Cuts to the public service already starting to bite!
Audit Services Canada winds down
While media are focused on the proposed numbers of professionals involved in cuts to Canada’s public service as an attempt to offset the budget deficit, there is little being written as to which specific services will shrink or cease to exist as a result of the cuts. We can expect that most services identified for the chopping block will be discreet and unobtrusive but staffed by professionals who are hugely committed to what they do.
Last spring, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) was identified as one of 13 departments that would perform a review of its spending through the Strategic Review process. Two initiatives at PWGSC were identified during this exercise and will begin to wind down service as a result of cuts to personnel: Audit Services Canada (ASC) and the Consulting, Information and Shared Services Branch (CISSB).
Of the approximately 687 positions to be eliminated across PWGSC in the next three years, the first 92 affected employees are professionals working for ASC.
Audit Services Canada is a PWGSC revenue-independent organization that federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal government departments and agencies can engage on a fee-for-service basis. In fact, in special circumstances, services are offered to foreign governments and international organizations.
With a 50-year track record of helping the public sector improve accountability and operations and as a former component of Consulting and Audit Canada, ASC has been a key strategic partner in supporting the government’s implementation of the policy on internal audit. Internal audits provide independent and objective advice on the effectiveness and adequacy of risk management, controls and governance processes.
Audit Services professionals ensure the transparency of government spending. In the last fiscal year, ASC was cost neutral to PWGSC billings equalled operating costs.
Professionals employed in ASC offer a wide range of audit and audit-related services. They review a function or program for their clients to ensure that it meets the mandate or policy it is intended to serve. They also make recommendations to generate efficiencies, improve accountability and operations and reinforce federal government priorities. These evaluations provide independent and objective advice on the business performance of programs, policies and initiatives and as such ASC is a valuable quality assurance organization.
The reasoning behind PWGSC’s decision to eliminate ASC because it doesn’t fit into the current mandate is puzzling to ASC personnel who are of the opinion that ASC was never part of the PWGSC mandate and always operated as a separate department. Disgruntled employees believe that PWGSC is using ASC to meet the Strategic Review requirements by eliminating a department without an in-depth review of PWGSC services and programs. ASC employees firmly believe that they perform a core government function, ensuring the transparency of government spending through third parties. In addition, in the last fiscal year, billings for services were equal to operating costs, making the ASC cost neutral to PWGSC. Employees are of the opinion that PWGSC is making a mistake in eliminating this service. Some believe that a wiser decision would be to separate ASC from PWGSC. The ASC could then be operated in a manner similar to the Auditor General’s Office. Over the coming months, we'll be doing our best to track the full consequences of the public service cuts – and we are looking for your help.
We are seeking to establish a team of volunteer "cuts-watchers" who will collect information on how services are being hit in a particular area or sector. We hope they will help us to build a database of how the cuts are biting across the country, which will be searchable by the public.
Ideally, cuts-watchers will have an interest in social affairs and public services and be willing to do some research on the extent of the cuts in their area, but if you'd just like to tell us your personal story, we'd like to hear from you, too.
If you're interested in getting involved please email us at (email@example.com). In your email please tell us if you have any area of expertise, which part of the country you are in, and how much time, on a monthly basis, you'd be willing to devote to helping us with this project. If you have written or blogged on any related subjects, please do send us links. We'll get back to you soon.