DND promises

The federal government this week announced military funding increases which it says will be “an excellent opportunity” for Canadian technology companies, but was short on specifics as to how the industry would benefit.

In the Canada First Defence Strategy, which includes previously-announced purchasing plans, the Department of National Defence (DND) said military spending will increase by two per cent per year beginning in 2011. Some of the funding will go towards new equipment, including artic patrol ships, Chinook helicopters, medium-load trucks and Hercules transport airplanes.

Although the Hercules is American, its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, announced last January it would subcontract wireless and other electronics work on the Super Hercules to three Canadian companies.

In addition to new equipment, the government plans to hire enough soldiers, sailors and Air Force members to bring the total uniformed headcount to 100,000 (including part-time reservists) from 89,000

Is it safe to assume these extra people will need desktop PCs, servers, network connectivity and other IT resources? If so, who will benefit and how?

Answers to these and other questions were hard to come by at press time. Military officers weren’t allowed to provide further details Tuesday, a Toronto-based public affairs officer said yesterday.

Two federal IT contractors, Dell Inc. and CGI Group Inc., aren’t saying much either.

Round Rock, Tex.-based

Dell, which recently announced the closure of its Ottawa tech support centre, was not speculating on whether more soldiers would mean more PC business. The vendor’s national corporate communications manager, Janet Fabri, wrote in an e-mail to ComputerWorld Canada: “The DND is a valued and longstanding Dell customer. We cannot comment or speculate on future business with them.”

Montreal-based service contractor CGI was also tight-lipped. “We aren’t in a position to comment on DND’s long term funding,” CGI communications director Yvonne Gibson wrote in an e-mail to ComputerWorld Canada Tuesday.

An official with the Information Technology Association of Canada was also unable to speculate.

“It doesn’t look to have a whole lot of implications for an IT spend,” said Lynda Leonard, ITACs senior vice-president.

In a background paper published Monday, the Department of National Defence stated plans to replace equipment “offer an excellent opportunity for Canadian industry to develop new technologies” and to “anticipate future requirements and greatly benefit from a modern and effective military.”

The paper goes on to state Canadian firms, including those in the tech industry, “will be able to take advantage of the predictability of the defence program to align their long-term manufacturing, support and research and development programs to better support procurement requirements.”

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