Executive (In) Decision? Explaining Delays in Canada's Defence Procurement System, 2006-2015

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Collins, Jeffrey




This dissertation asks how delays in Canada's defence procurement system can be explained. In answering this question, the hypothesis tested is that of the 'political executive'; the political body composed of the prime minister, cabinet and their advisors who sit at the apex of the federal government. With final decision-making powers over defence policy and budgets, the political executive has been inferred in existing scholarship as a decisive factor in delaying Major Crown Projects (MCPs) from moving through the procurement process but this has never been the subject to a scholarly analysis. Three other independent variables commonly identified in the literature as causing procurement delays were tested alongside the political executive: (1) the defence procurement bureaucracy; (2) the defence industry; (3) and Canada's military alliances and involvement in the Afghanistan war (2001-2014). Delays are treated as the dependent variable and are defined as a MCP not meeting its original planned project milestone dates. The dissertation relied upon four case studies in performing this analysis: The Joint Support Ships, the Medium Support Vehicle System - Standard Military Patter trucks, the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue aircraft, and the Halifax-class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension. All four trace their beginnings to the Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien (1993-2003) and Paul Martin (2003-2006), but it was under the Stephen Harper Conservative government (2006-2015) that all were adopted into that government's procurement plans and it is in this period where delays occurred, for the first three case studies, and where apparent success was established with the fourth, the Halifax-class Modernization. (The first three case studies all experienced delays and are anywhere from seven to fourteen years behind their original schedule.) Relying upon process-tracing and the bureaucratic politics framework, this research concluded with a hypothesis not completely proven: the political executive can partly account for delays by not establishing clear policy guidance and governance models before a MCP reaches the project definition stage; however, a complete accounting for procurement delays is not possible without factoring in at least one the three independent variables, especially the defence procurement bureaucracy.


Public Administration




Carleton University

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Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Science

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Theses and Dissertations

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