We're pleased to be here today with the committee on the two clauses. With me are Alain Duplantie, the chief financial officer and senior assistant deputy minister for corporate services; and Graham Barr, our director general for strategic policy, planning and reporting.
Shared Services Canada was established in 2011 to modernize the Government of Canada’s information technology infrastructure.
SSC delivers email, data centre, network and workplace technology device services. SSC also delivers cybersecurity and IT security services to the Government of Canada.
SSC is pleased with these legislative amendments. They will help us implement our mandate. They also directly support our minister's mandate letter, in which she is asked to modernize procurement practices so that the practices are simpler and less administratively burdensome.
Among the advantages, the amendments would help SSC to offset the large administrative burden of the low-dollar-value procurement transactions we currently do for others. As well, they would allow us to focus on the more complex and strategic transactions. This would make it easier and faster for departments to get the IT goods and services they need in order to deliver digital services and programs to Canadians. In short, we think they would provide a win-win solution for SSC and our customers.
Departments would be able to purchase some IT goods and services directly from vendors through SSC procurement vehicles.
SSC will remain the contracting authority for IT goods and services for the Government of Canada. We will continue to set up the IT contracts and ensure economies of scale. As well, we will continue to perform the supply chain integrity assessments, to ensure that only trusted equipment and software are used in the delivery of key services.
Looking specifically at the amendments, they would result in two separate yet related changes.
First, they would amend section 7 of the Shared Services Canada Act to authorize the minister responsible for SSC to delegate to other ministers the power to procure certain IT items related to our mandate. This could include items such as microcomputer peripherals like keyboards and USB keys, using Shared Services Canada's standing offers.
Currently, departments do not have the ability to procure these basic items on their own, and SSC provides little value added in these transactions. These IT devices would therefore be strong candidates for delegation of procurement authorities to ministers and their departments.
Printing would be another potential area for delegation. SSC is currently in the process of establishing a new method of supply for printers. We aim to put in place three contracts with industry-leading manufacturers. We will establish catalogues of goods and services that have been standardized and verified for security purposes. With the proposed changes, the minister would be able to delegate to departments the ability to buy from these catalogues.
The second change would amend section 9 of the Shared Services Canada Act. This would enable the minister for SSC to authorize another minister to deliver services related to our mandate in exceptional situations where it is more practical, efficient, and financially viable to do so. This addresses the fact that SSC is obligated to provide all goods and services related to our mandate in all locations where the government has a presence.
That's not efficient and, in some particular situations, not very practical. This could apply to embassies, consulates, and defence deployments overseas run by Global Affairs and the Department of National Defence. These departments currently do not have the ability to provide basic IT goods and services to their employees without going through SSC.
Before closing, I also want to explain how we got here.
In September 2015, Order in Council 2015-1071 clarified and expanded SSC’s responsibilities related to the procurement of goods and services.
The intent was to reduce the duplication of procurement efforts between SSC and Public Services and Procurement Canada. It was also to better leverage the purchasing power of the crown by consolidating service delivery and acquisition in one place.
With this order in council, back in September 2015, SSC assumed responsibility for a number of existing PSPC procurement tools, but it didn't have the authority, which this legislation now provides, to delegate low-value purchases to others, the way PSPC could and did. This meant that SSC also assumed the sole responsibility to execute all acquisitions related to the delivery of shared services, including procurements on behalf of departments.
Overall, this resulted in a substantial increase in low-value, high-volume transactions flowing through Shared Services Canada. From September 1, 2015 to March 30, 2017, we processed approximately 24,000 transactions for the procurement of goods and services on behalf of other departments. Approximately 80% of those transactions were below $25,000.
The amendments we are discussing today would help to offset the administrative burden that SSC is experiencing and provide additional flexibility to SSC in meeting our customers' needs. It would be a lot more efficient for the departments to access these vehicles themselves.
The amendments are also consistent with the delegation of authority provided under the portfolio of Public Services and Procurement Canada. They are based on a proven model that ensures efficiency in procurement while centralizing purchases of higher complexity. As it moves forward, SSC will seek input from its clients regarding the implementation of a potential delegations framework.
We would now be pleased to take the committee's questions.
My colleague Martin Loken and I want to thank you for the invitation to appear before the committee. It's a pleasure to be here.
I'll make a few brief opening comments, after which I would be pleased to answer your questions.
Global Affairs Canada is mandated to manage Canada’s international platform. The platform is a network of 179 missions in 109 countries that supports the international operations of Global Affairs Canada and 37 partner departments, agencies and colocators, such as provincial government representatives.
We are a 24-7, around-the-globe knowledge organization, where information flows continuously to enable everything that our department does. We depend on a secure and efficient information technology infrastructure, whether it's to promote Canada's interests in the world, to deliver trade and consular services to Canadians, or to provide humanitarian assistance.
A critical element of this mandate is the provision of IT services overseas. Global Affairs Canada fully supports the government's enterprise approach to information technology. Global Affairs works closely with Shared Services Canada to ensure that a secure, reliable IT infrastructure is in place to support our department's employees in Canada and our workforce abroad.
In particular, this includes support and maintenance of Shared Services Canada infrastructure, including servers, networking, secure systems, and email. It also includes local procurement of IT goods and services such as BlackBerrys, telephone lines, and Internet service providers.
Global Affairs and Shared Services Canada share and jointly fund a workforce of over 150 Canada-based and locally-engaged information technology professionals who deliver the majority of these services at missions abroad. This approach has been effective in maintaining service delivery abroad since the creation of Shared Services Canada.
Global Affairs Canada supports the proposed measures in the Budget Implementation Act related to Shared Services Canada. In our view, these are important tools to enable Shared Services Canada to focus on its core mandate and to streamline the delivery of services in challenging international environments. In particular, the delegation of procurement authorities for IT goods and services outside Canada would allow my department to respond more quickly to changing needs at missions abroad.
We look forward to working with Shared Services Canada to examine how these proposed changes, if enacted, can be leveraged to meet the needs of Canada's international platform.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We look forward to your questions.
If we go back to the point in time when SSC took over the expanded mandate, in September 2015, Public Services and Procurement Canada had a number of standing offers and supply arrangements for departments to avail themselves of microcomputers, printing products, scanning products, and the like.
When the authority or the mandate transferred over, we did not have the authority to have the powers of the minister delegated to others. While previously departments could contract directly from vendors where the standing offers had been established, all their transactions then had to come through SSC in order to go to those same standing offers.
In the first instance, we want to tackle the low-hanging fruit. Where standing offers currently exist, or in the instance that Mr. Parker articulated in his opening remarks, a new contract for printing services, those would be opportunities available to departments. It would be more efficient on their end.
Mr. Chair, thanks for the question.
There absolutely are, and that's part of establishing the framework that we need to have in place. We need to look at the grouping of the various commodities to assess the scope for the discounting associated with bulk buys. That's one factor through which we very much have realized savings.
This is part of deciding. Not all of those commodities, however, benefit from bulk buys. The balance, I think, will be the bulk buy versus the efficiency that may come to a particular department from the timeliness of getting a set of goods and services.
We will have to go through these, commodity grouping by commodity grouping, to do the assessment. It won't be the same for every single department that takes services; it will be different. That's why I'm talking about the need for that consultation.
Thank you for the question, Mr. Chair.
I read his comments, and my interpretation of his message was that Monsieur Breton was making reference to the situation before the shift in mandate. SSC had received a mandate to deliver IT, email, network, and data centre for the enterprise, but before the September 2015 OIC, workplace technology device responsibilities remained with PSPC, leaving the industry to wonder, when looking for IT peripherals as related to IT contracts, which organization to deal with, PSPC or SSC.
The clarification of the mandate that came by way of the OIC in September 2015 brought that remaining part of the mandate into SSC and provided a more stable source of supply for the industry to deal with, and clarity for our partners and clients as well.
Hello, gentlemen. Thank you for being here this morning.
I want to talk about some of the amendments proposed through the omnibus Bill , which implements Budget 2017-18.
On August 4, 2011, we wanted to consolidate all the government's technological services and procurement, including computers, USB keys or other things of that nature. Unless I'm mistaken, I would say that clause 113 of the bill, which will replace section 7 of the Shared Services Canada Act, aims to deconsolidate what we wanted to consolidate, to a certain extent. Am I mistaken, or is that what's going on?