After being taken to task more then once over it’s CF-18 replacement program numbers, the federal government is hiring consultants to ensure National Defence properly applies the advice of other consultants.

This week, the government, on behalf of the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat, awarded a $56,217.50 contract to Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton to conduct an independent review of the application of National Defence’s lifecycle cost estimates as part of the upcoming 2013 Annual Update to Parliament on the Next Generation Fighter Capability.

Last fall, KPMG was asked to develop a lifecycle cost framework to guide the development of cost estimates for the next-gen fighter program. This week’s contract, the government said in a release, is “to ensure that this framework is appropriately applied by National Defence and that the cost estimates in the upcoming 2013 Annual Update are sound.”

It added that the Secretariat would “manage the work conducted under this independent review, which will be completed after receipt of the annual costing forecasts from the Joint Strike Fighter Program office.”

Earlier this month, the Secretariat released a questionnaire to industry seeking detailed information on the technical capability of available fighter aircraft. That followed an earlier draft questionnaire that was sent to the five identified companies now contending for the program — Boeing, Dassault Aviation, EADS Eurofighter, Lockheed Martin and Saab. The work is being conducted under a seven-point plan that was issued following an Auditor General’s report in early 2012. A Deputy Minister Governance Committee is providing oversight of the plan, along with an external panel of independent experts. The government said it will not make a decision about the CF-18 replacement until all elements of the plan are complete.