Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shacking up with CSIS

The Supplementary Estimates (B) for 2007-08 confirm that CSE is getting a new building. The project definition phase of the Mid-Term Accommodations Project is budgeted at $1.296 million. "Mid-Term" presumably means that the building is not a short-term response to the agency's growth, like the two new buildings recently constructed beside the Tilley and Drake buildings, but still not a long-term solution to CSE's scattered accommodations.

According to the Mid-Term Accommodations Project page in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Registry, the four-storey 6000-square-metre building will not be constructed on the current CSE campus. Instead, the plan is to build it on a greenfield site at Bathgate Drive and Ogilvie Road in Ottawa's east end. Why so far from the rest of CSE? Availability of land may be one factor. But it probably has more to do with the site's neighbour immediately to the northeast. That triangular building is CSIS headquarters. The much increased focus on security intelligence within CSE in recent years presumably gives the two agencies much to talk about.

Given its size, the new building will likely accommodate only about 200–300 people, or about 15% of CSE's staff, confirming that it is not the solution to CSE's overall accommodation needs that was promised by then-Chief Keith Coulter in 2005. It also presumably does not account for very much of the $43 million promised to CSE in the recent federal budget, suggesting that the supercomputer hypothesis may be the more likely explanation.

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