Royal Military College of Canada—National Defence

Opening Statement to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Royal Military College of Canada—National Defence

(Report 6—2017 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada)

1 March 2018

Michael Ferguson, Chartered Professional AccountantCPA, Chartered AccountantCA
Fellow Chartered Professional AccountantFCPA, Fellow Chartered AccountantFCA (New Brunswick)
Auditor General of Canada

Mr. Chair, thank you for this opportunity to discuss my 2017 fall report on the Royal Military College of Canada. Joining me today is Gordon Stock, the Principal responsible for the audit.

The Royal Military College of Canada, or RMC, is a federally funded university. While other universities can provide the undergraduate education that officers are required to have, only RMC has the mandate to provide that education in a military environment with a focus on military leadership, ethics, and training.

Our audit focused on two areas. First, it focused on whether RMC produced the quality of officers that the Canadian Armed Forces needed at a reasonable cost. Second, it focused on whether National Defence ensured the proper conduct of Officer Cadets and staff at RMC.

We concluded that RMC could not demonstrate that it produced officers at a reasonable cost, and we concluded that there were weaknesses in military training at RMC. RMC emphasized academic education over military training.

We found that the quality of RMC’s academic programs was good but that the operating cost per student to provide that education was the highest in Canada—about twice the average cost of a student at a similarly sized university. Several factors increased the operating cost per student, including the number of programs offered, the salaries of military staff in non-academic roles, and the very low student-to-faculty ratio.

We also found that the cost of educating and preparing Officer Cadets at RMC was almost twice that of producing Officer Cadets through other officer entry plans. The higher costs at RMC were partly attributed to higher standards that it sets for its graduates. However, National Defence could not demonstrate that these higher standards resulted in more effective officers than those of other officer entry plans.

Furthermore, we found that the governance structure of RMC was characterized by confusion and conflict between academic and military visions, and there was no clear mechanism to integrate academic and military objectives.

Finally, we found that RMC did not provide Officer Cadets with adequate training in leadership and in the proper conduct expected of future officers. RMC depends on its military training staff, academic faculty, and senior Officer Cadets to work together to enforce rules, teach leadership, and instill military ethics. We found that military staff did not always have the necessary skills or experience to instruct and guide Officer Cadets, and that the academic environment did not consistently support teaching military discipline and values. While RMC took action when serious incidents of misconduct were reported, the number of incidents involving senior Officer Cadets showed that RMC had not prepared them to serve as role models for their peers.

During our audit period, National Defence conducted its own assessment of the culture and training environment at RMC. We found that many of the assessment’s observations were relevant, and we included them in our report. However, in our opinion, the impact of the assessment is likely to be limited because more than half of its 79 recommendations did not recommend concrete actions but called for further study.

We made 6 recommendations to reduce operating costs, improve governance, and strengthen military training. National Defence has responded that it will address each recommendation.

Mr. Chair, this concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer any questions the Committee may have. Thank you.