Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We're pleased to be here today with the committee on the two clauses. With me are Alain Duplantie, the chief financial officer and senior assistant deputy minister for corporate services; and Graham Barr, our director general for strategic policy, planning and reporting.
Shared Services Canada was established in 2011 to modernize the Government of Canada’s information technology infrastructure.
SSC delivers email, data centre, network and workplace technology device services. SSC also delivers cybersecurity and IT security services to the Government of Canada.
SSC is pleased with these legislative amendments. They will help us implement our mandate. They also directly support our minister's mandate letter, in which she is asked to modernize procurement practices so that the practices are simpler and less administratively burdensome.
Among the advantages, the amendments would help SSC to offset the large administrative burden of the low-dollar-value procurement transactions we currently do for others. As well, they would allow us to focus on the more complex and strategic transactions. This would make it easier and faster for departments to get the IT goods and services they need in order to deliver digital services and programs to Canadians. In short, we think they would provide a win-win solution 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 the IT contracts and ensure economies of scale. As well, we will continue to perform the supply chain integrity assessments, to ensure that only trusted equipment and software are used in the delivery of key 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 to authorize the minister responsible for SSC to delegate to other ministers the power to procure certain IT items related to our mandate. This could include items such as microcomputer peripherals like keyboards and USB keys, using Shared Services Canada's standing offers.
Currently, departments do not have the ability to procure these basic items on their own, and SSC provides little value added 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 from 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 that 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, not very practical. This could apply to embassies, consulates, and defence deployments overseas run by Global Affairs 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 closing, I also want to explain how we got here.
In September 2015, Order in Council 2015-1071 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, back in September 2015, SSC assumed responsibility for a number of existing PSPC procurement tools, but it didn't have the authority, which this legislation now provides, to delegate low-value purchases to others, the way PSPC could and did. This meant that SSC also assumed the sole responsibility to execute all acquisitions related to the delivery of shared services, including procurements on behalf of departments.
Overall, this resulted in a substantial increase in low-value, high-volume transactions flowing through Shared Services Canada. 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% of those transactions were below $25,000.
The amendments we are discussing today would help to offset the administrative burden that SSC is experiencing and provide additional flexibility to SSC in meeting our customers' needs. It would be a lot more efficient for the departments to access these vehicles themselves.
The amendments are also consistent with the delegation of authority provided under the portfolio of Public Services and Procurement Canada. They are based on a proven model that ensures efficiency in procurement while centralizing purchases of higher complexity. As it moves forward, SSC will seek input from its clients regarding the implementation of a potential delegations framework.
We would now be pleased to take the committee's questions.