Mr. Chair and honourable members, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to discuss our main estimates as well as our report on plans and priorities, or RPP, for the upcoming year. They set out our plans and budgets, and some of the challenges we face.
I am here today with Donald Lemaire, senior vice president of policy, and Richard Charlebois, vice president, corporate management Branch.
This year, we are providing a shorter and more focused report as part of the broad initiative led by Treasury Board to provide more streamlined reporting to Parliament. Should members wish to have more details, supplementary information is readily available on our website through a link to our RPP.
In our RPP, the PSC's net planned spending for 2009-10 is about $95 million, with a staff complement of 989. In addition, the PSC has vote-netting authority of $14 million for cost-recovery of counselling and assessment products and services provided to federal organizations. Our total planned spending is $109 million.
I would like to point out that our planned spending for 2009-10 is lower than the forecast spending for 2008-09 by about $10.3 million. This is due primarily to the carry-forward from 2007-08 to 2008-09 of $4.8 million, salary adjustments of $2.8 million, the human resources horizontal review reduction of $3.1 million, and other minor offsetting adjustments.
With regard to the horizontal review reductions, we were one of six organizations that participated in the review. As a result, the PSC's annual budget has been reduced, as I mentioned, by $3.1 million in 2009-10. It will be reduced by a further $1.5 million in 2011-12, for a total permanent reduction of $4.6 million.
We feel this 5% cut is manageable through increased efficiencies in our operations. In addition, we have greater authority for cost-recovery. These changes will not affect our capacity to implement our strategic priorities.
Also in 2009-10, a total of $1.5 million has been permanently removed from the PSC's budget because we are no longer doing appeals.
For the longer term, we are showing further reductions in 2011-12. At that time, our planned spending decreases by $8.4 million, which is primarily due to the end of sunset funding for our electronic recruitment and screening system, the public service resourcing system.
Our strategic outcome has remained constant—to provide Canadians with a highly competent, non-partisan and representative public service, able to provide service in both official languages, in which appointments are based on the values of fairness, access, transparency and representativeness.
In support of our strategic outcome, in 2009-2010, we are focusing our attention and resources on five priorities: to put in place a well-functioning, delegated staffing model; to provide independent oversight and assurance to Parliament on the integrity of the staffing system and the non-partisanship of the federal public service; to enable organizations to manage their delegated responsibilities; to provide integrated and modernized staffing and assessment services; and to build on the model organization.
Our strategic outcome and priorities are supported by four program activities.
Our planned spending under the appointment integrity and political neutrality activity is $10.7 million. This activity includes establishing policies and standards and providing advice, interpretation, and guidance. It also includes administering delegated authorities for 82 departments and agencies, as well as administering non-delegated authorities such as the priority system and political activities regime.
Our second program activity is oversight of integrity of staffing and political neutrality. We have allocated $21.7 million to this area. It includes monitoring compliance with legislative requirements, as well as conducting audits, studies, and evaluations. It also includes carrying out investigations into allegations of fraud in external staffing and allegations of improper political activities.
Our third activity is staffing services and assessment, which accounts for $30.7 million of our spending. Here we also have authority to spend funds generated through cost-recovery. Through this activity we provide assessment-related products and services in the form of research and development, as well as assessment and counselling for use in recruitment, selection, and development throughout the federal public service. We manage systems such as the jobs.gc.ca website that link Canadians and public servants seeking employment opportunities in the federal public service with hiring departments and agencies. We have a growing volume of applications in the recruitment programs we operate, including post-secondary recruitment, PSR, and the federal student work experience program, FSWEP. More than 55,000 applications were received in the PSR's fall 2008 campaign. Last year applications under FSWEP numbered approximately 73,000. The PSC also operates a network of regional offices.
Our fourth and final program activity is internal services, with planned spending of $32 million. This activity provides all central services and systems in support of PSC programs, including finance, human resources, and information technology. Unlike other departments and agencies, our internal services include the offices of the president and commissioners, the library, and internal audit. In order to be more efficient, we have also centralized within this program activity our corporate support services, such as communications and parliamentary affairs, legal services, and acquisition of IT equipment and furniture.
I'd like to turn to some of the challenges in the public service that have implications for public service staffing. They include the increasing rate of departures due to retirements, the growth of the public service, and the high level of mobility that I spoke to this committee about last month. The federal government is Canada's largest employer. We have high interest in public service jobs. We had 22 million visits to our website and we received one million applications to 11,000 job openings in 2007-2008. This level of interest is expected to increase, given the current economic situation.
The modernization of the federal public service staffing system and the ongoing implementation of the Public Service Employment Act, or PSEA, are our responsibilities. We are moving forward with our planning for the five-year review required by the PSEA by December 2010.
In 2008-2009, we initiated a review of the PSC's oversight function by an independent committee, led by Larry Murray. The review confirmed the appropriateness and level of effort of the PSC's current approach to oversight. It concluded there is a need for increased capacity and resources for our monitoring activities. We have accepted the committee's 18 recommendations and three conclusions, and are finalizing an action plan to address them.
Operating on a cost-recovery basis for more and more of our counselling and assessment services is not without risks. We have grown our cost-recovery operations significantly over the past two years, from $6 million to about $11 million. We are currently in discussions with Treasury Board Secretariat to obtain the financial flexibilities we require to operate more effectively within a cost-recovery environment, such as additional carry-forward authority and front-end financing for investments in developing services and products.
We have created electronic recruitment and assessment tools for external hiring into the public service in support of staffing modernization and the implementation of the national area of selection. From pilot testing in 2002, the PSC has developed and implemented the public service resourcing system. It is now fully operational and accessible by all departments for hiring into the public service. The system costs $7.2 million a year to operate for the government, with a total project expenditure to date of $52 million. Our project has been on time, on budget, and has met all Treasury Board and contracting requirements.
Treasury Board funding for the current project will run out in two years. The current system has limitations, and investment is required to support continued staffing modernization. The system should be expanded to handle all internal staffing transactions. There were more than 67,000 of those last year. Without improvement, we face the brown-out and rust-out of our current tools, and limited advancement in improved reporting. An enhanced system would also be more user-friendly for job seekers, provide better screening and assessment tools, and provide greater flexibility. We believe these investments make good business sense and offer a significant return on investment. We estimate that significant annual savings, of approximately $38 million per year, will accrue to federal departments and agencies through greater operational efficiencies.
The PSC is preparing a submission to Treasury Board to obtain funding for the investment required for a long-term solution and the ongoing operation of this system beyond 2011.
Mr. Chair and honourable members, the PSC is committed to excellence in its work on behalf of Parliament and Canadians. We have received clean audit opinions from the Auditor General the last three years. We have effective internal audit and we received strong ratings by Treasury Board on our management accountability framework. l am encouraged by the progress that has been made in implementing the PSEA, but more work needs to be done. We have presented our plans and priorities for this reporting period, and we have also identified some of our challenges. We are confident we can meet them. Public service renewal, together with the modernization of human resources management, is critical in building a highly competent, professional and non-partisan public service.
Thank you. We are happy to take your questions at this time.