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|Response to Parliamentary Committees
|In May 2007, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts tabled its 15th Report on the subject of Chapter Five of the Auditor General of Canada’s November 2006 Report (Relocating Members of the Canadian Forces, RCMP and Federal Public Service). The text of the report is available at: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=2955368&Mode=1&Parl=39&Ses=1&Language=E. The Department contributed to the Government Response to the Committee report that was tabled in Parliament on 17 October 2007.
|Response to the Auditor General (including to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development)
Office of the Auditor General (OAG)
During the reporting period, the Auditor General tabled four Chapters in Parliament that included recommendations directed at the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. In May 2007, she tabled both “Use of Acquisition and Travel Cards” and “Modernizing the NORAD System in Canada”. In October 2007, the Auditor General tabled “Military Health Care” and “Safeguarding Government Information and Assets in Contracting”.
In the government-wide Chapter entitled “Use of Acquisition and Travel Cards”, the Auditor General concluded that departmental controls over acquisition cards were not being applied in a rigorous manner. Of particular concern was the inconsistent application of verification and certification controls required under the Financial Administration Act. Of the nine audit recommendations contained in this Chapter, one was directed at DND alone and three others were directed at all three participating departments. All four recommendations were accepted by the Department.
In the Chapter “Modernizing the NORAD System in Canada”, the Auditor General reported that NORAD Modernization cost significantly more than originally planned, it took considerably longer than anticipated to be completed, and projected savings have yet to materialize. The Department accepted the three audit recommendations presented by the Auditor General in this Chapter.
In the Chapter “Military Health Care”, the Auditor General reported that, although CF members are satisfied with the health care they receive, the DND/CF has little information available to demonstrate how well the system is performing or the quality of care being provided. The military health system costs almost twice as much to operate as provincial health care systems and the Department is unable to show that the cost of maintaining current service levels is operationally necessary. The Auditor General also reported that the DND/CF is unable to demonstrate that its military health care professionals are licenced/certified or that they have maintained their qualifications to practice. The Department agreed with all eight of the Auditor General’s audit recommendations.
When the Auditor General tabled her government-wide Chapter on “Safeguarding Government Information and Assets in Contracting” in October 2007, she concluded that DND willingly circumvented key security-related procedures in order to reduce costs and avoid project delays during the construction of the Above Ground Complex in North Bay. As a result of failing to identify security requirements prior to initiating the contract, contractors without security clearances had access to both the building plans and the worksite during building construction. The Auditor General also stated that, of the 8,500 DND construction and maintenance contracts awarded by Defence Construction Canada since April 2002, approximately 99% were let without verifying the contractors’ security clearances. Of the ten audit recommendations included in this Chapter, only two involved the DND/CF and both were accepted.
These four Chapters, including departmental responses to the Auditor General’s recommendations, can be accessed on the Auditor General’s website at the following link: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_lpf_e_1193.html
Commissioner Of The Environment And Sustainable Development
In March 2008, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled a Report in Parliament that contained two government-wide Chapters that made reference to the Department of National Defence. Both of these audits followed-up on significant observations and key recommendations that were previously reported to Parliament in 2002. The two Chapters were entitled: “Federal Contaminated Sites” and “Environmental Petitions: Military Dumpsites”. The Commissioner reported that the federal government has made satisfactory progress in addressing the issue of contaminated sites. He also concluded that National Defence has made satisfactory progress in responding to the Military Dumpsites Petition. Only the Petitions Chapter contained a recommendation directed at the DND/CF and it was accepted. These two Chapters can be found on the Commissioner’s website at the following link: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_200803_e_30125.html
(Note: These refer to other external audits conducted by the Public Service Commission of Canada or the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages)
|No non-OAG external audits specific to the DND/CF were reported on during 2007/08.
|1st Report of the Standing Committee on National Defence (NDDN), 39th Parliament, 1st Session, "Canadian Forces in Afghanistan"
|5. DND should review the need for some sort of flexible decompression programme for soldiers going home on mid-tour leave.
|National Defence currently runs an end of tour Third Location Decompression program and soldiers on a six month tour receive 18 days of mid-tour leave, where the day before the leave begins is spent at an intermediate staging base. However, there is no evidence to suggest that either a mid-tour or end-tour decompression program significantly impacts a soldier's chance of developing, or recovering from, an operational stress injury. Also, instituting a mid-tour decompression program would create logistical and operational concerns. National Defence is continuing to evaluate the benefits of the end of tour Third Location Decompression program.
|While there remains no empirical evidence to suggest that either a mid-tour or end-tour decompression program significantly impacts a soldier's chance of developing or recovering from an operational stress injury, the vast majority of those who have experienced the program believe that it eased the re-integration process both for themselves and their families. Exposure to the mental health program has also led the majority to express a realization that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. A review of the decompression program has been established to evaluate its benefits with a view to updating the re-integration policy and potentially the structure and scope of the program itself.
|6. The government should recognize the critical and growing work done by the Operational Stress Injury Social Support Network and support it with appropriate funding and other resources, so that it can keep up with the growing need of caring for returning Afghanistan Veterans and their families.
|The Government recognizes the critical work being done by the Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) network.
|Since the launch of the OSISS network in February 2002, National Defence funding for OSISS initiatives has increased every year. In fiscal year 2007-2008, the Government approved a 25% increase in Department's funding for OSISS, bringing the total to $2.6 billion.
|12. The Minister of National Defence should appear at least four times a year before the Standing Committee on National Defence, to provide a televised situation report, outlining the status, activity and effect of all Canadian Forces operational missions being conducted at the time.
|The Government recognizes and supports the principles of ministerial accountability and responsibility to Parliament, including responding to parliamentary committee questions on the Government's policies, programs and activities. The Minister of National Defence has always worked to accommodate committee requests for appearances and will continue to do so in the future. However, designating a specific number of appearances in advance would be arbitrary and, depending on the tempo of CF operations and developments in Afghanistan, may not be the most effective way to provide information to the Committee.
|The Minister of National Defence appeared twice during the reporting period to discuss Canadian Forces operational missions, including Afghanistan.
|13. In the months during which the Committee is not traveling and in which the Minister does not appear, a Canadian Forces senior officer should continue to appear before the Committee to present a briefing on the mission status, activity and effect of all ongoing Canadian Forces operational missions since the last report and provide a view of what can be expected in the next month.
|National Defence will continue to provide CF operational briefings to the committee.
|Senior DND/CF officials provided four briefings to NDDN over the reporting period. Timing between each briefing varied due to parliamentary breaks, Committee travel, etc.
|16. The Standing Committee on National Defence should visit the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan at lease once annually, at an appropriate time, in order to review the status of the mission at that time and any progress being made.
|The Government supports the idea of annual visits in principle. However, operational and security considerations may affect the timing of any visit, and approval for travel must be sought by the House of Commons.
|The Committee visited Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. Both visits; however, fell outside of the reporting period of this DPR.
|19. The government should increase the Canadian Forces contributions to Afghan National Army training so that, as the Afghan National Army grows and matures, higher level collective training of new Kandaks can be conducted prior to real operations.
|The Government recognizes the importance of increasing its contribution to Afghan National Army (ANA) training and the conditions are right for Canada to redouble its training and mentoring initiatives, and to focus that effort on achieving results in Kandahar Province to reinforce our security, development and reconstruction achievements. However, decisions regarding future levels of Canadian contributions to ANA training will be determined by the ANA's progress and capacity, CF operational requirements, and assistance being provided by allies.
|DND has since been designated as the lead department for ANA capacity building in accordance with the Government of Canada Six Priorities in Afghanistan. Capacity building has increased considerably with an additional ANA battalion (Kandak) assigned for mentoring in Kandahar. As well, Canada increased its mentoring role by assuming responsibility for two additional Kandaks that had been mentored by US Forces. Through these mentoring efforts, one Kandak has reached its full capability milestone, meaning it can plan and conduct operations with limited International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) support. This is a first in Regional Command South. An additional Kandak and the brigade headquarters have both reached capability milestone two, which means they still require some ISAF support. DND continues its work mentoring the Kandaks and the brigade headquarters of the 1st Brigade of 205 Corps to improve their capabilities in planning, training and operations. This will build long-term and enduring capacity in the ANA to provide security for the Afghan population and to enable the Afghan National Government to expand its governance and services.
|11th Report of SCOPA, 39th Parliament, 1st Session, “Chapter 2, National Defence—Military Recruiting and Retention of the May 2006 Report of the Auditor General of Canada”
|2. That the Department of National Defence report progress in the implementation of its action plan to strengthen the recruitment and retention of military personnel in its annual Departmental Performance Report, beginning with the Report for the period ending 31 March 2007. The Department should also report progress in implementing its national recruiting attractions plan as well as its strategic guidance on national recruiting. In making this information available to Parliament, the Department must make clear reference to the outcomes that are being achieved.
|The Department of National Defence will ensure that the information identified in this recommendation is included in its annual Departmental Performance Report beginning with the report for the period ending 31 March 2007.
|The National Attractions Plan is embedded in the CF Recruiting Group's Annual Operations Plan, which has been published for the past three years. Recruiting targets for fiscal years 2006-07 and 2007-08 were achieved and the Strategic Guidance on National Recruiting was published in Feb 2007.
|3. That the Department of National Defence establish a formal commitment to process applications for membership in the Canadian Armed Forces within thirty days, ensure that all applicants are made aware of that commitment and report its progress in meeting those goals in its annual Departmental Performance Report.
|The Government will continue to explore additional opportunities to streamline applicant processing and is progressing with the development of a robust performance measurement system based on the Treasury Board framework for service standards. Progress in meeting the goals identified above will be included in the annual Departmental Performance Report for the Department of National Defence, beginning with the report for the period ending 31 March 2007.
|Attainment of the goal for applicant processing of 30% completed in 5 days and 70% in 30 days continues to be a significant challenge. Improvements were made in applicant service, eliminating waiting time and in the prioritization of processing. Applicant processing was previously a rigid process where an applicant had to succeed at one step before proceeding to the next step or in other words, the processing was done sequentially. The Commanding Officers of Recruiting Centres have been given the authority to conduct parallel processing in order to maximize the use of their resources at any given time and ensure concurrent activity. For example, the credit check and criminal records name check as part of the Enhanced Reliability sub-process were generally done at the end of the process. Due to improvements from the service provider, CO's now conduct this activity at the outset of the process, thus ensuring concurrent activity.
|5. That the Department of National Defence record and evaluate the results of its advertising activities, report the results in its annual Departmental Performance Reports beginning with the Report for the period ending 31 March 2007, and make the appropriate changes to its advertising campaign and related expenditures.
The Government is committed to evaluating the results of its new television advertising campaign dedicated to recruiting, and will institute appropriate changes as required. The Government also agrees to report the results of its current advertising campaign in the Department of National Defence annual Departmental Performance Report, beginning with the Report for the
period ending 31 March 2007.
As part of its evaluation, the Government will identify and analyze all factors related to recruiting in order to leverage them for future success. The Government will utilize the remaining time in the current fiscal year to assess the true impact that the new advertising campaign is having on attracting more Canadians to join the Canadian Forces.
In accordance with the Government of Canada Communications Policy, under Section 23, all major advertising campaigns are evaluated to assess their effectiveness in achieving the stated objectives. In fiscal 2007-2008, two evaluation studies were completed (Fall 2007 and Winter 2008) to assess the performance of the fall and winter recruitment advertising campaigns. The
studies provide "recall" statistics, a common measurement for television advertising.
In addition to these evaluation studies, traffic through the various recruitment points of contact was also used to assess the effectiveness of recruitment advertising. This measure includes recruitment website visits, visits to recruitment centres, phone calls to the 1-800 line and e-mail. An additional metric introduced this year was the online "chat with a recruiter". Fiscal 2007-2008 saw 6,522,514 unique visitors to the recruitment website. CF recruiters responded to over 25,000 e-mails, participated in 12,000 chat sessions and received almost 15,000 online applications, all initiated through the website.
|8. The Department of National Defence determine the rate of attrition for female members of the Canadian Forces and, in its exit surveys, seek to establish which factors prompt female members to leave the Forces before full service is completed. The results, along with corrective measures taken to encourage women to complete their full service should be reported in the Department's annual Performance Reports, beginning with the Report for the period ending 31 March 2008.
|A comprehensive survey analysis that will be conducted in the fall of 2007 will allow the Government to better understand the reasons female members of the Canadian Forces decide to leave the military. Should trends be identified that indicate a need for change, the Government will initiate appropriate corrective measures. The results of this survey analysis, together with any corrective measures undertaken, will be reported in the Departmental Performance Reports, beginning with the report for the period ending 31 March 2008.
Female Attrition Rate from the CF
The rates are still similar between men and women. The male officer rate was 6.8% and the male NCM rate was 9.6% for fiscal year 2007/2008.
|9. The Department of National Defence begin to report the results of the exit surveys it conducts among members of the Canadian Forces in its Departmental Performance Reports beginning with the Report for the period ending 31 March 2007. References to the methodology and scope of the surveys should be included.
|The Department of National Defence will ensure that the information identified in this recommendation is included in its annual Departmental Performance Report. However, since the comprehensive analysis of survey results will not commence until the fall of 2007, the reporting of these results can only begin with the report for the period ending 31 March 2008.
|Data collection began in late 2007 and will continue into summer 2008 in order to provide a large enough sample size for valid analyses.
|10. That the Department of National Defence establish a target for the maximum acceptable rate of attrition of its trained effective strength and monitor the performance of the package of measures it has instituted to meet that target. The Department should begin to report its progress in its annual Departmental Performance Report beginning with the report ending 31 March 2007.
|The Government will include data regarding attrition rates in the Department of National Defence annual Departmental Performance Report beginning with the report ending 31 March 2007. However, the data will be based on trend analysis as opposed to pre-determined targets.
|Although external recruiting targets for fiscal years 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 were slightly exceeded, attrition exceeded its projections, which in turn resulted in a growth of 628, falling slightly below the forecasted 800-1,000 forecasted for fiscal year 2007-2008. The Regular Force attrition rate was 9.0% - still within the margins of healthy attrition for force renewal (6.5-10%). The intake and training plans were adjusted to account for a higher forecasted attrition rate. Attrition is higher at the normal gates of 20-25 years of service because more people as a percentage of the force are reaching this gate. This is a combined result of the downsizing years when recruiting was stopped, the fact that many 'baby boomers' are at retirement age and the hot economy. Of note, the Afghanistan operations have had no impact on attrition and may indeed be contributing to retention for those in the 5-20 years of service cohort. Attraction and recruiting campaigns were adjusted to focus on stressed occupations and recruiters and the Army, Navy and Air Forces leadership continued to work to implement targets recruiting plans for occupation based 'get well' action. The authorized Total paid strength target of 68,000 will be achieved in fiscal year 2010-2011.
|15th Report of SCOPA, 39th Parliament, 1st session, “Chapter 5 of the November 2006 Report of the Auditor General of Canada (Relocating Members of the Canadian Forces, RCMP, and Federal Public Service)”
|5. That the Department of National Defence, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Treasury Board Secretariat include, in their annual Departmental Performance Reports, references to the Integrated Relocation-Program as it relates to their employees. Information on the numbers of employees using the Program, the costs, and the extent to which the purposes of the Program are being achieved must be included. This performance information must be included in DPRs beginning with Reports for the period ending 31 March 2008.
|The Government accepts this recommendation.
The purpose of the Integrated Relocation Program (IRP) is to relocate CF personnel and their families in the most efficient fashion and at the most reasonable cost to the public while having a minimum detrimental effect on the employee and family, and on departmental operations.
The CF authorized the service provider, Royal Lepage Relocation Services (RLRS), to effect relocations for 15,700 personnel during fiscal year 2007-08. Records indicate that the administration fees paid to RLRS for providing relocation services totalled just under $28.5 million, including GST. The summation of the flow through costs for reimbursements made to CF personnel for relocation benefits were slightly greater than $225 million.
The CF IRP policy manual was completely re-written in fiscal year 2007-08 with the aim of making it shorter, less complex and easier to read and understand. In partnership with other client departments, work has begun in the process of re-tendering the relocation contract through PWGSC to be effective November 2009.