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The House of Commons: Report to Canadians 2013

Report To
Canadians 2013

Performance Review
Strategic Objective 1
To respond to the changing needs of Members and the institution.
  • Improve the availability of up-to-date information on parliamentary procedures and rules
  • Enhance Members’ and Canadians’ access to parliamentary information
Projects
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Improving legislative services and support offered to Members of Parliament
The Working Group on Administrative Best Practices Related to Legislation has made a number of recommendations for improving the coordination of legislative services offered to Members of Parliament. These include encouraging greater internal and external sharing of information regarding roles and responsibilities related to the legislative process, streamlining the sharing of information between all internal actors supporting the legislative process, and identifying ways to make internal processes more efficient.

In 2012–2013, Committees and Legislative Services, working in partnership with Information Services and the Library of Parliament, designed and implemented an online consultation process to assist the Standing Committee on Finance in its pre-budget consultations.
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Compiling key procedural decisions delivered by Speaker Milliken and his fellow Chair occupants
The proceedings of the House of Commons are regulated by a vast body of rules and practices, not all of which are written into the Standing Orders. The rulings made by the Speaker of the House help inform future proceedings by adding weight to an established precedent or interpreting practice in a new context. Collections of the most significant rulings have been assembled at the close of each Speaker’s tenure since the 1970s.

Work on the book containing the rulings of former Speaker Peter Milliken continued in 2012–2013; the complete draft was approved and the text was formatted for publication. Preliminary work also began on the indexing of the book’s content.
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Enhancing the online versions of the Debates and the Evidence
The House of Commons Debates (also known as Hansard) is the edited verbatim report of proceedings that take place in the House of Commons. Available in both official languages the day after the House sits, it is produced directly from an audio recording of the proceedings as well as information provided by Debates staff stationed on the Chamber floor.

The Evidence is the edited report of committee proceedings and includes both remarks made by committee members and those made by witnesses. The Evidence is published only for public meetings or for those parts of a meeting that are held in public.

In 2012–2013, a number of initiatives were completed to improve the online versions of both the Debates and Evidence, including embedded links to audio and video files, improved sharing capabilities and new tools to provide greater online access to Members’ activities.

 
Enabling the greater use of technological tools by committees
Processes were reviewed to ensure that committee briefs can be published online in an efficient and easily accessible manner. Tools were also developed to help guide committees that wish to conduct e‑consultations.
Strategic Objective 2
To enhance ongoing services to Members and sustain the institution.
  • Advance the Long Term Vision and Plan to rehabilitate heritage buildings and grounds, and provide additional parliamentary accommodations
  • Maintain the flexibility of our technology infrastructure
  • Strengthen the guardianship of the institution
Projects
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Rehabilitating heritage buildings in the Parliamentary Precinct
As part of the ongoing work under the Long Term Vision and Plan, construction documents pertaining to the rehabilitation of the West Block, the Sir John A. Macdonald Building (formerly the Bank of Montreal Building) and the Wellington Building were reviewed at key milestones to ensure all parliamentary requirements were incorporated and submitted to Public Works and Government Services Canada. In addition, the Board of Internal Economy approved the design for the West Block and construction coordination has started on the Sir John A. Macdonald Building.

The West Block and Wellington Building will accommodate functions from the Centre Block during its renovation by providing space for the interim Chamber, committee rooms and parliamentary offices. The Sir John A. Macdonald Building will be used to permanently accommodate the special parliamentary events previously held in the West Block.

The House Administration also continued to play a lead role in planning, designing and implementing information technology services and infrastructure across the entire Parliamentary Precinct.

 
Increasing access within the Parliamentary Precinct
To better accommodate parliamentary access requests, room reservations and event support, the new Parliamentary Access and Reservation System (PARS) was developed and successfully launched in August 2012.
 
Ensuring the security of the Parliamentary Precinct
The Master Security Plan (MSP) principles are being adhered to and the plan’s implementation is an ongoing process. By centralizing the planning, development and implementation of security measures with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Senate Protective Service, the MSP is allowing for the creation of a safer, more secure environment within the Parliamentary Precinct for Members, House staff and visitors alike. The Perimeter Security Project, a core element of the MSP, was developed and approved and construction began in 2012. This project will limit vehicle entry points on Parliament Hill, and enhance perimeter surveillance without impeding pedestrian access. The project is consistent with the Long Term Vision and Plan principles and maintains a balance between openness, accessibility and security while respecting the heritage character and value of Parliament Hill.
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Providing Members with electronic, self-serve financial solutions
Following a pilot project in June 2012, all Members are now able to submit travel and office expense claims electronically via a self-serve online portal. Featuring automated, user-friendly forms with built-in controls and tutorial features, the portal has provided for greater accuracy and faster turnaround times from claim to payment.

The House Administration continues to explore other opportunities for moving from manual, paper-based processes to automated, electronic processes—all while ensuring the security of Members’ financial information.
Strategic Objective 3
To promote understanding and support the advancement of legislative institutions.
  • Enhance learning opportunities for parliamentarians and legislative officials from jurisdictions in Canada and abroad
  • Increase public awareness and sustain the independence and traditions of the House of Commons
Projects
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Publishing a third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice
In an institution as dynamic as the House of Commons, parliamentary practice is constantly evolving. The second edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which documents Canadian parliamentary procedure since Confederation, was published in 2009. Since then, a number of new practices and precedents have been established—making it necessary to once again prepare a revised edition.

Over the course of 2012–2013, drafters were identified for each of the chapters to be updated, an online collaboration tool was created, research was conducted and supporting documents were prepared for the writers, and training sessions for the writers were planned and delivered.

The third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice is scheduled for completion and publication in 2017–2018.

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Organizing and hosting the 127th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union
In October 2012, the Parliament of Canada hosted its largest-ever parliamentary conference: the 127th General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in the city of Québec, which was attended by some 1,500 delegates from more than 150 countries.

The conference was the culmination of many months of preparation by a dedicated team working in close collaboration with partners such as the Senate, the Library of Parliament, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, and various security agencies. The online registration system developed specifically for the conference was especially important as it helped overcome a number of anticipated logistical challenges.

By all accounts from delegates, speakers and the IPU Secretariat, the conference was a very successful event. The lessons learned from this experience will be applied to all future conferences hosted by Parliament.

Strategic Objective 4
To apply the highest standards of public sector governance in a parliamentary context.
  • Strengthen stewardship to ensure optimal management of public resources
  • Improve talent recruitment, engagement, succession and retention
  • Strengthen environmental management practices
  • Advance an integrated approach to information management
Projects
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Ensuring the optimal delivery of financial services
A number of changes have been identified for enhancing financial services within the House – for example, developing a centre of expertise for procurement, modernizing accounting operations, improving financial management services, and enhancing materiel and asset management services.

In 2012–2013, a new financial services delivery model was developed and implementation of the new model was initiated.
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Harmonizing of printing and mailing services
The review of the printing and mailing services at the House of Commons continued in 2012–2013, with work underway to consolidate the various One Stop Shops and Printing Services counters currently operating in buildings across the Parliamentary Precinct.

Phase II of this ongoing project saw the closure of the Confederation and 131 Queen Street Printing Services counters in January 2013; the Justice Building counter is set to be closed in June 2013.
 
Improving the way the House Administration conducts research
As part of a process to standardize, streamline and document the procedural research methodologies and tools used by the House Administration, an inventory of existing research holdings has identified several areas of duplication and opportunities for consolidation. One of four targeted projects is already underway; the other three are scheduled to start in 2013–2014.
 
Improving human resource management systems
In 2012–2013, new electronic applications were implemented to provide better services to employees while improving the quality of the available human resources management data. In particular, an online application was put in place that provides all employees with a self-service tool offering on-demand access to their pay and benefits information, ultimately reducing the need for paper pay statements. The management of workplace incidents will also be improved through the use of a new system that streamlines business processes and provides more accurate and timely data.