The Government of Canada is
pleased to table its response to the Twenty-third Report of the Standing
Committee on Public Accounts, “Chapter 7, Acquisition of Leased Office Space
of the May 2006 Report of the Auditor General of Canada (Place Victoria)”, that was tabled in the House of Commons on December 10, 2009.
The Standing Committee on Public
Accounts considered the Place Victoria transaction portion of Chapter 7 of the
Auditor General’s May 2006 Status Report and heard testimony from senior
officials of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG), Public Works and Government
Services Canada (PWGSC), and the Economic Development Agency for the Regions of
Quebec. The Twenty-third Report of the Standing Committee reflects its
consideration of the Place Victoria transaction-related items noted in that
The Government of
Canada thanks the Standing Committee on Public Accounts for its Twenty-third
Report and welcomes its continuing interest in strengthening real property
management and the records of decisions related to the acquisition of leased
space in the federal government. This document provides the Government
Response to each of the two recommendations from the Twenty-third Report. The
Government agrees with both of the recommendations made by the Committee and
this Response demonstrates that the Government has acted and continues to act
on these recommendations.
PWGSC has put in place policies
and procedures to prevent a situation similar to the one that occurred at Place
Victoria in 2001 from re-occurring today. There are more numerous and
rigorous controls in place which ensure that the rules are followed. PWGSC has
been working more closely with client departments and agencies to introduce the
strengthened accommodation-related controls that are needed and to ensure that
they are familiar with and fully understand the policies and tools that are in
place. Results to date indicate that this enhanced regime has been functioning
as intended and that decisions are being made and documented effectively. This
has been corroborated by the internal audit survey report that was presented to
the Audit and Evaluation Committee in February of this year.
That PWGSC use its authority to
impose accommodation solutions when appropriate with the objective of enforcing
the government’s accommodation standards and obtaining the best value.
PWGSC bases its authority to
impose accommodation solutions on the Treasury Board (TB) Policy Framework
for the Management of Assets and Acquired Services. In order to better
exercise its authority under this policy when appropriate, and to obtain best
value, PWGSC has undertaken the following measures:
- An Accommodation
Standards Committee (ASC) has been in place since 2005 to review all client
requests that exceed the standards for accommodation and makes recommendations
to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Real Property. This detailed review ensures
that PWGSC accommodation standards are consistent nationally, enforced and
respected, and contribute to the containment of expenditures.
- A Lease Renewal
Functional Review is underway on a national basis to ensure that there is
adequate regional and national oversight and compliance in the lease renewal
process. It will also more accurately identify the sources and reasons for late
lease renewal files. This review will be completed by the end of March 2010.
This process is part of PWGSC’s key quality improvement commitments.
- An enhanced client
requirements checklist has been developed which better determines the general
accommodation requirements of clients, early in the process. The checklist
results in more rigour in the implementation of projects.
- Since 2007, the
National Project Management System (NPMS) has brought new rigour to the project
planning phase of every accommodation project. It is largely due to the NPMS that PWGSC has met
its target for having projects delivered on time, within the scope and budget;
over ninety percent of projects have met these objectives.
- The Real
Estate Financial Investment Toolkit (REFIT) is PWGSC's spreadsheet based
investment analysis tool. It provides a comprehensive financial analysis of
accommodation alternatives (Crown-owned property and leases in privately owned
(leased) property) and facilitates comparisons among mixed portfolios of
Crown-Owned and leased properties. Similarly, the Investment Analysis Report
(IAR) guide was updated in 2009 to also strengthen the role of IARs as
information, approval, accountability and performance measurement documents,
for meeting client requirements and ensuring the integrity of real property
That PWGSC follow the Treasury
Board Policy on Information Management by documenting and archiving all
management decisions related to leased accommodation for government departments
To better document and archive
all management decisions related to leasing, PWGSC has enhanced its business
processes through the following measures:
- The Lease Savings
Tracking System monitors progress against project savings and is a direct
response to a recommendation of the Auditor General. It tracks all significant
leases before the Real Property Investment Board and is updated monthly,
showing the status of every action and decision that is taken by the Board. Results
to date show that in every case that a project has been presented to the Real
Property Investment Board, the accommodation option that provided best value
has been adopted.
- The Planned Lease Action Report (PLAR) and associated directives and
documentation, help to ensure that lease renewals are timely and well
documented. The PLAR also contributes to achieving value for money solutions
through more advantageous rental rates that may result from negotiations. The
PLAR integrates several improvements for better and earlier monitoring of
- The Investment
Analysis Report and its risk management guide have been updated to ensure sound
stewardship and diligent oversight in the leased portfolio of buildings and
projects. New and enhanced treatment of risks are being applied.
- Processes in support
of the TB Policy on Information Management have been strengthened.
PWGSC uses an enhanced investment management framework to ensure that good
management practices are followed and appropriate real estate decisions are
made. As part of the investment management framework, advisory boards are
maintained that act as forums where real property strategies, projects,
and business-related issues are discussed. Records of decisions and
recommendations are prepared after each Board meeting.
- As part of the
National Project Management System noted above, compliance is monitored at each
phase of lease projects and in cases where non-compliance occurs, a Compliance
Monitoring Form is completed. The form records the nature of the request, the
costs, the recommendation of the project team, and the decision of the ADM.
- In addition, and to
fully support these efforts, Information Systems have been considerably
enhanced through such initiatives as: a) the NOVUS system solution currently
being established as part of the Real
Property Business and Systems Transformation Project; b) the Data Accountability and
Responsibility Framework which establishes clear accountability for the
stewardship of data and information; c) a sustainable learning environment
which promotes efficient and effective use of information systems; and d) a
robust data warehouse and suite of business intelligence tools that will
provide enhanced reports to senior managers.