DND employs integrated approach to equipment maintenance

ORLANDO – Canada’s National Department of Defence (DND) has implemented an integrated equipment and engineering maintenance approach to their services and equipment acquisitions, according to Kevin Radford of the DND.

Radford, director of materiel for policy and procedures at the DND, spoke to delegates at SAP’s Sapphire Conference in Orlando, Florida, about why it was so urgent for the department to take an integrated approach.

The system Radford outlined is referred to as MASIS (Materiel Acquisition and Support Information System). He noted that a prior Auditor General’s report on In-Service Support of Equipment outlined the need for the department to have a more integrated approach.

Radford said that essentially, they (the DND) “needed to get our act together”, with respect to information and acquisition management.

“We’re accountable for all acquisition for services and equipment,” said Radford.

Currently, the assistant deputy minister of materiel employs approximately 3,777 employees (civilian and military), and manages an annual budget of $2.8 billion for capital expenditures, and $2.4 billion for maintenance and upgrades.

Radford said that there is a transformation occurring within the Canadian forces, led in large part by Canada’s Chief of Defence Rick Hillier (who is set to retire this summer). Radford credits Hillier with recognizing the importance of integrated work being done within the department.

“This system (MASIS) from SAP will enable us to get that work done in and around the world in order to work towards a unified national command and control system, and to adopt a unified approach to operations,” he said.

And this type of transformation isn’t just occurring in the DND, it’s government-wide.

“If you look at the government- federal, provincial, municipal – they’re in the middle of a migration process,” according to Nigel Wallis, application services research manager with IDC Canada.

“They’re looking to more shared services models, and PWGSC (Public Works and Government Services Canada) is taking a leadership role in that, as they’re trying to be a leader in not just planning out these projects but delivering on services, and I think that’s really helped.”

By centralizing it, it also means they can start moving toward service oriented architecture (SOA), added Wallis.

“It doesn’t work very well when every department is running its own composite apps,” he said.

MASIS has been rolled out to the Canadian Navy, and is set to be deployed by August 2009 to the army and air force as well.

Radford also referenced the benchmarking that has occurred with organizational support across defence organizations, of which the findings included: critical stock shortages, priority demands were not being satisfied, no clear and coherent support strategy, inadequate asset tracking and visibility, and a segmented supply chain (as opposed to end-to-end).

He also outlined the “way ahead” for the DND when it comes to their acquisition and materiel management, which includes improved materiel acquisition and support.

To boost their future support environment, they will be purchasing $20 to $30 billion of capital equipment, and replacing their tanker fleet with joint support ships, he said.

“The army, navy and air force are starting to think together about operational requirements that we need, as opposed to operating in silos.”

He emphasized the need for effective accountability and control department-wide, and noted that the DND is introducing an In-Service Support Contracting Framework (ISSCF) for new acquisitions.

“We’re also trying to determine the best combination of in-house and outsourced support for each weapon system,” said Radford.

Radford stressed that in order to hold contractors accountable, they need to share information. He added they are also looking to have an Optimized Weapon System Management Support (OWSM) system, which would be similar to the ISSCF, but applies to in-service fleets.

“This will also help to address the multitude of contracts that exist for in-service support,” he added.

Ultimately, MASIS provides an integrated information system for the life cycle management of equipment, and is fully deployable linking the front line to individual units, headquarters and industry.

“It’s a key component of the electronic information environment for new equipment acquisitions and has been rolled out to over 3,000 users and is currently used by the Navy maintenance facilities on both coasts.”

Without MASIS, Radford said that the army has no capability to provide basic information on inventory readiness of fleets, vehicles and weapon systems, and would significantly impact DND’s ability to support the Afghanistan mission, as well as the operational planning and sustainability requirements for future missions.

The choice to go with SAP was made because they provide a foundation that supports DND materiel acquisition, and supply strategy objectives, said Radford.

“Ultimately, the inability to recognize and adapt to change will result in failure. Missions will fail, and lives will be lost.”

Related content:

Defence initiative gives Canadian Forces IT ammunition

Spotlight on Combat Camera, Department of National Defence

The rise and fall of the Government 2.0 Think Tank

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