Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Okay. Can we fire O'Connor NOW?

Defence minister Gordon O'Connor has been an absolutely incompetent performer. He muddled his way through the recent controversy about the treatment and possible torture of Afghan detainees like a man stuck in mental quicksand. He lied about the ICRC's role in overseeing their detention. He lost track of 4 detainees who have disappeared into thin air. His department tried to stop one of the 4 investigations into the possible abuse of detainees by Canadian soldiers. And now, military police are investigating over 100 shady defence department contracts.

Military police have been called in to investigate irregularities surrounding almost $100 million worth of National Defence transportation contracts.

The Citizen first reported last month that the department's internal auditors had raised red flags over the "vast majority" of 109 contracts for air, rail, sea and road freight transportation.

Officials now reveal one employee has already been fired as a result and the military's law enforcement arm is taking a closer look.

The audit was highly critical of how bidders were selected for work with the department, citing problems such as improper sole-sourcing of contracts and the absence of a clear method to determine winning bids.

It found that "while 89 of these contracts were technically awarded via competition, the methods used -- i.e. e-mailing or faxing requirements to at least two selected companies -- may have omitted many potential suppliers and may not have resulted in the best price.

"For air transport contracts, there was no clear method of determining how the winning bid was selected, and 18 of the 87 sampled air contracts were sole-sourced with no documented rationale."

The sole-sourced contracts ranged in value from $22,000 to $5.7 million, the audit noted, adding one air broker landed 56 per cent of the work.

Frankly, investigating this level of corruption sounds like a job for the RCMP.

Oh, and in case all of that still isn't enough to fire O'Connor, how about this on top of everything else?

OTTAWA -- A massive backlog at National Defence means that 26,000 employees have not yet completed their security screening, according to a federal audit that raises serious questions about the clearance process in the department.

Not to state the obvious, but... :

"Personnel security clearances are the first line of defence against both domestic and international security threats," the audit said.

The audit said that issuing a security clearance to an "undeserving individual could . . . render security measures ineffective, thus subjecting people, classified information, and facilities and assets to unwarranted risk." Security problems would also affect "Canada's relationship and reputation with various member states of NATO," the audit said.

O'Connor: Worst.defence.minister.ever.

Update: O'Connor announced today that General Dynamics (a company O'Connor used to lobby for) has been awarded a $30 million DoD contract. How convenient.

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