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Defence Infrastructure Failing for Lack of Investment

McG

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So here is what spending only 1% of GDP gets for defence.  Guess we must wait and see what the new Real Property Operations Units are able to do to for improvement, but I will remain skeptical until they show they can make a difference on the same little old budget.

Canada's military bases falling apart due to lack of funding: National Defence audit
Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
CTV News
02 Oct 2016

A National Defence audit has found many of Canada's military bases are falling apart because of chronic underspending on the maintenance, repair and replacement of sewers, roads and electrical, heating and drinking water systems.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact military officials have little to no information on the actual state of those municipal works, meaning the department doesn't know how what needs to be fixed or replaced.

The audit, recently published on the department's website, concludes that the risk of electrical outages, sewer backups and other service disruptions at military bases is set to increase. Such disruptions threaten operations as well as the health and welfare of those living or working on or near the bases.

National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said the department is changing the way it manages its vast property portfolio. That includes taking authority away from the individual bases and centralizing it in Ottawa.

"The government of Canada is committed to equipping Canadian Armed Forces members with the resources required to do their jobs and to improving the facilities where they live, work and train," Lemire said in an email.

"The new centralized model will continue to be refined to better support the management of real property, including municipal works, across the portfolio."

But Lemire also confirmed that the more than $200 million set aside by this year's federal budget for military infrastructure is not intended to address the underfunding identified in the audit.

The money will go toward armouries, aircraft hangars, naval jetties and military housing, rather than the basic utilities needed to operate military bases. More than half of the equipment associated with those utilities is over 50 years old.

Canada spends less than one per cent of its gross domestic product on defence after several years of belt-tightening by the previous Conservative government. That is among the lowest of all NATO allies, who have all agreed on a two per cent target.

The Liberals, who are currently drafting a new defence policy, have refused to say whether any new injection of money for the military is on the horizon.

In their report, the auditors laid much of the blame for the current problems on a combination of underfunding and poor record-keeping.

In 2008, defence officials set a number of spending targets with regards to replacing as well as maintaining and repairing existing infrastructure. However, auditors found that officials had not met those targets for the past five years "due to resource limitations."

Base personnel "have consistently reported on funding pressures that have prevented them from reaching the targeted level of expenditure," the audit report reads. "Chronic underspending on maintenance and repairs will lead to a continued decline in the condition and suitability of real property."

Defence officials estimated there would be a cumulative $1.1-billion backlog in terms of maintenance and repairs by 2018. However, that figure is almost certainly low as the auditors found base personnel weren't properly tracking, let alone checking, the state of infrastructure.

According to the audit, the condition field in the department's property database was blank for 81 per cent of records. Service disruptions -- power outages, sewage backups and water line breaks, among others -- were also not tracked, meaning there was no way to know how often they occurred.

The auditors said military commanders could make a case for more funding if they had the proper information. But base personnel told auditors that part of the reason they were facing "chronic backlogs" when it came to entering information into the database was "limited resources to maintain the data." 
   
http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/canada-s-military-bases-falling-apart-due-to-lack-of-funding-national-defence-audit-1.3098400
 

PuckChaser

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Condition wasn't tracked for 81% of the properties? I feel like that's in someone's job description and either they're too busy or no one is checking to see if they're actually doing their job properly.

I'm also a big fan of the national inventory of PSPC properties that contain asbestos.... that didn't include a single DND building outside of the NCR. I guess the exposed and flaking asbestos-wrapped pipes in my old office were a figment of my imagination.
 

George Wallace

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For the last four decades people have been saying this, only to see band-aid solutions or privatization of various organizations responsible for upkeep of properties.  The Government has gone on the "Cheap" for longer than anyone here can remember; and we have some very senior members.
 
J

jollyjacktar

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George Wallace said:
For the last four decades people have been saying this, only to see band-aid solutions or privatization of various organizations responsible for upkeep of properties.  The Government has gone on the "Cheap" for longer than anyone here can remember; and we have some very senior members.

Longer than that, even.  I remember my dad saying about the buildings that were built during the second war, that they were only intended and designed to be used for 5 years and if they were needed longer than that, they were to be pulled down and replaced with more permanent structures.  Here it is almost 80 years later and many of these buildings still survive, although they are starting to go as the Drill Shed and Sea Division buildings in Halifax did.  The costs of replacing all that infrastructure was then (post 1945 onwards), as it is today, just so bloody expensive to contemplate all at once.
 

donaldk

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I read the above article as basically confirmation that ADM(IE) has nearly created the SSC of the infrastructure world (all we would need is for AME(IE) itself to loose its mandate and PSPC take over in a mega-fail fashion).  Now if CRS/OAG can rip their books open and check into their individual base RPOS detachments operating budgets and DND vehicle allotments (especially the TD/Minor Travel).

... now if I could get my local RPOS section off their ass to get a sink installed and not passed around the phone mill (private office tower, PSPC lease, my directorate has $$$ set aside... would love it if I could go directly to PSPC).
 

OldSolduer

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Infrastructure and the maintenance of it is not "sexy" and it's expensive if preventative maintenance isn't performed.
Small example - the big washrooms in Minto Armories have been n/s for a few years. Every Div Comd that toured the building knew about because I told them about it. The project has been started but what should take a month....is still not complete.
 

Colin Parkinson

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back in the day it was the Construction Engineers that did a lot of the basic repair and upkeep, I guess that went by the wayside?
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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Colin P said:
back in the day it was the Construction Engineers that did a lot of the basic repair and upkeep, I guess that went by the wayside?

Probably on the spurious logic imposed on governments everywhere in recent decades: "They are doing work that is civilian in nature, can be done by properly 'carded' union members of a trade union and some of them are unemployed so you are depriving them of valuable work if you do it in-house with "untrained" personnel".

The same dubious logic the now prevents parents from holding a "chore" day before the beginning of the year to clean up all the lockers, playgrounds and possibly give a fresh coat of paint at their children's school.
 

dapaterson

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In fact, the underlying logic is that military personnel are more expensive than civilian personnel and are limited in number by governmental direction, so therefore employing military personnel in non-core roles should be avoided, except where there is a need for "ship to shore" ratio.  If a function is performed entirely in a domestic environment with no operational role, it should not be done by military personnel.

 

Edward Campbell

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dapaterson said:
In fact, the underlying logic is that military personnel are more expensive than civilian personnel and are limited in number by governmental direction, so therefore employing military personnel in non-core roles should be avoided, except where there is a need for "ship to shore" ratio.  If a function is performed entirely in a domestic environment with no operational role, it should not be done by military personnel.


And I agree, entirely, in principle ... which is why I have advocated, for years, that:

1. The Communications and Electronics Branch, just for one example, should be chopped in half: one half should be better trained to provide C2 systems in operations and the other half should be sent to Bell, Telus, Intelsat, etc, who can provide most (almost all) of the strategic communications system, including being cleared to hold and "load" crypto and including providing civilian maned terminals in operational theatres; and

2. The Military Police Branch, for another example, should be split into a military force charged with and properly trained for operational area traffic control, POW handling and base (including IT facility) security, and a civilian police force ~ maybe the RCMP ~ that would do routine, day-to-day, "police" work, including on base traffic policing and criminal investigation.

Civilians are not "bad," and, in fact, they are, generally, very "able." They have to be properly paid, well managed (which means that contracts have to be drafted properly and administered fairly and consistently) and treated with a modicum of respect.
 

McG

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Colin P said:
back in the day it was the Construction Engineers that did a lot of the basic repair and upkeep, I guess that went by the wayside?
The positions do not exist to do much of the direct maintenance any more (either by military or PS).  There is still some capacity, but many RPO Dets are largely services contracting staff.

dapaterson said:
In fact, the underlying logic is that military personnel are more expensive than civilian personnel and are limited in number by governmental direction, so therefore employing military personnel in non-core roles should be avoided, except where there is a need for "ship to shore" ratio.  If a function is performed entirely in a domestic environment with no operational role, it should not be done by military personnel. 
And the RPOUs took several engineers out of Div Engr shops (where they also worried about PRes & Ref F CERs, Div Engr Ress Tps, and Engr support to DOMOPS) to put them into jobs solely focused on domestic infrastructure and environment.  I suspect a lot of these positions could now be civilianized.
 

George Wallace

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dapaterson said:
"You hear about the new CE truck? It sleeps six."

Times have changed.  It used to be "It is yellow and it sleeps six."  Those days are long gone.  It could be any colour and hide more easily in a crowd.
 

quadrapiper

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dapaterson said:
In fact, the underlying logic is that military personnel are more expensive than civilian personnel and are limited in number by governmental direction, so therefore employing military personnel in non-core roles should be avoided, except where there is a need for "ship to shore" ratio.  If a function is performed entirely in a domestic environment with no operational role, it should not be done by military personnel.
Assume there's no perceived need for a readily-accessible pool of uniformed construction pers lest "we" end up setting up a long-term presence abroad?
 

dapaterson

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That factors into plans as well. But how much is required?  And with a finite limit of the size of the CAF, should we take risk in trades with easily transferable skillsets,  or those that are unique to the military?
 

YZT580

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E.R. Campbell said:
2. The Military Police Branch, for another example, should be split into a military force charged with and properly trained for operational area traffic control, POW handling and base (including IT facility) security, and a civilian police force ~ maybe the RCMP ~ that would do routine, day-to-day, "police" work, including on base traffic policing and criminal investigation.

Except that RCMP officers are in a higher salary bracket and since the employer is the same, it is taking potential man years away from the military.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Not to mention OT and you are at the mercy of the whims of RCMP management for staff, training.
 

Lightguns

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E.R. Campbell said:
2. The Military Police Branch, for another example, should be split into a military force charged with and properly trained for operational area traffic control, POW handling and base (including IT facility) security, and a civilian police force ~ maybe the RCMP ~ that would do routine, day-to-day, "police" work, including on base traffic policing and criminal investigation.

RCMP manning varies across Canada from 13%  to 50% below staffing levels
 
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