Breaking New Ground—Stories from Defence Construction Breaking_new_ground - Page 63

Other changes were underway, too, including an emphasis on bilingualism. Language training had begun to be offered in the 1960s; in June 1973, Parliament adopted the Official Languages Resolution, which resulted in DCL identifying all of its positions as to language requirements, and making arrangements so that those requirements could be met. In 1975, DCL received increased authority to enter into and increase contracts without Treasury Board approval, which reduced the time required to award many construction contracts. Later in the decade, the introduction of Short Tender Calls, intended to expedite smaller contracts, also proved a timesaver. Used on a trial basis in the Atlantic Region beginning on April 1, 1977, they were so successful that they were adopted nationally in January 1978. In a 2007 interview, Alec Lawson described the DCL approach: If you know what the hell you’re doing and have a person behind you that backs you, you can really accomplish good things, serving your country. That was the sort of atmosphere when I was there. Alec recalled being sent to Halifax in the late 1970s to troubleshoot a project that would see DCL and DND hit with a $50,000 penalty from Lockheed Martin for every day that the aircraft facilities weren’t completed. His report asked DCL for $300,000 to get the job finished on time—and Head Office agreed, saying that it was six days’ worth of penalties, and that sometimes you had to spend money to save money. Alec also commented on the growth of the relationship between DND and DCL, explaining that a much better rapport existed between the two organizations in the mid-1970s than there had been at the start in the early 1950s. DCL getting on with the job During this period of reorganization and renewed construction tempo, new recruits to DCL were quickly brought up to speed and provided with both responsibility and mentoring. Ian Ashton, technical advisor, recalls his introductory summer with DCL in Petawawa, between his first and second years of an engineering degree: I was impressed… with the degree of responsibility entrusted to me and level of support I received… Back then, everyone in the office, save the manager and the secretary, was a well-seasoned tradesman. Each one was full of technical know-how and flush with long stories (that) usually contained some relevance to the ongoing construction work… tricks of the trade, shortcuts to watch out for and tough lessons they had learned themselves. Anticipating the next steps In the mid-1970s, the federal Auditor General expressed concern about the financial management and control of Crown corporations. In 1976—eight years prior to such committees being made man