Katherine Ziesing | Canberra
While many eyes were on the aircraft at Avalon, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade held their hearing into the Defence Annual Report 2015-2016.
Of interest to keen ADM readers will be a snippet from Vice Chief of the Defence Force Vice Admiral Griggs on the highly anticipated website to support the Integrated Investment Plan (IIP), which has still not broken cover a year after the hard copy debuted alongside the White Paper and Defence Industry Policy Statement.
Mr Feeney: When, can you tell us, will the online version of the integrated investment plan arrive? And can you tell us what it will add? Can you tell us when are you imagining it will go online? And will the document, after it goes online, be an organic document or will it be something that is released – a fire and forget?
VADM Griggs: No, it will not be a fire and forget. I heard bits and pieces of the evidence from ASPI this morning. We anticipate in the next couple of months to go online, and it will evolve. There were certainly some suggestions made this morning that we would look at, but I also do not think that the 2006 and 2012 public DCP's were the panaceas to everything either. Our aim is for it not to be fire and forget but for it to be probably updated twice a year, if we could do that. I think that would be very useful, and that would align with our biannual reporting to government on the state of the integrated investment plan.
Mr Feeney: In the next couple of months?
VADM Griggs: In the next couple, yes.
ADM Comment: Regular ADM readers will note that this website has been a hobbyhorse of mine for the last 12 months. While there is much to admire about the trifecta of policy documents released last year, the reforms efforts under the First Principles Review, and the One Defence approach, the lack of granularity around the IIP is vexing.
As VADM Griggs notes, the old DCP was not the holy grail of planning but it did provide a valuable resource to industry looking to plan its workforce and future efforts. In terms of scope, budget, timelines and contact details it was an excellent resource. The IIP is many wonderful things but detailed timelines and budgets are not elements it can boast.
This point was also made by ASPI’s Dr Mark Thomson at the same hearing where he found that Defence could do better across three areas:
On his last point, Dr Thomson commented: “It is my understanding that Defence has made great progress in tracking both the cost and the status of its various military capabilities. It is disappointing, therefore, that the improved internal understanding has been accompanied by a drastic reduction in public disclosure”.
ASPI’s Andrew Davies was also eloquent in his comparison with the US system, which provides vastly more data than Australian counterparts. His statement can be found here.
When it comes to the IIP website, rest assured that I will continue to ride this hobbyhorse until I see it available to Defence industry and the wider public.