Good morning to you and good morning to members of the committee. Thank you for inviting the Privy Council Office to review our 2015-16 departmental performance report, and as indicated, the 2016-17 supplementary estimates (C).
I'm accompanied by Ms. Kami Ramcharan, assistant deputy minister, corporate services branch, and chief financial officer of the Privy Council Office.
My introductory remarks will be brief so that we may turn quickly to the questions of the committee.
As you know, the mandate of PCO is to provide professional, non-partisan advice and support to the and ministers within his portfolio and to support the effective operation of cabinet. As a central agency, PCO exerts a leadership role across government to departments and agencies to ensure the coherence and coordination of policy development and delivery.
As identified in the departmental performance report, in 2015-16 PCO provided advice and service to two prime ministers and their respective portfolio ministers and cabinets, and successfully facilitated the transition from one government to another following the 2015 federal election. We advised on, developed, and delivered a number of key components in support of the government's agenda, including development and publication of ministerial mandate letters, the throne speech, budgets 2015 and 2016, and two first ministers meetings with the provinces and territories. As members know, a third first ministers meeting was held in December 2016.
We performed a central advisory and coordination role in the creation of the cabinet committee on agenda, results, and communications and the creation of the results and delivery unit of PCO in support of the government's commitment to deliver results to Canadians.
Finally, we advised and supported the , portfolio ministers, and cabinet during their first 150 days in office and on advancing Canada's presence and interests at international events, such as the G20 summit, the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, the Conference of the Parties 21 in Paris on climate change, the 2016 nuclear security summit, and the first state visit to Washington, D.C. All of that was in 2015-16.
Budget 2016 identified a number of needs and initiatives that require investments in PCO's capacity to support the Prime Minister and the government in the delivery of their agenda. Some of the additional authorities supporting new and modern IT infrastructure and security platforms, and enhanced digital communications, were approved through supplementary estimates (A).
In addition, the resources approved through supplementary estimates (B) included funding for the following: enhanced engagement with provinces and territories as well as municipalities and indigenous groups, requiring added resources in the Intergovernmental Affairs Secretariat of PCO, serving the as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; support for the ; active engagement with youth through a Youth Secretariat, serving the Prime Minister as Minister for Youth; a focus on outcomes and results for Canadians through a new Results and Delivery Unit, housed in PCO; a more open, transparent and merit-based appointments policy requiring added resources in our Senior Personnel Secretariat; and responsiveness to evolving threats to our national security by bolstering the capacity under the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister.
Turning to 2016-2017 supplementary estimates (C), PCO is seeking spending authority of $4.0 million, supplementary to $157 million of authorities to date resulting in total authorities of $161 million in the current fiscal year. Specifically we are seeking approval for an additional $3.8 million in resources that enabled PCO to support the Minister of Democratic Institutions' activities related to electoral reform and $150,000 for the Access Control and Physical Security Project at PCO.
For electoral reform, $3.3 million of the total $3.8 million funding was to support the following activities: engagement of Canadians through a series of outreach events including 17 ministerial town halls across the country, with the participation of approximately 2,000 Canadians; the creation of an interactive and online engagement application, MyDemocracy.ca, that allowed Canadians to identify the values and features of a democratic system that are the most important to them. These one-time communications and engagement activities required the support of 4.5 FTEs.
The remaining $500,000 of the $3.8 million request for electoral reform covers paid digital advertising to achieve greater citizen engagement in the electoral reform consultations.
The final item in these supplementary estimates is $150,000 used for the planning, procurement, and implementation of the access control and physical security project.
Budget 2016 provided funding to strengthen security and make required investments in life-cycle updates to systems and buildings. Given the evolving threat environment both in Canada and abroad, PCO's focus includes better securing the perimeter of its facilities to prevent unauthorized entry and enable PCO and the Office of the Prime Minister to function in a safe and secure manner. The funding for the access control and physical security project included 0.7 full-time equivalents.
This summarizes the initiatives to be funded through PCO's proposed supplementary estimates (C).
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to the questions of the committee.
Mr. Chair, we are pleased to appear before your committee to discuss Shared Services Canada's 2016-2017 supplementary estimates (C) and the 2015-2016 departmental performance report.
My name is Graham Barr, the Acting Senior Assistant Deputy Minister for Strategy, and I am accompanied by Samantha Hazen, Acting Director General of Finance and Deputy Chief Financial Officer,who will discuss our supplementary estimates (C). I will be focusing on our departmental performance report and related activities.
Shared Services Canada was created in 2011 to modernize how the government manages its information technology infrastructure. We deliver email, data centre, network, and workplace technology device services to departments and agencies in a consolidated manner to support the delivery of government programs and services.
Over the past several months and throughout 2015-16, we spent a lot of time and effort in improving our business model to better deliver on our priorities. We have strengthened our “service first” approach to better listen to our customers, take account of industry trends and changes, and deliver value-added services to our customer organizations and the Canadians they serve.
In 2015-16, Shared Services Canada continued its work to upgrade out-of-date mission-critical infrastructure across the government and enhance cybersecurity measures to assure the delivery of vital services to Canadians.
Our efforts have been supported by an investment of $460 million in Budget 2016.
SSC also played a key role in helping support the whole-of-government effort to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada.
Our department worked tirelessly to rapidly install the necessary IT for the first welcome centres in Toronto and Montreal. This was carried out in close collaboration with multiple departments, local airport authorities, the Canadian Red Cross, Ontario and Quebec law enforcement, and numerous vendors and contractors.
In 2015-16, Shared Services Canada launched a number of initiatives to strengthen service delivery to partners. This included an online catalogue of all IT services offered by SSC to our customers. We also launched a monthly customer satisfaction feedback initiative to help us continuously improve our products, services, and processes, and in a year we've seen improvements in our results.
We have also continued to modernize and simplify our procurement practices by developing, among other activities, a system to electronically manage the procurement to payment process. We have also taken steps to ensure all our customers can obtain modern enterprise video conferencing services that support the government-wide commitment to a mobile and connected workforce from coast to coast to coast.
Towards the end of 2015-16, SSC launched a comprehensive review of its plan to consolidate and modernize the Government of Canada's IT infrastructure to ensure that the scope, costs, and timelines are realistic.
These are just some of our activities for the 2015-2016 reporting period, as part of our efforts to build a modern, secure and reliable platform for the digital delivery of programs and services to Canadians.
I would now like to turn to my colleague Samantha Hazen, who will discuss our supplementary estimates (C).
For this third and final round of estimates for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, Shared Services Canada is seeking an additional $34.2 million.
This includes $3.2 million in incremental funding to provide information technology services to our customer departments and agencies.
This funding will support new government employees with a suite of standard services such as cellphones and Internet access. It will also support a project led by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on the DNA analysis of insect and plant collections, for which SSC is providing computing capacity, storage, and ongoing maintenance.
These estimates also show that Shared Services Canada is receiving $31 million in transfers from other organizations. This includes $14.4 million from Statistics Canada to stabilize a legacy data centre as well as to support them in carrying out a number of surveys over the next few months.
This work will help reinforce the constructive working relationship we have established with Statistics Canada.
Working closely together we will indeed achieve a great deal. This includes, for example, the fact that Canadians were able to participate in record numbers in the 2016 Census using Shared Services Canada's networks.
These estimates also include a transfer request of $9.3 million from Public Services and Procurement Canada to support various initiatives, including the department's pay operations. For example, we rapidly helped to establish call centres in Ottawa and Toronto last fall in less than two weeks in collaboration with the IT industry. Following this success, SSC went on to implement other related solutions, including a claims centre for Treasury Board Secretariat. These additional centres were also completed quickly to meet the urgent business needs of our customers.
Finally, through the supplementary estimates, we are reprofiling funds to future years.
That includes $52 million in support of the Carling campus initiative to consolidate a large part of the Department of National Defence's headquarters function at Nortel's former campus. This is a large multi-year infrastructure project led by Public Services and Procurement Canada as the custodian. Shared Services Canada is responsible for all communication equipment, connectivity, and information management and information technology to support DND's business operations.
I'm pleased to note that after four years of work, the first wave of DND employees moved into the newly refurbished, updated, and upgraded Carling campus in January 2017. All employees were well equipped with IT tools and services to deliver on their roles and responsibilities.
Currently, the move is on track to be completed by 2019. However, due to some delays related to construction, some of the funding Shared Services Canada had planned for 2016-2017 is now planned for 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.
That completes our opening statement. We would now be very happy to take your questions.
The purpose of our transformation plan is to chart the way forward for the consolidation of the government's email, data centre, and network systems. Before the creation of Shared Services Canada, SSC's customer departments had 63 different email systems, 50 different wide-area networks, and over 500 different data centres. The vision of our transformation plan is to consolidate that, to streamline and modernize it so that we can build the IT platform for the delivery of services to Canadians.
As you've noted, towards the end of 2015-16 we launched a comprehensive review of that plan to consolidate and modernize IT infrastructure. We based our review on the lessons learned from our early years. In the fall, we also undertook a broad-based consultation with Canadians, with industry, with federal public servants, and with departmental CIOs, all aimed at ensuring we get the best possible advice and input from the various stakeholders to shape the plan.
Under the leadership of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, an external review was launched in the late summer. That review involved the services of an expert panel, a panel of experts from different jurisdictions who had undertaken IT consolidation and modernization efforts before. All that work was undertaken during the summer, fall, and early winter of the past year.
We're in the stage now of analyzing everything we heard through the consultations. The expert panel and the independent review process is wrapping up, so our goal is to have a new, revised transformation plan that will be ready for consideration by ministers and that will have more realistic time frames and scope to chart the way forward.
We continue to conduct our satisfaction survey on a monthly basis. Our most recent results, for the month of January 2017, indicated a score of 3.1, our highest ever. That may seem like a small increase, from 2.79 to 3.1, but it's an increase that's important to us. It validates the various service improvements we have been able to put in place despite some of the challenges we face.
It's encouraging for the morale of SSC employees as well, and it's helping us start to restore our customers' confidence in Shared Services Canada.
We will continue to conduct a survey on a monthly basis and we look forward to even better results in the future.
No. There remains a primary oversight responsibility for the Clerk of the Privy Council, as head of the public service, to take this matter seriously and to ensure that it is fixed. All the resources are being applied to addressing the very real challenge that Phoenix has posed to the public service and to public servants.
That, of course, has meant ensuring that we are bolstering the resources of the procurement department to manage this pressure through additional centres, that we are focusing on ensuring that individuals are paid accurately, that we are addressing the backlog that was identified, and so forth.
In short, what the clerk is ensuring is that through regular meetings between himself and the deputy minister and through the action of the Privy Council, we are satisfying ourselves that all efforts are being made to resolve this issue as quickly and as effectively as possible.
I also have some questions for Shared Services, I suppose Ms. Hazen particularly, because they are on the supplementary estimates.
Just last week we learned of a memo from the RCMP commissioner to the Minister of Public Safety with a long list of complaints about a lack of IT support, faulty telephone headsets for 911 dispatchers, long network computer outages that affected officer dispatch and mission-critical databases, and computer hardware failures that resulted in some permanent losses of police information.
I wonder if the funds that are being requested in these supplementary estimates will fix those problems.
Thanks for the question.
We have recently made changes to improve the services that we provide to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We formed a joint task force with the RCMP in November 2015 to address critical issues, and we have made some progress. We're using financing funding received through budget 2016 to replace aging telephony equipment, networks, and storage for the RCMP. There have been, as the member notes, recent outages in support for RCMP services and programs. The most recent one on January 19, 2017, was not, in fact, caused by network equipment that was well past the end of its life. That network equipment still had a useful life until 2020, was under maintenance contract, and also was receiving software patches on a regular basis. Nevertheless, we will be replacing that network equipment.
With respect to some of the other incidents that were noted, Shared Services Canada has been working really closely with the RCMP, whether it was on the site of the Fort McMurray wildfire or in Moncton to ensure that federal emergency response providers had all the IT equipment they needed to do their jobs, including cellular phones, Internet connectivity, security firewalls, etc. There is some improvement to be made, but we have taken concrete action over the past year in this regard.
Thank you to the witnesses.
I want to touch a bit on Shared Services. I can appreciate the questions from Mr. McCauley. The thing that's becoming evident is the pattern that's being developed, whether it's with email or Phoenix. There are always upfront costs to implementing a transformation plan or a major IT project, but when you set it up to fail or, as the Auditor General said, when you cut $75 million out of the budget right up front.... Perhaps Mr. McCauley would like to ask the leader of the official opposition, who I believe was the minister back then. She would probably have those answers on why they cut the budget for the email solution. It makes it hard for organizations to fully implement a solid plan.
I'm reading your DPRs, and the start date was April 2012. Right now the implementation date is under review. What's the plan? What's changed? I think last year you were at 10% implementation. Where are we at with email now?
As I indicated earlier, I don't have the exact percentage increase, but as reported in the media, there is a substantial increase between the main estimates for 2017-18 and 2016-17. That is because, quite clearly, the Privy Council Office has been asked by this and this government to take on additional functions that, in part, go to additional roles that the Prime Minister himself has decided to take on, for example, as .
It's not only to take on the role but also to step up the role. For example, in terms of intergovernmental affairs, there have been three first ministers meetings in a span of one year, whereas there hadn't been first ministers meetings for some period.
To bolster the appointment process to boards, commissions, crown corporations, and so forth, all appointments, both full-time and part-time, are now done through a competitive process with an open invitation to Canadians to apply.
I'll take an opportunity to respond to the question, Mr. Chair.
Budget 2016 would have identified money associated with doing this initiative for the PCO. In terms of developing the initiative, what we do is develop a Treasury Board submission to seek funds for it. We didn't develop it in time because we were still working out the details in terms of finding out what we were going to do, how we were going to spend the money, and how it was going to be used.
Once we have a good understanding of what we're doing with that, then we go forward with the Treasury Board submission. When your Treasury Board submission is heard determines whether it's in your supplementary estimates (B) or (C). The Treasury Board submission wasn't heard in time for it to be in supplementary estimates (B). The work would have been under way, we would have been developing our proposal, but we would not have had it in time to meet the timelines associated with a supplementary estimates (B) kind of initiative.
I want to thank everyone for being here this morning and for the work you put into preparing for today, and frankly the work you do for Canada on a daily, ongoing basis. Thank you for your commitment to that.
There are just a few questions I want to touch on here. If I may, I'll make a bit of a comment. Frankly, it's kind of shocking that any member of Parliament would think it's a waste of time or resources or money to consult Canadians. I think that's the fundamental role of a member of Parliament, so any effort we can make to consult Canadians I think is something that should be lauded and not critiqued. That's certainly the way I look at my role as a member of Parliament, being able to hear what Canadians think. Frankly, if we can do that in an effective and efficient manner, it's certainly incumbent upon us to do so.
I think that was done during the MyDemocracy.ca exercise with the expense of $3.8 million. Every Canadian had the chance to participate. Members might think 360,000 is a small number of Canadians to consult with, but that's probably 360,000 more than were consulted in the decade before, so I think it's quite an achievement. The old consultation was to walk down to the PMO and that's where you would consult, so we've moved away from that regime I think.
But I want to talk about another component of the PCO's estimates here, and it's the smaller part, the roughly $150,044 for access control and physical security projects to strengthen the Privy Council's Office security infrastructure. I just wonder if you can elaborate on that. A lot of these are new terms to me, and maybe some of my colleagues, so could you elaborate on the details of what that program is?
Sometimes, Mr. Chair, the unfortunate part of our business is that we introduce new terms, but for things that members would readily recognize. Essentially it's when you go, for example, through a security gate that's automatic with a pass that you can flash so the gates open and you can come in. That is in part what we are talking about here.
Essentially, for the Privy Council Office we have altogether in the perimeter around Langevin 11 buildings. We are trying to modernize and ensure that we have state-of-the-art security systems for access to these buildings. What we're doing now, and it's going to continue on next year, is the beginning of the process this year. We do have to do planning, procurement, and implementation for this access control and physical security project. That's door-access control systems, which means there's software, of course, supported by servers. There's a control panel. There are card readers and there are cards that will be issued to Privy Council Office employees and so forth, and that is simply to bolster the security of the perimeter. That access control is part of a broader exercise to ensure that the Privy Council Office, and of course the Office of the , can work in a very secure environment.
The fundamental role and mission of the Privy Council Office will remain the same. There are three parts we identify. First is the support to the and the ministers of the portfolio, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the in this case. Second is the support to the cabinet, the effective operation of the cabinet, and third is then to be leading the public service writ large. Those three components are going to continue, and I think will remain our top-line objectives.
However, we have to evolve as the priorities of the government evolve, as the role and the priorities of the evolve, as he takes on, as I indicated to you earlier, new roles. We, of course, try to reflect in our different documents—including the performance report, which is however backward looking, and in the planning documents—how we view our priorities, how we consider we can best service the Prime Minister, the ministers of the portfolios, the cabinet, and ensure an effective and responsive public service.
We evolve. We do reflect on our objectives, and particularly our performance indicators, but the fundamental characteristics and role of PCO stand.
I appreciated the responses from Shared Services about IT support for the RCMP, but it's not just the RCMP. The memo that I mentioned also highlighted an 11-hour outage that not only downed the BlackBerrys of all RCMP officers, it also prevented about 240 other police forces from accessing the Canadian Police Information Centre.
Since we have the Canadian Police Association on Parliament Hill today, I want to ask what Shared Services is doing, either through these supplementary estimates or otherwise, to ensure that there is going to be proper IT infrastructure, not just for the RCMP but for all the other police forces that ultimately depend on the federal system.
Shared Services Canada is using funding that we received through budget 2016. We received $384 million over two years. It was $234 million for 2016-17, and the balance of $151 million in 2017-18.
We're using that funding to address the most immediate pressures with respect to our aging infrastructure, so our networks and data centres that have been determined to be mission critical by departments and that are also at the end of their useful life, which is typically a five-year period.
Since we received the money from budget 2016, we have been reinstating maintenance contracts that had previously expired because we had limited funds to renew them. We've been upgrading networks and servers that support mission-critical programs like the ones the member mentioned with respect to policing services. We've been replacing firewalls. We plan to replace all of our end-of-life firewalls, as well as replace out-of-date telephony equipment. A specific example relevant to police work is in remote detachments in western Canada. We have been replacing their telephony equipment so that 911 services function as they should in those regions.
Throughout 2016, we have been procuring a lot of this new infrastructure. We have started rolling out some of it, and we plan to do more in 2017-18.
That's my sense, but thank you for that.
Ms. Ratansi often reminds our committee of her background as an accountant. Now, of course, I didn't have enough personality to be an accountant, so I had to be an economist. Despite that, I feel that Ms. Ratansi and I are actually on the same page in asking PCO about the extent of its budget increase, and I feel like the response that we both received was that PCO has been asked to take on some additional functions.
I'd like to ask whether those functions are actually appropriate to PCO. Mr. Gourde, and I think, Mr. Whalen have already asked a little about why the electoral reform spending was done through PCO rather than through the . One could also ask whether the Minister of Youth's functions are properly done through PCO. I'm just curious to hear your take on whether those additional functions actually make sense for PCO as an organization.
My questions will be addressed to Mr. Barr's team.
The departmental performance report of Public Services and Government Procurement Canada, which is under the management of , provides dates, several topics, and the status of programs. According to what I can see, things are on the right track in most cases. In addition, there are dates marking the beginning and the end of things, which allows us to understand that projects are long-term and not limited to 2015-2016.
For instance, I see that the program to welcome Syrian refugees was rolled out and is now complete. That is on page 13 of the report. It refers to 25,000 Syrian refugees.
What are the plans for 2017? Will the next report, the 2016-2017 report, include another line on the reception of Syrian refugees, or will that topic not be raised in the report?
There is no instance I believe where activities done elsewhere were placed under the responsibility of PCO. For instance, the Results and Delivery Unit did not exist before. Of course, the Secretariat of the Treasury Board always did work to analyze results. However, this is a complementary mechanism we are adopting at PCO in order to be able to refocus government action. This allows us to determine in a concrete way how we hope to see actions affect Canadians' lives, and the economy as well. It also allows us to measure other variables. This team was built within PCO.
In other cases, we extended resources at PCO. Intergovernmental Affairs are one example I mentioned. Our and government want an enhanced relationship with the provinces and territories in a number of files. For us, this means a capacity to better support the Prime Minister with regard to the overall intergovernmental relations strategy.
As for the Prime Minister's Youth Council, that entity did not exist as such before. We created a unit within Privy Council Office to support the .
Overall, these are new priorities which either extended the needs that were already there or created new needs that had not been defined before.
Thank you. I'll ask three to four quick questions, and then you can answer. Otherwise, I'll lose my time.
I'm curious. What is the intersection between PCO and SSC with regard to a risk mitigation strategy on IT? That's number one.
Number two is in terms of cybersecurity. I understand SSC is working on cybersecurity, but you didn't use half of your budget last year. What is your thought process in moving it forward, and how are we doing there?
Number three is that when Wayne Smith came to us, he talked about the strained relationship between SSC and Stats Canada. Has it improved and are we moving forward?
The last, I think, you may have answered to Mr. Weir. Do you have baseline data for the RCMP pre-SSC and post-SSC? They were also raising some concerns.
I'll go in reverse order. There was no baseline for RCMP services before the creation of Shared Services Canada. In fact, for the vast majority of departments there was no baseline on service levels, and that has been one of our fundamental challenges at Shared Services Canada. There was very limited information on services and assets that were consolidated at SSC, which meant that we did not have a basis for service level agreements or to measure if we were improving service.
With respect to Statistics Canada, over the past several months, we have built a strong and productive relationship with Statistics Canada aimed at ensuring that we have a reliable and secure IT platform for the delivery of their important programs. The chief statistician and the president of Shared Services Canada meet every two weeks to monitor progress on mitigating risks associated with IT.
There are currently no outstanding operational issues at Shared Services Canada related to IT. We have worked very hard over the past few months to secure their existing IT environment, and we are working on a strategy with them to eventually move them out of their old data centre into a new one that will completely meet their security requirements. All the SSC staff who work in the data centre servicing Statistics Canada are cleared to the secret level, and they take an oath to respect the requirements of the Statistics Act.
With respect to your first question about what we are doing on cybersecurity, we are using budget 2016 money to strengthen the three connections to the Internet that the Government of Canada has. This is to ensure that we can scan all the traffic that goes through those network connections even if that traffic is coded. We're also creating and building a list of applications that are safe to be installed on the shared network infrastructure. That's in addition to what I mentioned earlier in response to the earlier question about our security operations centre.
We have a computer incident response team that provides guidance and mitigation to departments in the form of information products. We've instituted, along with the Communications Security Establishment of Canada, a supply chain integrity process to ensure that no untrusted equipment, software, or managed services are procured by Shared Services Canada or used in the delivery of services to Canadians.