OTTAWA — National Defence is struggling to implement a program to give the military less administrative tail and more operational teeth, which was a signature initiative of the outgoing Conservative government. Documents, written earlier this year and obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information legislation, show officials running the Defence Renewal Program are searching for more ways to meet the government's goal of finding between $750 million and $1.2 billion annually in departmental savings. The plan, as announced in the fall of 2013, was to divert savings from redundant programs to front-line initiatives. The program was supposed to be fully in place by the 2017-18 budget year, but the memos suggest the department needs more time, possibly as much as two years. A briefing prepared for former defence minister Rob Nicholson, on Jan. 16, 2015, says a cumulative total of only $146 million in saving opportunities had been earmarked to the end of the fiscal year at the end of March. Maj. Doug McNair, a spokesman for the renewal team, says that figure was eventually bumped up to $158 million.
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