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.