Breaking New Ground—Stories from Defence Construction Breaking_new_ground - Page 78

Several early retirement programs in the mid- and late 1980s (similar to ones introduced in the Public Service) led to a number of voluntary early retirements. The turnover of personnel at management and other levels created new challenges and opportunities for the company—at one point, every member of the Management Committee had less than a year’s experience in their positions. It also created a financial issue: by early 1989, the cost of these programs threatened the Corporation with a budgetary shortage. Driving change from the outside in: the NAADM joint project office By the early 1980s, a new threat had emerged: long-range, low-flying cruise missiles launched from bombers or submarines. As had happened before, a new air defence system was therefore required. At the March 1985 “Shamrock Summit” between Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, the North American Air Defence Modernization (NAADM) Agreement was signed, signalling one of the largest projects that DCC would undertake in the 1980s and early 1990s. Its first phase, the $1.5 billion North Warning System (NWS), would replace both the DEW and Pinetree Lines that had been designed to deal with earlier, now-outdated threats. DCC Ottawa employees attend a farewell breakfast at the Château Laurier in honour of DCC President Joe Bland’s retirement in 1984. With the costs of the system split 60/40 between the United States and Canada, DCC was responsible for constructing the 47 Canadian sites and supplying the communications system, while our neighbour to the south supplied the radar equipment. The scope of the project was a challenge on its own—but added to it was the urgent need for the system, which triggered a very short construction schedule. With NAADM and the other projects that were underway, the existing project delivery system was simply unable to cope. In a move that would signal a new direction in the relationship between DCC and DND, the two organizations worked together to find ways to respond: for the first time, they set up a joint project office. DCC’s former Vice-President of Operations, Steve Irwin, was DND’s Director General Infrastructure in the mid-1990s (he retired from the CF as Chief Military Engineer (CME) at the rank of Brigadier-General). He saw firsthand the way that DCC worked together when he was the Base Construction Engineering Officer at CFB Borden in the 1970s. Although there was certainly a degree of cooperation between the two organizations, it depended a great deal on the personalities involved on both sides of the equation. The NAADM joint project office, however, formalized a team approach that was novel—and effective. 68 BREAKING NEW GROUND DEFENCE CONSTRUCTION CANADA