Thank you for giving me this opportunity today.
I'm very pleased to be here today as Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and also as the minister responsible for Shared Services Canada to talk about my departments' main estimates and reports on plans and priorities for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
With me are Deputy Minister Michelle d'Auray and Chief Financial Officer Alex Lakroni from Public Works and Government Services Canada, as well as Liseanne Forand, who is the president of Shared Services Canada.
As you know, our government is focused on job creation, economic growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians, and both departments represented here today are primary service providers to Canada and within government, making sure we have effective and efficient operations in support of these goals.
As part of its broad mandate, Public Works and Government Services Canada serves many vital functions for the Government of Canada. Some of these roles include acting as the government’s principal treasurer, accountant, real property manager and central purchasing agent.
Of course, part of the central purchasing agent role involves procurement responsibility, including defence procurement, and I'll talk about that in a few more minutes.
Shared Services Canada, newly created in 2011 by our government, is working to standardize, consolidate, and streamline the Government of Canada's information technology services. Their mandate is to transform our existing systems, which are often costly and all too often outdated, into much more modern, reliable, and secure IT infrastructure to bring savings to Canadian taxpayers.
This morning I would like to provide some highlights on actions and progress being made by the two departments for which I'm responsible.
For the 2014-15 main estimates, PWGSC's net spending is anticipated to decrease by close to $197 million from the 2013-14 levels. As for Shared Services Canada, SSC's main estimates for 2014-15 show an increase of 5.4%, or $75.2 million.
This is largely due to the expansion of Shared Services Canada’s mandate and activities, and can be largely attributed to funding received from partner departments for new responsibilities for workplace technology devices. Partner departments are reducing their reference levels accordingly.
Looking to the year ahead, I am proud of several of our initiatives that will foster innovation, achieve additional cost savings for Canadian taxpayers and reduce red tape for small and medium-sized businesses.
In February Minister Nicholson and I announced Canada's new defence procurement strategy. This strategy represents a fundamental change in the government's approach to defence procurement, and its implementation will be a key priority for my department. Our new defence procurement strategy is designed to meet three objectives.
The first is to deliver the right equipment to the Canadian armed forces and the Canadian Coast Guard in a timely manner. The second is to leverage our purchase of defence equipment to create Canadian jobs, economic growth, and export opportunities. Third is to streamline our defence procurement processes while improving transparency and accountability.
Since that announcement we've already started to make progress. In fact the first projects under the strategy have already been announced. Those are the medium range radar and medium lift helicopter procurements. We're working with industry, as we committed to doing, on applying the new value proposition to these procurements.
Another way in which we are leveraging the government’s procurement to drive innovation and create opportunities for entrepreneurs, is through the Build in Canada Innovation Program. As you heard from my officials in December, BCIP, as we call it, allows the government to act as a first buyer, helping kick-start Canadian businesses by moving their home-grown innovations from the lab to the marketplace.
As we pledged, the build in Canada innovation program has been made permanent and now has an added military component. We're pleased to have received excellent feedback from entrepreneurs who now have greater opportunities to sell and export their innovative products while creating jobs for Canadian workers. The next call for proposals will be happening this spring.
We will also continue to work toward delivering on our government's commitment to preserve and rehabilitate our capital city's historic parliamentary precinct on time and on budget. Committee members may recall that this work is being carried out under a series of rolling five-year plans under an overarching long-term vision and plan.
On November 19, 2013, my officials appeared before this committee to provide an update on the status of renovations and the associated costs for the parliamentary precinct renovation project. I understand that at that time, committee members also made a site visit to West Block to see first-hand the cost and the complexity of the renovations there. Not only is this work crucial to ensuring that these buildings meet current construction standards and are able to fulfill their intended functions, but it also employs many skilled tradespeople.
For example, the rehabilitation of the Sir John A. Macdonald building, the former Bank of Montreal on Wellington Street, on its own will have generated around 600 jobs by the time the project is completed in 2015.
Public Works and Government Services Canada continues its major pension and pay transformation initiatives, which are replacing outdated legacy systems and centralizing service delivery for pension services in Shediac, New Brunswick, and pay services in Miramichi.
Together these transformation initiatives will enable the Government of Canada to save more than $100 million annually, starting in 2016-17. As well, Public Works is leveraging the new pension system to provide pension services for the RCMP and National Defence. These initiatives will further contribute to our government's plan to increase efficiencies and streamline our operations.
In the exercise of PWGSC's many functions, we strive to make the government more effective, more transparent, more modem and more accountable to Canadians. In keeping with this, we continue to work at further safeguarding the integrity of the public procurement process.
This is why on March 1, 2014, we further expanded the list of offences that make a company and individuals ineligible to bid on contracts. We also implemented measures that allow us to ban companies from accessing federal contracts if they have foreign convictions or make admissions of guilt in judicial proceedings. For all contracts with Public Works, subcontractors will now be bound by the same terms and conditions as the prime contractor.
Mr. Chair, now I would like to turn to Shared Services Canada.
Since its creation in 2011 it's already delivering results for Canadians in terms of savings, security, and service. SSC is building a modern and resilient IT platform that will help us meet Canadians' current and future service expectations while keeping their personal information protected and secure.
In launching the Canada cyber security strategy in 2012, our government sent a strong message that it takes security very seriously. Shared Services Canada continues to work closely with partner departments and agencies to strengthen the security of government systems—because there is simply no place for untrusted equipment and services in Government of Canada networks.
It's equally important that we make every effort to lower costs for taxpayers, another area where SSC is making its mark. By taking a government-wide approach, SSC continues to reduce duplication, increase efficiency, and cut costs. SSC has already generated $150 million in savings simply by getting better prices and reducing duplication and redundancy.
The 2014-15 report on plans and priorities underlines that we expect even better results in the future as the department realizes efficiencies in cost savings to the standardization, consolidation, and re-engineering of IT infrastructure services.
Let me provide you with a few details on this.
SSC is preparing to implement a new standardized, user friendly, and more secure e-mail system for the Government of Canada, replacing our 63 legacy systems with one. Consolidating e-mail systems to a common and more secure e-mail system will bring anticipated savings of over $50 million a year beginning in 2015-16. We've also established a first enterprise data centre which will be followed in 2014-15 by two additional government-wide data centres, eliminating up to 50 former facilities. Once the consolidation process is complete, we'll have moved from 485 data centres to seven, resulting in more savings, stronger security, and better service to Canadians.
SSC is also rationalizing the 3,000-plus overlapping and uncoordinated telecommunications networks that provide voice and data services. This will include eliminating costly Centrex telephone services and moving the government to a digital approach that takes advantage of such technologies as voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, as an example. This will result in greater efficiencies and additional savings to taxpayers.
To further bring savings to taxpayers, SSC will be helping departments reduce their travel requirements by expanding the use of video-conferencing technologies and encouraging sharing of facilities among departments. In today's digital age, it just makes sense, not to mention that this initiative will generate about $7 million in annual savings.
Another way that Shared Services Canada is cutting costs is by consolidating and standardizing the procurement of workplace technology devices for federal employees, as mandated in budget 2013. By consolidating software contracts, Shared Services Canada will generate savings of $2.1 million in 2013-14 and $8.7 million starting next year and in future years.
Collectively, these measures are enhancing security and improving performance in service, while at the same time reducing costs and generating greater savings to taxpayers. I will continue to work to ensure that SSC's continued progress in modernizing the government's infrastructure will leave long-term benefits for Canadians.
Mr. Chair, I will conclude my remarks by saying that the Government of Canada is a large and complex organization, and whether in Public Works and Government Services or in Shared Services Canada, there will always be room for improvement. I see that both as a challenge and an opportunity. I'm also confident that these initiatives are contributing to the sound management of the resources entrusted to us and ensuring value and results for Canadian taxpayers.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I look forward to taking questions from members of the committee.