Private contracts declining, Defence insists
OTTAWA - Boy, that was one heck of a coding error.
National Defence was put in the embarrassing position today of having to correct how it was going to spend $776 million in additional funding a few hours before appearing in front of a House of Commons committee.
According to both government spending estimates and a recent report by the parliamentary budget officer, the department was asking for more money to cover increased costs for contracted professional services.
But Defence Minister Peter MacKay told the Commons defence committee that the department incorrectly coded the request; the cash is actually for a revised severance program for military members.
MacKay had come under fire, both at the committee and in the Commons, for the dramatic surge in private contracting at the department.
It is something the Harper government promised to rein in, but public accounts figures show it increased by $500 million between 2009 and 2011.