Opening Statement by Ron Parker, President of Shared Services Canada to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates on Amendments to the Shared Services Canada Act in the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1
Mr. / Mme. Chair, we are pleased to appear before your committee to discuss the two clauses in the Budget Implementation Act that would amend the Shared Services Canada Act.
With me are Alain Duplantie, Chief Financial Officer and Senior Assistant Deputy Minister for Corporate Services, and Graham Barr, Director General for Strategic Policy Planning and Reporting.
Shared Services Canada was created in 2011 and is mandated to modernize the Government’s information technology infrastructure.
SSC delivers email, data centre, network and workplace technology device services, as well as cyber and IT security services across the Government of Canada.
SSC absolutely welcomes these legislative amendments, which would assist us in implementing our mandate.
They also directly support our Minister’s mandate letter commitment to modernize procurement practices so that they are simpler and less administratively burdensome.
Among the advantages, the amendments would help SSC to offset the large administrative burden of low dollar procurement transactions we currently do for others.
As well, they would allow us to focus on more complex and strategic transactions. This would also make it easier and faster for departments to get the IT goods and services they need to deliver digital services and programs to Canadians.
In short, they would produce a win-win situation 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 IT contracts and ensure economies of scale.
As well, we will continue performing supply chain integrity assessments to ensure only trusted equipment and software are used in the delivery of 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. This would authorize the Minister responsible for SSC to delegate to other Ministers the power to procure certain IT goods and services related to our mandate. This could include items such as microcomputer peripherals like keyboards and USB keys, using SSC’s existing standing offers.
Currently, departments do not have the ability to procure these basic items on their own, and SSC provides little added value 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 off 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 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, it’s not even practical.
This could apply to embassies, consulates and defence deployments overseas run by Global Affairs Canada 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 I close, I would like to provide more context into how we got here.
In September 2015, Order in Council 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, SSC assumed responsibility for a number of existing PSPC procurement tools, but did not have the authority to delegate low-value purchases to others the way PSPC could.
This meant that SSC also assumed the sole responsibility to execute all acquisitions related to the delivery of its shared services, including procurements on behalf of departments.
This resulted in a substantial increase in low-value, high-volume transactions. 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 percent of these transactions were below $25,000.
The amendments we’re discussing today would help to offset this administrative burden, and provide additional flexibility to SSC in meeting our customers’ needs.
They are also consistent with the delegation authorities provided under our Minister’s portfolio to Public Services and Procurement Canada.
They are based on a proven model that ensures efficiency in procurement while centralizing purchases of higher complexity.
As we move forward, SSC will consult with our customers to seek their input on the implementation of a potential delegations framework.
We would now be please to take the committee’s questions.
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