Queen's University

Defence Department ignores experts' advice

2011-09-26

Queen’s University professor Douglas Bland is available to discuss his study that found Canada's Defence Department pays little attention to the advice of experts and parliamentarians, and reports seem to have no influence on government policy.

Dr. Bland’s report, entitled Let Sleeping Dogs Lie and co-written with researcher Richard Shimooka, looked at 3,500 confidential defence department documents obtained under the Access to Information Act. They wanted to examine the effectiveness of 15 studies over a period from 2000-2006.

“Our research reveals a decidedly defensive bureaucracy determined to tell ministers the truth they wanted to hear. Studies and reports, including those from Parliament, without fail, were dismissed, negated, and condemned especially by senior public servants. There is no evidence that any report was ever reviewed personally by any minister of national defence,” says Dr. Bland, who did the report for the Defence Management Studies program at the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies.

Dr. Bland’s report also found defence department insiders would publically say they welcome the studies submitted to them and it would be of great value. But confidential briefing notes obtained under the Access to Information Act show that inside NDHQ officials merely stuffed the studies in files once they were sure the media had lost interest in them.

A summary of the report is available upon request.

To arrange an interview, please contact Michael Onesi at michael.onesi@queensu.ca, 613.533.6000 ext. 77513, or Christina Archibald at christina.archibald@queensu.ca, 613.533.2877 Queen’s News and Media Services.

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