Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 2 2010 Contents 18 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
During the week of 15 March, the Sydney Morning Herald published a series of articles that questioned the legitimacy
and appropriateness of a number of Defence contracts and other expenditures. It also painted a picture of Defence
being a profligate organisation.
By way of background, on 27 February 2010, a Sydney Morning Herald journalist made an initial inquiry to Defence
seeking answers to 55 questions that addressed contracts and expenditure across all Groups and Services going
back several years. Many of the issues raised were wide-ranging and required detailed answers. Defence provided
responses to all of the questions put by the journalist.
Message from the Secretary and Chief of the Defence Force
While we are satisfied that, with relatively few
exceptions, the expenditures covered by the
Sydney Morning Herald’s questions are both
legitimate and reasonable, a number of the
matters raised reflect unfavourably on particular
decisions taken by delegates, and affect Defence’s
reputation more broadly.
We believe that Defence has a real opportunity to
learn lessons from this exercise and to emerge as
a stronger organisation as a result. And we will do
so. To do so we need to do more to instil a culture
of greater cost-consciousness across Defence.
And we need to do more to assure the robustness
of our spending and procurement processes.
The Government has consided the implementation
plan for the Strategic Reform Program (SRP). The
plan has been under development since May 2009
and provides a very detailed blue-print for deep
reform in Defence, including the delivery of $20
billion in savings during the next decade which
will be reinvested in Defence capability that is
essential to deliver Force 2030.
At the heart of the SRP is the imperative for all
of us in Defence to conduct our business more
effectively and more efficiently. This starts with
decisions that individuals take each day, including
on the expenditure of Australian taxpayers funds
provided as part of the Defence budget.
The Minister for Defence, Senator Faulkner, has
been very clear about the need for Defence to use
its resources more efficiently, effectively and most
A culture of discipline and cost-consciousness
must underpin our everyday operations and
decision-making. This is integral to responding to
criticisms of our spending decisions. It will also be
integral to the success of the SRP.
We ask all managers, commanders and those
exercising delegations to approach their business
with these imperatives of discipline and cost-
consciousness in mind. We must all recognise and
take seriously our accountability for the effective
and efficient use of Defence resources.
Before we commit to expend funds we should
ask ourselves some simple questions. Is this
necessary? Is it value for money? Can we do
better? Is it publicly defensible? We ask delegates
and managers to pay particular attention to
justifying and documenting their decisions.
Moreover, if your procurement decision will be
lodged on the AusTender database make sure that
the description of the goods or services is complete
and clear, ensure that the figures are accurate,
and ensure that you maintain comprehensive
and easily-accessible records that can be made
available for future review if required.
As a final comment, most of the areas of
expenditure that have been covered by the Sydney
Morning Herald articles will be the subject of
further scrutiny as part of the SRP. Any not covered
will now be subject to scrutiny in other ways.
While uncomfortable in parts, the Sydney Morning
Herald articles are a timely reminder for us all
of the need to reflect carefully on the decisions
we take in our day-to-day activities as we work
to reform Defence. We have no doubt that we
will all learn from our recent experience. We will
provide further guidance as we move into the
implementation phase of the SRP.
The Minister for Defence strongly supports the
publication of all the responses as another way
of enhancing transparency and accountability
and encouraging greater cost-consciousness in
Defence. So do we.
Defence’s full response to the Sydney Morning Herald can be viewed on the Defence website, at:
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