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Previous commitments tie Canadian Space Agency's hands

Press Release From: Office of the Auditor General of Canada
Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2002

Chapter 7: Canadian Space Agency -- Implementing the Canadian Space Program

Ottawa, 3 December 2002 -- Despite stable funding, the Canadian Space Agency is unable to carry out its required activities under the Canadian Space Program because of funding obligations that predate its creation, and the situation is likely to worsen in the next five years, says the Auditor General of Canada, Sheila Fraser, in her Report tabled today in the House of Commons.

"The hands of the Canadian Space Agency are tied," says Ms. Fraser. "It is unable to meet its existing commitments under the government-approved Canadian Space Program, and new initiatives must compete with existing programs for resources."

Perhaps best known for the Canadarm2 and the astronaut program, the Agency is highly visible both nationally and internationally. It co-ordinates civil space-related research, science, and technology; industrial development; and international co-operation for the federal government. The Agency's core business is managing projects involving industry, universities, and specialized research institutes; these contracts represent about 75 percent of the Agency's budget.

The Agency received $300 million in annual funding beginning in 2002-03. However, it has experienced significant cost increases in projects with international partners. In the next five years, Canada's share of the costs of operating the International Space Station will consume about a third of the Agency's annual budget, making fewer resources available for projects under the Canadian Space Program.

The Report recommends that the Agency develop a new strategic plan that would clearly outline objectives and funding requirements for ongoing projects and new ones it considers essential. The Auditor General notes that the Agency is in the process of significantly increasing its permanent workforce, a move she considers premature.

"It's up to the Canadian Space Agency to make the case for its projects and up to Parliament to decide how much Canada should invest in space research," says the Auditor General. "Only then should the Agency increase its permanent workforce."

The chapter "Canadian Space Agency—Implementing the Canadian Space Program" is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada Web site, http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/domino/reports.nsf/html/20021207ce.html

[Or available as a PDF file (656KB) at http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/domino/reports.nsf/html/20021207ce.html/$file/20021207ce.pdf]

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