OTTAWA - Former auditor general Denis Desautels will help the federal government reboot the F-35 acquisition through the country's new fighter jet procurement secretariat.
Desautels, who held the post between 1991 and 2001, and McMaster University economics professor Kenneth Norrie are two outside voices brought in to help civil servants buff up the Conservatives' credibility on the troubled effort to replace Canada's aging CF-18 fighters.
"I am very pleased that Mr. Desautels and Dr. Norrie will assist with this important work," Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose said in a statement.
"Their considerable experience providing informed, independent points of view on matters of public policy is welcome and will result in additional due diligence in support of the project."
Also staffing the new secretariat are deputy ministers from the public works, national defence and industry departments.
This all comes as part of the response to auditor general Michael Ferguson's April report that found the government bent procurement rules and underestimated the costs of buying the F-35 to replace the current fighter fleet.
"Canada will not purchase replacements until further due diligence, oversight and transparency are applied to this acquisition," Ambrose said.
Meantime, the new secretariat confirmed Wednesday it would not be able to meet the goal of providing Parliament with updated cost estimates for the
F-35 within 60 days of getting fresh numbers from the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program in the U.S.
The original timeline would have seen the new numbers reported in July.
Instead, the secretariat says it will need until fall to come up with independently verified, new cost estimates.