Interventions in Board of Internal Economy
 
 
 
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View Mark Holland Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Mark Holland Profile
2019-02-28 12:41
Before we go in camera, I'm looking for a quick update on two items that I know were brought to the attention of the board. I believe they were looked at. One dealt with the secondary expenses of then minister Kenney during the period he was saying he was living in his mother's basement, from 2013 to 2015. I'm wondering if there's an update on that. The second was with relation to Charlie Angus. I know there was an issue with his website and solicitation of memberships and also with ads for his federal election nomination being placed, which I believe was done in error.
I'm just looking for an update on those two items.
Michel Patrice
View Michel Patrice Profile
Michel Patrice
2019-02-28 12:42
We have received those two requests. The House administration is currently doing the analysis of the file and looking at the records. We'll report back at a subsequent board meeting.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
If there was Excel in 1995, it was based on Windows 3.1, DOS, which is a very different animal, I suppose, from today. You had to have Winsock and connect to the Internet and all that stuff.
Shall we start with proposal B, here, the 65th CPA Conference? Is that proposal approved?
It's agreed.
Is the OSCE proposal approved? It is. Thank you very much.
We now move to item 4 on the agenda: “Services to members—office supplies and stationery.”
Here to tell us about that are Daniel Paquette, the Chief Financial Officer, and Benoit Giroux, the Chief Operations Officer.
While we're waiting for them to get ready, we'll go to Mr. Strahl.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Perhaps as a matter for the agenda today, which is extremely full, I am hoping that perhaps—I know these are numbered items—the matters that must be completed today should take priority. I don't anticipate that we will go super-long, but we do have several items. I just want to make sure that the ones that require our sign-off today are given priority. I don't know if we can jump around a bit, but that would be our preference for both the public and the in camera portions: that we concentrate first on those that we must complete today.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
We will monitor the time and do our best to accommodate that request.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2018-12-06 10:50
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
It is my pleasure to present a submission seeking the Board's approval to modernize certain policies in the Members' Allowances and Services Manual on office supplies and personalized stationery.
As has already been mentioned at the last board meeting, we're making many efforts to ensure that the House will be able to keep the cost of its operations within its existing overall budget. In order to do so, as we change how we do our business, we must ensure that we balance the utilization of the various individual budget envelopes.
As decided at the last board meeting, the cost of certain computers and printers will now be charged to a centrally managed budget instead of to the member's office budget, which is referred to as the MOB. In order to help balance this decision, we are proposing changes to certain other policies and practices that affect how certain costs are charged centrally or to the MOB—that is, an opportunity to balance the cost savings of the member's office budget resulting from the previous provisions.
This submission is also part of the House administration's ongoing commitment to ensuring excellence in the delivery of services to members. It is an opportunity to update and streamline the current policies on office supplies and stationery so that they are in line with today's business practices.
Our objective with the submissions is to ensure discretionary spending incurred by a member is applied against the member's office budget, to remove ineffective or restrictive limits and thereby reduce some of the administrative burden for members, and to simplify the purchasing process of office supplies and stationery for members.
I'll start with the discretionary expenses, which we are proposing should be charged to the member's office budget.
Currently, members are provided with paper and envelopes up to pre-set limits, as a charge against the central administration budget.
Members may, however, buy additional quantities, charged to their office budgets, if they so wish.
In addition, members wishing to purchase office supplies must currently choose among four different price lists in the House of Commons stationery catalogue, since some basic items are charged to the House administration's central budgets and others are charged to the MOB. This creates an administrative burden for members and their employees in the procurement of day-to-day supplies. Members select supplies for their daily office operations at their own discretion and based on their preferences, so these costs are most appropriately charged to their MOB. Streamlining the number of price lists and budgets for office supplies will simplify the procurement process and allow members to continue to benefit from House-negotiated prices for those office supplies.
It is proposed that the cost of non-standard size envelopes for parliamentary offices be charged to the MOB. The cost of paper and envelopes for constituency offices will be charged also to the MOB, and all costs associated with purchasing all office supplies will be charged to the MOB.
Another proposal in this submission relates to copying charges.
In 2013, the Board approved the replacement of the existing, single-purpose printers, copiers, scanners and fax machines in Members' offices by one networked, multi-functional device and one backup desktop printer.
The maintenance and support services for those multi-functional devices were authorized as a charge against the central administration budget.
Similar to office supplies, multi-function device copying usage charges are considered discretionary in nature. Therefore, the proposals to standardize the approach for delivering and managing computer and printing equipment in constituency offices would see these utilization charges applied against the MOB. The proposal to also apply the copy usage charge for the parliamentary office against the MOB would align the practice between the parliamentary and constituency offices.
In turn, we would like to propose the elimination of certain limits on some of the items that are provided centrally by the House.
The House administration currently provides members with established limits of a variety of goods and services to support their daily office operations and then to enable them to communicate with their constituents.
The House administration has observed that some limits are ineffective and too strict, specifically those dealing with paper, envelopes, letterhead and wish cards.
However, members may exceed those limits by using their office budgets to buy more supplies, if it becomes necessary.
To reduce the administrative burden to members and their employees associated with managing these limits and to modernize the business practice in light of the declining usage, the House administration is proposing to remove the applicable limits around paper, envelopes, letterhead and wish cards.
As well, as part of the printing and mailing modernization project and in in line with current office technology, we are proposing to centrally provide to members a reasonable quantity of paper and standard personalized printed envelopes in letter and legal formats for their parliamentary offices, and an electronic letterhead template as an alternative to hard-copy letterhead, while still providing reasonable on-demand printing of letterheads when required and a reasonable on-demand printing of wish cards with the envelopes.
To align the timing of these proposals, we recommend that the recommendations come into effect after the next election, which is in line with the managed computing proposal that was approved at the last meeting.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my presentation for this submission. We're ready to answer any of the questions the board members may have.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
You might end up having 338 different ideas of what is reasonable, and my question would be, who is making those determinations? Obviously, how the process generally would work is that the House financial management would say that it was unreasonable, and then the member could challenge whether it was reasonable, and we'd just get into a runaround.
This, I assume, for 90% or higher of members, is not an issue. I don't think I've ever come close to reaching any of my established limits, but some go over. Perhaps you can explain the decision to go from a hard cap to a reasonable standard, which may involve a lot more work for your office and mine.
Benoit Giroux
View Benoit Giroux Profile
Benoit Giroux
2018-12-06 10:57
Thank you, Mr. Strahl. I'll answer that question.
The limits we currently have are not exceeded in most cases. Our removing those limits would make it easier for everybody to order. Some of those limits were very prescriptive—for example, you could not order more than 2,500 envelopes at a time. We're removing that limit.
In terms of what we would consider reasonable, as we mentioned, we have not seen many excesses in the last year. We have averages, and we're going to monitor that.
If, for instance, a member submits something that's way over what we would consider the average, then we would have discussions with the member's office to better understand their requirements and find a solution to meet their requirements.
View Mark Strahl Profile
CPC (BC)
Obviously when we're bringing this to our members, we can sell it as, “Yes, you're going to pay more for stationery, but you're going to be relieved of the burden for computers.” Do you have any idea what the net is? Is it a net zero? I would assume that I spend more on computing equipment than I do on paper. Have you done the analysis for an average member? What is the net effect on their budget for these two changes in concert?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2018-12-06 10:59
If we look globally overall, all the MPs combined, there is a gain of almost half a million dollars from more flexibility within the MOBs. Now, individually, the utilization of these various products or limits vary. We did the analysis for one point in time for one fiscal year. There was a handful of MPs who would have been a little short for that particular year.
Computers are usually not bought as one computer per year; they're bought in bulk. If we look at a full Parliament of about four years, we expect that the majority, if not all, would be as well off financially, if not better off.
View Geoff Regan Profile
Lib. (NS)
I think you mean half a million dollars for the aggregate of the members' offices.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2018-12-06 10:59
It's the aggregate, yes, not individual MPs, yes.
Voices: Oh, oh!
View Candice Bergen Profile
CPC (MB)
I Just have one question.
If an MP, though, just recently spent a portion of their MOB to upgrade or purchase new printing equipment, is there a little bit of leeway for them? Is there going to be a problem with some who have spent, and now that they've spent that money, they don't need another printer? Are they going to be short?
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2018-12-06 11:00
That's why the coming into force of these recommendations is after the next election.
Daniel Paquette
View Daniel Paquette Profile
Daniel Paquette
2018-12-06 11:00
As we discussed at the last meeting, the computers have a life cycle of about four or five years. Sometime during the next Parliament they will be needing those computers. That's where the savings over that period of time will come for them.
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