Good morning, Mr. Chair.
I am François Guimont, the Deputy Minister of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada. I would also like to introduce Mr. Tom Ring, who is the Assistant Deputy Minister for Acquisitions in my department.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear here today to explain the role of my department in the replacement of Canada's fighter jets. With respect to military procurement, my department is responsible for the acquisition of defence supplies for the Department of National Defence in support of their responsibilities.
Our colleagues in the Department of National Defence are the program and technical authority and as such have duties that include, for example, the definition of operational requirements, the preparation of technical evaluations, and the responsibility for associated budgets.
With regard to PWGSC, the Defence Production Act provides the minister of Public Works and Government Services with the exclusive authority to buy or otherwise acquire defence supplies required by the Department of National Defence. As such, the department is the contracting or acquiring authority for these types of acquisitions.
For ease of reference, the respective responsibilities of the technical authority as outlined by the Auditor General are appended to my speaking points today.
I would like to address the issue of due diligence with specific reference to my department's role in the replacement of Canada's fighter jets.
In that respect, we engaged in discussions with DND, the Technical Authority, to understand the high level mandatory capabilities. We consulted on the high level mandatory capabilities with the technical experts at DND, to determine if a competitive process could be conducted. These mandatory capabilities shaped the resulting procurement strategy. If more than one product can meet the mandatory requirements, then a competitive process should be held.
We considered the DND market analysis. Moreover, we met with another potential aircraft manufacturer to discuss its ability to meet mandatory capabilities set forth by the technical authority. We determined that the procurement strategy was in accordance with the Treasury Board's contracting policy and that this acquisition met the requirement of paragraph 6(d) of the government contracts regulations for a sole-source acquisition. In accordance with our department's supply manual, we requested written confirmation from DND, the technical authority, that the F-35 is the only aircraft available to Canada that has fifth-generation capabilities and that meets the high-level mandatory capabilities of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Mr. Chair, it is on that basis that Public Works and Government Services feels that it exercised due diligence commensurate with the current stage of the project. In fact, in his appearance here last week, the Auditor General noted that we did exercise some due diligence. However, he deemed it insufficient.
While no recommendation was directed at PWGSC, we use every opportunity to continually improve our due diligence actions for complex and unique procurements.
The government action plan announced on April 3 clearly frames how due diligence will be applied as we move forward with replacing Canada's fighter jets. These seven action points identify the respective roles of key departments, including my department. A secretariat will be led by Public Works and will ensure the delivery of the government's seven-point action plan.
The terms of reference governing the committee structure are being drafted, and we are also active in staffing and defining priority tasks for actions.
The secretariat will focus on the following outcomes: first, governance and coordination through collaborative arrangements with the key departments involved; second, strengthened due diligence through increased oversight and third party involvement; finally, openness and transparency through clear articulation of timelines, expectations and timely communications.
The deputy minister governance committee, which will be a key component of a new governance structure, recently met and began its work in support of the action plan. Public Works and Government Services Canada is committed to playing a lead role in both coordination and oversight of the process in a manner that meets the expectations of Parliament and citizens.
I will be happy to reply to your questions.