclude that Defence Procurement processes have, single-handedly, pretty much exhausted the world’s arsenal of negative adjectives over the years.

Either fed up with bad press over what many consider an overwhelming challenge, or simply in a restructuring mood after seeing the long-term rework of Ottawa’s major transit routes progressing without the sky falling, the Government of Canada has decided to change the procurement system.

By “change,” I mean a complete review and overhaul – incorporating as many of the good, reasoned and workable options suggested over the years as possible. To its credit, the Government acknowledges that it is a “work in progress” and also understands that it must work collaboratively with the industry it wants to support and grow, if its Economic Action Plan is to have continued credibility and be able to improve economic outcomes by leveraging defence procurement contracts.
To that end, the Government of Canada has committed to engage with defence stakeholders to identify how best to streamline the procurement system and make it truly transparent, while increasing employment and other economic opportunities in Canada. For additional insight into the process, FrontLine recently interviewed key players from Public Works and Government Services (Tom Ring); National Defence (Rear-Admiral Patrick Finn); and Industry Canada (Philip Jennings).
To move beyond the Decade of Darkness requires a positive outlook and a less partisan approach to defence so there can be more of a national consensus on what the government requires of its military and thus what the military needs to do its job.

As part of the transformation process, the Defence Procurement Strategy (DPS) is being driven by three core pillars that offer something for each of the four stakeholder groups: getting the right equipment for the Canadian Forces in a timely fashion (military); ensuring better economic outcomes for the country (government and citizens); and streamlining the procurement pro­cesses (government and industry).

According to Tom Ring, Assistant Deputy Minister (Acquisitions Branch) at PWGSC, these three pillars have all