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Aussie DoD Refutes Procurement Criticism (Aug. 12)

Under Secretary for Defence Materiel, Mr. Mick Roche, today criticized recent press reporting of Defence procurement as inaccurate and outdated.

“Media articles reporting that the “top 20 defense projects” were massively above cost estimates and over time, grossly misrepresent the state of Defence procurement in Australia,” Mr. Roche said.

The articles were apparently based on an answer to a Parliamentary Question on Notice in June 1996. That answer provided broad planning action on a number of projects, but importantly the answer made it clear that:

--the answers were based on the “Unapproved New Major Capital Equipment Program” document (The Pink Book)
--the Pink Book was an internal defense document
--the projects were not yet approved by government and
--as the projects were unapproved, their scope and cost may change substantially.

“The response said ‘The Pink Book’ is, in fact, a basis for internal long-term planning and is often modified as strategic guidance and current events change Defense priorities,” Mr. Roche said.

“Further, the capabilities for many projects are indicative only, as they have not been subjected to the detailed review which occurs prior to their approval by government.”

“There is no basis for claims of delay or budget overruns,” Mr. Roche added.

The definitive government position is set out in the 2000 White Paper and it’s update in “Australia’s National Security – A Defence update 2003” which emphasizes the need to adapt acquisition plans to the evolving security environment.

Mr. Roche pointed out that good progress is being made on a range of projects critical to addressing Defence needs in the changing strategic environment including:

--the Airborne Early Warning and Control project is on schedule with modifications to the first aircraft ahead of schedule
--the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter is about eight weeks behind schedule but still on track for delivery in December 2004
--the Air to Air Refueling Request for Tender has been released with first delivery planned in 2007 and
--the elements of the F/A-18 Hornet Upgrade that are in contract (radar and upgraded mission computer software) are on schedule and due for completion by August 2003.

Mr. Roche also said that the government has also approved a range of rapid acquisitions to support operations including East Timor and Iraq. This has seen an expenditure of about $280m of capital on operations over the last three years.

“This equipment has been successfully rolled out and used by, or used to support, Australian Forces abroad.” Mr. Roche said.

Defence Capability Projects On Track