Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1393

Senator MAGUIRE —I present the 267th report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and I seek leave to make a brief statement.

Leave granted.

Senator MAGUIRE —This report presented the Government's response to the Committee's 243rd report on the management of major capital equipment acquisitions by the Department of Defence. Last year the Committee examined and reported in detail on 16 current or recent major defence equipment projects. Eleven of these projects failed or were not expected to be completed on time, completed to budget or to technical requirements. The Committee found that, in large part, this poor record was the result of ineffective project management and inefficient decision making procedures and resources management within the Department of Defence.

Against this background the Committee made 68 recommendations for action to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of defence project management and related departmental systems. The Committee report I have just tabled details the Government's response to those recommendations. In general the Committee welcomes this reponse. Fifty of the Committee's 68 recommendations have been accepted by the Government. I seek leave to have the balance of my remarks incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

These recommendations relate to a broad range of project management issues including:

improvements to the operation of the Defence Department's Capital Procurement Organisation,

enhancement of the role, authority, and operation of project directors,

the development of professional project management skills in the Department, and

the strengthening of contract administration and improvement of general relations with Australian suppliers of Defence equipment.

However, the Committee is concerned that a number of important recommendations have not been accepted or only partially accepted. These relate to-

the scrutiny of major defence equipment proposals,

contracting matters,

the selection of senior project management personnel and

reporting to Parliament on the Defence capital equipment program.

The Committee believes the reasons advanced for the rejection or qualified acceptance of these recommendations are unsatisfactory.

It strongly urges that the recommendations be re-considered.

In particular the Committee does not agree with the inference in the response that the Committee was proposing to adopt and executive role in the management of the Department of Defence.

Reading the Committee's 243rd Report and the evidence given to the Committee by the Department of Defence indicates that this is not the case. The duties of the Committee and its power to take evidence are clearly defined by its Act.

The Committee is still seeking progress reports on two measures taking by the Department:

first, on action take to reduce the unacceptably long recruitment lead times for civilian project managers and staff in the Department, and

secondly, on the results of the Department's proposed investigation of the feasibility of introducing a comprehensive resource costing system.

A comprehensive costing system, the Committee believes, should allow the costs of departmental management resources to be allocated to individual projects and help minimise time-consuming management procedures.

The Committee awaits the Defence response to these important recommendations.

Because of the important of the issues raised in this inquiry the Committee intends to maintain its interest in Defence project management.

I commend the report to honourable senators.