We hear a great deal from all 135 about things we could improve. Most tangibly it is reducing the system of internal controls, and we do. We insist on deputy head sign-off before something goes into your blue book. So we have assured ourselves that the items there have budget source of funds, they have received the appropriate executive approval, and then we still have the department deputy head sign off on the substance.
They have asked us if we could streamline that somehow, and we are looking at various options for data extraction. Right now it's largely done manually, several times. It's done manually in our call letter, in the department manually, and it comes back to us manually again.
We're in the process of changing that system. That should be a big one that will have an impact within TBS, not so much on my colleagues in the departments.
We are looking at ways that we could possibly streamline the mechanics, but not really the sign-offs because we do need that level of accountability.
There have been some real questions. For organizations that don't change from year to year that are basically FTEs, why do they have to keep coming in? Could we explore doing almost exactly the same thing from year to year where there are no changes, so they wouldn't have to input, but it would still come to Parliament—not a multi-year appropriation, but just no new paperwork—so you would know there have been no changes?
We frequently get questions as to supplementary estimates. Do we need three? Supplementary estimates (A) are important only for those fortunate few who have something in the budget that's well enough developed to get into supplementary estimates (A). Supplementary estimates (B) are the big ones. That's where you see the significant changes over the year. Supplementary estimates (C) are absolutely critical for somebody who has something urgent, but perhaps we could address it differently.
So some push back.... In a growing economy there were some very good reasons to have three, but less so as we're reducing. But it's also optional for organizations. They do not have to come in for supplementary estimates unless they require them.
It's really all the other add-ons to our reporting, when we send out requests for specific information where we need departmental input, we really try very hard to build on existing mechanisms because that's the primary complaint, and it goes to reporting burden.