All posts tagged Parliamentary Budget Officer

Another perspective on sick leave increases

Allan Cutler 

This piece was first published in the Hill Times on February 17, 2014.

There is a move by the current Conservative government to reduce sick leave benefits for the rank and file public servants. The argument is that the amount of sick leave being used has increased from the past and is excessive. Treasury Board figures show it at 18 days a year. This is more than a public servant accumulates each year. Looking at this ‘deficit’ usage, TB must be right about the increase. Public servants have to be drawing from the leave that has been accumulated over the years. Whether or not, TB does anything, this will eventually stop. Sooner or later, the public service will run out of sick leave credits.

Of course the above statement, as Tony Clement the President of TB is aware, ignores the unpaid sick days and long-term disability that are included in the 18 days. The impression is given that public servants are taking excessive sick leave. What is needed to truly understand the numbers is the total of each one.

For these, we have to ignore Tony Clement and go to an impartial authority, the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO), Jean-Denis Fréchette.… Read the rest

Turning information technology silk purses into sows’ ears (part 1)

Here in the dead of summer, accountability news is at its low point. There have been a few stories of interest, though. About four weeks ago, the Globe and Mail ran apiece about what the author called Canada’s “accountability deficit.”

In it, she describes the incredible inefficiency of government information management practices – the quirky, idiosyncratic systems set up by each department, the inaccessibility of data to the public and the outrageous cost of it all.

A week later, the federal Access to Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, urged Canada to take the lead in making its data more accessible to the public. As if responding to her, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, launched a database which allows Canadians better track and understand how government money is spent.

And now, just this week, anti-virus software giant McAfee released a report which revealed massive hacking attacks on targets around the globe – including the Canadian government – which, you might recall, had to practically shut down two departments earlier this year due to just such an attack.

Putting aside the right of citizens to know what their government is doing, these stories show how backward our government is in information security, how entrenched current practices are and what the consequences of this can be.… Read the rest

Government still mum on whether it will staff appointments commission

This story has been around for five years now. Back in 2006, just after Harper won his first minority, he started to fulfill his promise to create a public appointments commission. In theory, that would have ended (or at least weakened) the patronage system by having all public appointments go through a merit-based process.

But when he tried to appoint the first Commissioner – a businessman from the Alberta oil patch – the opposition cried foul. They felt the proposed appointee was a Tory loyalist and so rejected him. Put into a snit, Harper refused to try again, blaming the opposition parties. This reluctance to put his picks to a multi-party review process had the effect of convincing critics that he wanted to put in a lap dog.

But things have changed: the Conservatives now have their majority. Yet, while it is early days, they are declining to even reveal whether they plan to get the commission going even though they could put in anyone they wanted.

(And once again they are using the “we abused the system so people would demand a better one” argument.)

This has critics again speculating. Some, such as Duff Connacher of Democracy Watch, remain convinced that Harper will put in a lap dog.… Read the rest