March 2020 - Independent Review Panel for Defence Acquisition (IRPDA)

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Panel Members

Mr. Larry Murray (Chair) - former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and acting Chief of the Defence Staff; former Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, and Fisheries & Oceans

Mr. Martin Gagné - former Group President (Defence and Security) for Canadian company, CAE Inc.; former Royal Canadian Air Force officer

Mr. Philippe Lagassé - Associate Professor, Carleton University; independent reviewer of the 2012-14 evaluation of options to replace CF-18 fighter jets.

Ms. Margaret Purdy - former Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence; former member of the Minister’s Advisory Panel for the Defence Policy Review

Ms. Christine Tovee - aerospace engineer; former VP and Chief Technology Officer for Airbus Group


To help validate the requirements for major military procurements by providing independent, third-party advice to the Minister of National Defence and Deputy Minister before project approval. The criteria for Panel engagement is:

  • Projects of $100M or more;
  • Projects with significant risk or complexity;
  • Projects identified for Treasury Board approval;
  • Projects identified for independent challenge by the Minister or Deputy Minister

The Panel generally reviews each project twice early in the procurement process, when high-level requirements and options are being developed. Panel advice is submitted to the Minister before Ministerial approval is sought to proceed into the Definition phase.

Key facts

Executive Director:

  • Mr. Jean-François Morel

Total Employees:

  • 5 Governor-in-Council appointed Panel members, and 8 full-time employees in the support office


  • $1.6M ($1.4M salary & $200K Operations & Maintenance)

Primary location(s):

  • 60 Queen St., Ottawa


  • Operational since June 2015, the Panel meets monthly, reviewing 3-4 projects at each meeting

58 reviewed projects (including a special review of the Canadian Coast Guard fleet) and 33 written pieces of advice submitted to the Minister, as of Aug 2019

Key Partners


  • Project Sponsors (i.e. Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, etc.)
  • Project Implementers (i.e. Assistant Deputy Minister for Material, Assistant Deputy Minister for Infrastructure & Environment, etc.)
  • Chief of Force Development


  • Treasury Board - While it is beyond the mandate of the Panel to deliver advice directly to Treasury Board, it is within the Minister’s discretion to forward a copy of the advice for any project.

Top issues for the Independent Review Panel for Defence Acquisition

Forthcoming Advice

The Minister of National Defence can expect to soon receive written advice from the Panel, including on the following major procurement projects:


Forward Agenda

  • The Terms of Reference for the Panel are sufficiently flexible to allow meaningful and timely engagement on priority projects, including under compressed timelines
  • The Panel carefully synchronizes its agenda with Departmental priorities, to deliver reliable and timely advice to the Minister
  • The Panel continues to consider its review process to ensure it is best supporting senior decision-making

Agile Approaches to Procurement

  • In the Panel’s view, the traditional lengthy approach to defence procurement is increasingly ill-suited to a world of quickly evolving/complex technologies
  • The Panel is reassured to see that the Department is exploring various ways to procure complex capabilities in a more agile and flexible way
  • The Panel will continue to support innovative approaches in this area

High-Level Mandatory Requirements

  • High-level mandatory requirements are established early in the procurement process, and are central to the Panel’s review
  • They should define the capability elements that a procurement project must address; be clear, specific and measurable; and serve as the measures of success for a project
  • However, the use of high-level mandatory requirements remains inconsistent, and the Panel is encouraging the Department to refine its approach in this regard

Capability-Based Options

  • The Panel has been a consistent proponent of using capability-based options in procurement decision-making
  • The Panel assesses that capability-based options better highlight risks and trade-offs, provide more space for innovative solutions, and lead to more informed decision-making than procurement-based options (buy, lease, etc.)

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