Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good morning and thank you for the invitation to appear before you today.
As indicated, I am Patrick Finn and am the assistant deputy minister (materiel) at the Department of National Defence.
I am joined today by the director general, international and industry programs, Jennifer Hubbard, who is currently also serving as the chairperson of the NATO Support and Procurement Organisation's Agency Supervisory Board.
The materiel group serves the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces as a central service provider and functional authority for all defence materiel acquisition and support.
The materiel group's activities contribute to Canada's commitment to the NATO alliance. As highlighted in “Strong, Secure, Engaged”, NATO is a cornerstone of Canadian defence and security policy. Canada remains as committed as ever to this alliance, as evidenced through our contributions to various missions.
Canada contributes to the capital acquisition of all alliance common-funded capabilities through the NATO security investment program. This includes major capability delivery programs, such as the air command and control system and the preliminary work currently under way on the alliance future surveillance and control program.
NATO procures these common-funded capabilities, and provides a range of other services.
Of key interest to the materiel group is the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, known as the NSPA, which is headquartered in Capellen, Luxembourg, and provides integrated, multinational logistics and procurement support solutions for its stakeholders, operating on a no-profit, no-loss basis.
The NSPA manages a diverse range of activities, from support to operations and exercises to the provision of logistics services and life cycle management, including large-scale weapon systems acquisitions for its alliance customers.
For example, the agency's central Europe pipeline system program manages the operation, financing, and maintenance of an integrated cross-border fuel pipeline and storage system in support of NATO's operational military requirements during peacetime, crisis, and conflicts, including expeditionary operations.
The NSPA is the executive body of the NATO Support and Procurement Organisation, of which all 29 nations are members. Those nations are represented in the organization's agency supervisory board, which directs and controls the activities of the agency.
An official from my organization represents Canada at the agency supervisory board's meetings, and as I mentioned, Jennifer Hubbard is currently the chairperson of the board. This position was originally from 2016 to 2018, and we have been asked to extend her tenure until 2019, which I think speaks volumes about her capability and abilities.
Access to the services of these NATO procurement agencies has been invaluable in supporting Canadian Armed Forces missions. As the Canadian Armed Forces rarely deploy abroad alone, the use of these NATO agencies in multinational circumstances has proven to be a responsive and effective way to conduct coalition contracting for common goods and services.
During the military mission in Afghanistan, Canada and a number of allies obtained real life support at Kandahar Airfield through the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency, the predecessor to the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. The agency served as the NATO contract integrator for the provision of a wide range of services, from food to camp infrastructure.
As a result of Canada's membership in the NSPA's multinational tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided, or TOW, missile system partnership, Canada has upgraded its TOW missile systems over the last four years and continues to rely on the agency for the maintenance of these systems, including the supply of spare parts.
My officials are currently working with their counterparts at Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat to examine our existing procurement authorities and to enable enhanced use of the NATO procurement agencies where appropriate, to better support future Canadian Forces military missions abroad.
As Canada's senior government representative responsible for defence materiel matters, I attend the twice-annual Conference of National Armaments Directors plenary meetings at NATO Headquarters.
The Conference of National Armaments Directors—or CNAD, if you prefer—reports directly to the North Atlantic Council and is tasked to advise the council on armament matters; act on issues pertaining to multinational co-operation in the research, development, and production of military equipment and systems; and contribute to the coherent, transparent, and mutually reinforcing development of common capability requirements.
My participation as Canada's national armaments director at the plenaries allows me to influence the improvements of the alliance's military capabilities. It also provides an opportunity to share national perspectives and best practices with all parties. Reporting to the Conference of National Armaments Directors are a variety of main armament groups that have developed a broad portfolio of multinational co-operation efforts in the naval, land, air, and joint domains.
The work undertaken by the conference and by the main armament groups underpins NATO's capability and interoperability, and the projects the conference governs and oversees are high profile and often very sensitive.
Before I close my remarks, I want to highlight a very important initiative to improve the delivery of NATO common-funded capability programs.
After successive reports by NATO's internal auditors found that the alliance's common-funded capabilities were being delivered over budget and behind schedule and were often falling short of requirements, the Secretary General directed the formation of a group of senior experts to analyze the problem and make recommendations for improvement.
To ensure that the Canadian view and best practices in program governance could influence the work and recommendations of the group of senior experts, my organization was represented on the group. One of the key issues we have stressed is the adoption of best practices that we use in Canada. We are pleased to report that our recommendations made their way into the recommendations contained in the final report that was presented to the Secretary General in April 2017.
I believe this issue epitomizes how Canada's commitment to NATO, its participation in NATO forums, and its provision of expertise and national best practices can make a meaningful contribution to the entire alliance.
I thank you for for allowing me to provide some opening comments, Mr. Chair, and we welcome your questions.
Thank you, sir.