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Confirmation HMNZS Canterbury procurement flawed

Wayne Mapp MP
National Party Defence Spokesman

12 September 2008

Confirmation HMNZS Canterbury procurement flawed

National’s Defence spokesman Wayne Mapp says the Coles Report into the acquisition of HMNZS Canterbury is a damning indictment of the Labour Government’s defence procurement processes.

The report, released today, blames the flawed design and procurement process of the $177 million multi-role ship HMNZS Canterbury on ‘insufficient technical expertise in the project team’ and ‘collective wishful thinking’.

“It gets worse. Further criticism includes:

1. The complexity and challenges of the programme have been under-estimated in all respects. The project team has lacked the size and range of skills to manage a project of the complexity of HMNZS Canterbury.

2. The programme has been managed with relentless determination to deliver to time despite evidence of likely performance shortfalls. There was, however, no explicit consideration of the risks of doing so.

3. There have been significant shortcomings in the governance of the HMNZS Canterbury acquisition, exacerbated by some strained relationships between the MoD and NZDF. Reporting of project performance has been generally inadequate.

“National has consistently expressed concern that choosing this one-off model could lead to unproven risks. The Coles Report vindicates that concern.

“There was a perfectly suitable military design to select that is in service in the Dutch, Spanish, and Royal navies, but the project team opted for an unproven, one-off design instead.

“The report calls for ‘essential remedial work’ to demonstrate safety. It says it is possible some requirements in the contract may not even be delivered and that ‘operating limitations’ will have to be accepted.

“This damning indictment of Labour’s procurement procedures comes on top of a scathing Auditor-General’s report into deep-rooted problems in the Defence Force’s procurement process.

“Defence Minister Phil Goff appears to have been oblivious to this avalanche of criticism. Today he was crowing that the Canterbury – despite failing to deliver on contracted requirements – was a bargain and ‘significantly cheaper’ than similar ships.

“If we are going to give our service men and women the equipment they need to do their job, we need to significantly improve defence procurement procedures. ‘Collective wishful thinking’ isn’t good enough.”

ENDS

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