Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon. I am pleased to meet with the members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
As you explained, I'm accompanied today by Mr. Bill Pentney and Monsieur Marc Bélisle. Without further ado, I will begin to explain PCO's 2012-13 main estimates.
The overall decrease of $13.9 million to PCO's financial requirements from $140.7 million, as reported in the 2011-12 main estimates, to $126.8 million in the 2012-13 main estimates, is mainly related to the following.
There is a reduction of $7.4 million since PCO transferred, on an ongoing basis, all of its information technology budget for the delivery of e-mail, as well as its data centres and network services, to Shared Services Canada.
There is a reduction of $3.9 million for the sunsetting in March 2012 of the Afghanistan Task Force. Since April 1, 2012, PCO has had a small team in place that will be providing a coordination role with respect to Canada's presence in Afghanistan
There is a reduction of $2.2 million for strategic review in order to reflect the savings to be achieved in the second year of implementation for strategic review. By 2013-14, PCO's ongoing budget reduction will total $5.7 million. The $2.2 million is the total cumulative amount of savings for the second year, given that $1.1 million has already been achieved in the first year, 2011-12.
There is a reduction of $1.1 million for security-related initiatives. In 2010-11, PCO sought ongoing funding to enhance the department's security in order to focus exclusively on the highest priority elements. PCO received $3.1 million for the first two fiscal years. Starting in 2012-13 and for ongoing years, PCO will receive $2 million per fiscal year. During the first two years of this initiative, PCO had to incur one-time fit-up and start-up costs for some initiatives, which explains the reduction of $1.1 million for 2012-13.
Finally, there is a reduction of $0.5 million for adjustments to employee benefit plans, which is a statutory item.
These reductions are partially offset by the following.
First, there is an increase of $1 million for the operation of the Office of the Special Advisor on Human Smuggling and Illegal Migration. The Special Advisor is responsible for coordinating the government's overall strategy and response to migrant smuggling, including through engagement with key domestic and international partners to promote cooperation.
As well, there's an increase of $0.5 million for the operation of the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River, known as the Cohen commission. The original terms of reference for the Cohen commission directed the commissioner to submit his final report by May 1, 2011. However, it became clear that more time would be needed. Therefore, a first extension was requested by the commissioner to submit his final report by June 30, 2012. An amount of $1.3 million is included in PCO's 2012-13 main estimates in order for the commissioner to submit his final report by that time. The increase of $0.5 million mentioned above represents the difference in funding for the Cohen commission between PCO's 2012-13 main estimates and those of last year, 2011-12.
By way of update, when we were before you on March 5 of this year, we informed you that the commissioner had made another request for an extension to the Prime Minister to submit his final report by September 30, 2012. This is due to the breadth of the mandate, the scope of document production, and the complexity of issues under investigation. That request was granted, but does not change the commission's global budget of $26.4 million over four fiscal years.
PCO's 2012-13 main estimates in the amount of $126.8 million do not reflect the decisions as announced in Budget 2012. The mechanism to decrease PCO's authorities in accordance with the Budget 2012 decisions will be the supplementary estimates process. By way of reporting to Parliament on these budget decisions over time, PCO will be using the quarterly financial reports to provide Parliament with regular and timely reporting on the implementation of these measures. This approach is in line with past calls by the Parliamentary Budget Officer to use these quarterly updates as a key vehicle for keeping Parliament informed of such spending changes.
Budget 2012 has made public the high-level results of the government's effort to reduce the deficit. PCO's portfolio total savings for this exercise are $12.2 million. This amount includes a $1.1 million reduction for the elimination of the Public Appointments Commission Secretariat, and a $2 million reduction for two other agencies under the portfolio. PCO's departmental contribution to this exercise totals $9.2 million in savings by 2014-15 to support the government's return to a balanced budget. As we modernize and transform the way we do business, we are cognizant of the need to preserve the right level of service to the , cabinet, and portfolio ministers, as w Prime Ministerell as maintain our core and unique capabilities to support the government.
To achieve the ongoing savings, however, we will have to change the way we work in some significant ways. For example, the Intergovernmental Affairs function, IGA, will be further integrated within PCO in order to eliminate duplication between elements of IGA and other PCO secretariats. This will provide more integrated advice to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The cabinet system will be streamlined, which will result in reduced administrative burden and produce savings over time.
The government communications function will be modernized and streamlined, including a new approach to media monitoring and analysis.
The Corporate Services Branch will review its business processes and adjust service levels.
All other branches will find ways to modernize their business processes and to achieve administrative efficiencies to meet savings targets.
In closing, I would like to thank you for giving my colleagues and I this time to inform you of the ongoing initiatives in the 2012-13 main estimates.
We would be pleased to respond to your questions.