INDEPENDENT NEWS

Army Acquisition Process A Sham

Published: Wed 22 Aug 2001 12:52 AM
Army Acquisition Process A Sham - Inquiry Still Needed
The Auditor General's report on the Ministry of Defence's 'Acquisition of Light Armoured Vehicles and Light Operational Vehicles' confirms rumours of a significant dysfunctional relationship between the Army, and the Ministry of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Force, National's Defence Spokesperson Max Bradford said today.
"The report is weak as it does not get in behind what the Army was doing and why or how it was doing it.
"Nor does the Auditor General explain why the Ministry of Defence acquisition process was working perfectly well for the much more complex projects in the Navy and the Air Force, but not for the Army. For example, there are no questions raised over the ANZAC frigate project or the acquisition of the naval helicopters or the rewinging of the Orions.
"One can only conclude that the problems is a real failure of leadership in the army. It is a tragedy for the men and women in the field that have to make do with the decisions made by a number of senior army officers with unclear agendas.
"The Auditor General proves that the army itself was confused in what was needed in the purchase of light armoured vehicles, but in the end it made a decision based on a Force Development Proposal (FDP) that bore little relationship to operational considerations the government of the day was asked to approve.
"The Auditor General appears to have laid more blame on the Ministry of Defence than is warranted. Further investigation must be made into the Army's internal processes and actions. I repeat my call for an inquiry to get to the bottom of what has been going on and why, as the Government's decision costing nearly ¾ of a billion dollars is too important to ignore.
"There is increasing evidence that the Government had to scrap the air combat force to pay for the LAV IIIs.
"The Auditor General was also remiss in not adequately investigating aspects of the acquisition process prior to the completion of the Force Development Proposal. He did not interview the head of the Acquisition Division, the former Secretary of Defence or the former CDF, in spite of the fact that most of his conclusions relate to the period when they were in office. This is a fatal weakness of Mr MacDonald's report. In addition, my offer of assistance, including opening my files, was not accepted and no matters were discussed with me as a former Minister of Defence.
"What is really disturbing but not covered in the report, is the explosion in cost from $212 million to what many experts estimate will be $700 to $800 million. Nor is there any discussion as to why 105 vehicles were ordered by the current Government. It is now up to the Minister of Defence to explain why as the Auditor General hasn't.
"The only conclusion that can be drawn from the Auditor General's report is that it is a useful first step to finding out why the Army leadership is dysfunctional and what it was doing behind the scenes to gerrymander the defence acquisition process. The matter is by no means over," Mr Bradford said.
Ends

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