By Paul Wells - Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 33 Comments
I had an excellent day giving a speech to the Canadian Club of Kingston and chatting with students at Queen’s University. At 12:20 p.m. this email arrived from an official at Media Relations at the department of Public Works and Government Services Canada. It answers, after a fashion, questions I’ve had for a while about many hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of twice-announced cuts to federal spending.
Here’s the email in its entirety:
This information is for you follow-up questions you had last evening.
PWGSC has developed implementation plans for the results of our strategic review. Until we communicate these plans to stakeholders and employees, we are not in a position to provide greater details.
Budget 2011 provides a high-level overview of the strategic review decisions.
Maybe I should translate. Public Works knows what it will stop spending on, but it has not told the people who benefited from those programs (or laboured under the yoke of their inefficiency), nor has the department told, um, itself. So it can’t tell me. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 6:35 PM - 58 Comments
On Monday morning I wrote to three federal departments asking them about cuts listed, but nowhere explained, in the March version of the 2011 budget. I was certain the cuts would reappear without amendment in the June version of the 2011 budget. Here’s what I wrote to the media people at the department of Public Works and Government Services Canada:
The 2011 budget identifies nearly $173 million in cumulative strategic review savings for PWGSC through 2013-2014. These are identified but not explained in Table A1.12 of the budget document.
Please give me full explanations for how these savings will be realized.
I can be reached by email or at 613-xxx-xxxx.
Near-identical emails went to two other departments. There followed a bit of email and phone traffic as civil servants inquired about my deadlines. I also wrote to the PMO to let them know I was making these inquiries.
Frequent readers of this infrequent blog will be familiar with the subject of my curiosity. Here is Annex 1 of the 2011 federal budget – the link takes you to Monday’s “updated” version, which for this annex is identical in every way to the same section of the March budget. Here’s what Annex 1 is about:
“In 2010… 12 organizations undertook strategic reviews of their programs and spending. In addition, the Department of National Defence used the strategic review process to [slow its rate of spending growth]. This… has yielded savings of close to $1.6 billion in 2013–14, amounting to 4.9 per cent of the review base on an ongoing basis. As a result of these reviews, departments are streamlining operations, realigning their activities and transforming their organizations to deliver better programs and better results to Canadians.”
What’s important to understand here is that this section describes decisions on spending cuts that were taken in the past. The feds are also promising to come up with further cuts in the future, thanks to a new “Strategic and Operating Review” that will start in a few weeks or months. None of my questions are about those future cuts. I want to know what the government has already decided to stop spending money on.
I honestly thought a government dedicated to spending restraint would be eager to share the fruits of its careful scrutiny of the books. Wrong. Continue…