Mr. Speaker, given the government's strong commitment to improving the efficiency of government operations and to deficit control and reduction, the amalgamation of common services embodied in Bill C-52 makes eminent sense to me.
It has been clearly demonstrated that one of the primary causes of waste and confusion is the unnecessary duplication of services and functions both within the government and between levels of government.
In these times we simply cannot afford to have human and financial resources diverted to performing tasks throughout many departments and agencies of government when such tasks can be more effectively and much more cost effectively handled through a central agency.
This is the primary rationale behind the creation of the new Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada. Although it is just about a year since the amalgamation began, a number of efficiencies and savings have already become apparent. There will undoubtedly be many more such savings in the years ahead as the benefits of this integrated approach take full force.
Public Works and Government Services Canada provide common services to more than 150 federal departments, agencies and crown corporations. It provides them with a wide range of services to meet their needs, including property management, communications, printing and publishing, translation, architectural and engineering services.
It also looks after the issuing of all Government of Canada payments and undertakes billions of dollars worth of procurement on behalf of its clients each and every year. In short, Public Works and Government Services Canada is there to look after thousands of administrative transactions daily on behalf of its clients so that individual departments can focus all their time and energies on their own programs and priorities. To me this is a very good thing.
The amalgamation of the four founding elements of the new department, that is the former departments of Public Works Canada and Supply and Services Canada, as well as the government telecommunications agency and the translation bureau, has already paved the way for efficiencies of operation. For example, the corporate services areas of the individual components are being integrated. Corporate services encompass such central functions as finance, administration, corporate planning, contract claims resolutions and security, among other areas.
When taking into consideration the operational reviews that have been carried out and the recommendations, as well as the new systems to be implemented and the amalgamation, these initiatives will result in the savings of expenditures totalling $180 million over five years from the date of amalgamation. This sounds good to me.
Regional operations have also been integrated and the total number of regional offices reduced from 10 to 6, again another cost cutting service. This has been achieved with no less service to client departments or, most important, to the general public. Clearly the new integrated Department of Public Works and Government Services has already demonstrated that it can provide a more comprehensive service to the government and, more important, at a considerable cost saving to the taxpayer.
While the efficiencies that Public Works and Government Services can effect within its own organization are substantial, they represent only a small part of the story. By bringing together the experience and expertise of the component organizations we are creating within the department a centre of expertise more extensive and more skilled than we have ever had in the past.
This in turn will help create savings and efficiencies not only in the Department of Public Works and Government Services but through all government departments and all agencies.
The department will facilitate government-wide savings by providing re-engineered systems for use by all departments. Such sophisticated systems as electronic procurement and settlement, automated biowork station, a travel escort system and so forth will provide throughout the government streamlined processes, better ways of delivering services, rational resource allocation and more savings.
In its central position with close links to all departments and agencies, Public Works and Government Services can and will play a leading role in many government initiatives aimed at cost cutting and the reduction of duplication.
For example, the department is very actively involved in the government initiative known as locally shared support services. The basic idea of this initiative is to consolidate service and reduce costs by having departments and agencies located in the same building or complexes share certain physical support services. Again this is a very good idea, one-stop shopping for all.
These might include such functions as security, mail room or facility management. Individually, these arrangements may be quite small, but taken collectively over hundreds of federal installations all across Canada, they can add up to many millions of dollars in savings to Canadian taxpayers. Again, I would hope the House would see this is a very good thing and a very good idea, one worth our full support.
Public Works and Government Services has organized to support and encourage this initiative through its regional delivery network. It has identified two phases to implementing this scheme. In the first phase large departments, including Public Works and Government Services itself, will make use of their size, their regional representation and economies of scale. They will offer their services to smaller departments.
In the second phase re-engineering and integration of electronic services will be added. This phase will provide telecommunication and informatics infrastructure, office automation and video conferencing as well as total office support facilities similar to those in the private sector.
A number of these innovative initiatives are already being pilot tested during this current fiscal year. Certain economies have already been put into place across the country such as sharing of reception services and joint management of storerooms and warehouse facilities.
The point is that the creation of the Department of Public Works and Government Services through the amalgamation of most of the government common service agencies will not only help Public Works and Government Services to make substantial cost efficiencies within its own organization, it will also create a consolidated centre of expertise and leadership that can help scores of departments and agencies throughout the government introduce similar economies to their own operations.
This will add up to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings to Canadian taxpayers in the years ahead. This is reason enough for all of us in the House to support this legislation and to give speedy passage to Bill C-52.