07/11/2013 04:10 EDT | Updated 09/10/2013 05:12 EDT

F-35 consultant to advise Public Works on forthcoming shipbuilding contracts

OTTAWA - The consulting firm that crunched numbers for the Harper government on the troubled F-35 program is branching out to give advice on warships.

Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose announced that KPMG has been hired to give third-party expert opinions as projects unfold under the massive National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

The company was hired last year to validate numbers from National Defence on the stealth-fighter program and found the project could cost taxpayers as much as $44 billion for its planned four decades of service.

The Harper government released its shipbuilding strategy — worth a potential $33 billion over its lifetime — in fall 2011, creating long-term arrangements with two shipyards, in B.C. and Nova Scotia.

Federal officials have been negotiating since over the timing of individual ship contracts, proposals that KPMG will analyse.

The contract is worth $500,000 over three years with an option to extend for a decade.