Matt Gurney: DNDs army of bureaucrats increases faster than troops
Late last year, after years of looking for the right location, the Ministry of National Defence finalized plans to take over a large complex of office buildings in Ottawa. The militarys existing nerve centre, the National Defence Headquarters, is an old building, filled to capacity. Staff is spread all across Ottawa, filling up offices in whatever government buildings can hold them. Moving a significant portion of the DND workforce to a new central location will obviously improve efficiency and hopefully help bring down costs. And thats great. But then this caught my eye (emphasis added):
DNDs ever-increasing demand for office space is fuelled by massive growth in the number of employees, whose numbers went up 31% between 2005 and 2008, and are still rising. The documents show that the number of DND employees in the capital region, which stands at 16,200, is projected to increase to 19,800 by 2013
Put another way, our current government, despite all its tough-talk about supporting the troops, has been able to add bureaucrats at 300% the rate theyve added uniformed personnel, with more to come. So, by all means, support the troops. Just make sure theres enough paper pushers in place first. The most current available numbers for the full-time strength of the Canadian Forces is 69,022, as of Dec. 31, 2010. Thats up from 62,703 in March of 2006, when the Conservatives first took power. That works out to be about a 10% increase, and thats obviously a good thing. The military was starved for troops, and the army, in particular, needed boots on the ground to sustain the mission in Afghanistan (as of Dec. 31, the army had 36,717 soldiers). The military of a G8 power, a NATO member with a trillion-dollar-plus economy, really ought to be larger, but a 10% increase is nothing to sniff at.
But when you examine the numbers for 2005-2008, the years cited above for the 31% increase in civilian staff at DND, things look worse. In March of 2005, the Canadian Forces had 61,460 personnel. In March of 2008, it had soared to 64,397. Thats a gain of 2,937, or less than five percent over three years. The same three years, recall, that the bureaucracy added 31% to its ranks. No wonder theyre running out of office space. Maybe they should start sending the civilians to work in barracks. Theres probably plenty of room there.
After the decade of neglect under the Liberals, its perfectly understandable that National Defence needed to add some staff, especially as the war in Afghanistan heated up and the current expansion and modernization of the Forces got under way. And though taxpayers may grumble, bureaucracy is essential for the effective operation of any organization. And, yes, the military will experience a higher rate of attrition than the civil service. But even so, for a pro-military, anti-big government party, DND office buildings filling to capacity while the army scrambled to find troops to send off to war is lousy optics. Never has the old saying, The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy seemed more apt.
Meanwhile, its being reported that the civilian staff, which currently stands at 28,500 members (or 80% of the strength of the CFs Reserves), is not only expanding rapidly, but has already expanded past its maximum authorized level of 25,000 employees and is now being targetted by the government for some reductions, at least bringing it back to its authorized level. Good news, one might think. Until you consider how many bureaucrats and consultants will be needed to shrink the size of the existing bureaucracy, and how big their office budgets will be, and where theyll be housed