Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New headquarters to be built

David Pugliese reports ("East Ottawa slated to get new spy HQ: Ogilvie Road-area site tapped to house intercept agency," Ottawa Citizen, 12 May 2009) that the government will soon announce plans to construct a new headquarters complex for CSE. Known as the "Long-Term Accommodation Project" (LTAP), the plan will apparently provide new facilities for CSE's entire staff, leading to the eventual closing of CSE's current Heron Road campus.

The new building (or buildings), scheduled for completion in 2015-16, will be located at the same site as the "Mid-Term Accommodation Project" (MTAP) building announced last year (blogged here), on a plot of land adjacent to CSIS headquarters on Ogilvie Road.

All in all it's very big news for CSE.

And even more jaw-dropping is the building's projected cost! An estimate of the total cost of the LTAP can be found in DND's recently released 2009-2010 Report on Plans and Priorities. And that number is: $880 million!

Yolki palki, that's a lot of clams. I thought the MTAP was expensive at about $70 million to accommodate approximately 250 employees. If the LTAP houses 1600 or so, it will cost roughly twice the per employee amount of the MTAP.

Dollars to doughnuts

GCHQ's splashy high-tech headquarters building, the "Doughnut", cost only £337 million (about $600 million Canadian) when it was built five years ago, and it accommodates a staff of about 4000-4500, which would make the Canadian building about 3-4 times as expensive per person.

The explanation probably lies in the government's plan (revealed by UNDE) to have the private sector design, build, and operate the building over the course of a 30-year contract. GCHQ used the same approach with the Doughnut, with the total cost estimated to be £1.2 billion, or about $2.13 billion Canadian. That would put GCHQ's per person cost at about $500,000, which is virtually identical to the Canadian per person cost if the $880 million figure is taken to represent CSE's 30-year contract cost. It strikes me as strange that that entire sum would be listed as a "capital cost" in the Report on Plans and Priorities, but maybe that is the way such projects are listed, and the cost figures certainly seem to make more sense that way.


Blogger Pete said...

Hi Bill

Just when I was getting used to mainly staff size updates you produce a veritable avalanche of interesting posts.

Seems that CSE's cost attribution tactics are also used by regular government departments in Australia. The tactics appear to successfully satisfy/fool budgetary auditors, the public and pooliticians.


June 15, 2009 11:48 pm  
Blogger Bill Robinson said...

Hi, Pete.

Thanks for the comments. There has been a lot of interesting news recently, and I finally had a chance to do some catch up as well.

I'm not sure that CSE is trying to fool anyone with its budgetary information, but it does leave me somewhat confused. But maybe that's just me.



June 18, 2009 12:05 am  

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