Corrections Canada responses to budget queries

I was confused about Correctional Service Canada’s budget and sent the department a bunch of questions (and annoying follow-up questions). These are the responses I got to the latest barrage, received around 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 23 – about 10 days after I sent them.

Long story short, the answers are non-answers.

I wanted quarterly financial reports pre-2011, but that wasn’t a requirement before April 2011 so they don’t exist (or at least, the department can’t give them to me).

I’ve been wanting to say how much Corrections Canada spent in 2011-12, which ended March 31. Should be easy, right? Fiscal year has been finished for five months, and the PBO says it shouldn’t take more than a quarter for a department to post that info. But Corrections Canada won’t tell me how much it spent last year, or whether its most recent published estimate, from late 2011, is anywhere near accurate.

I went through CSC’s yearly departmental performance reports to get its annual spending figures and find out how much its budget has increased since the federal Conservatives came to power in 2006. Because I am both a nerd and crap at math, this involved laboriously typing numbers manually into a calculator, then repeating to ensure I had it right. To triple-check, I sent them the number I arrived at to see what they thought. They directed me to public accounts and spending information, but that was it.

I asked where the money to operate the new 2,700 new cells would come from. They don’t seem to know, or if they know they won’t tell me.

I wanted more details on three of the four strategies Corrections Canada has to make up the almost $300-million it needs to cut by 2015. They sent me the same one-sentence blurbs I’d received previously. Maybe I’m just a total idiot, but the “streamlining,” “consolidating” and “transforming” make little sense to me.

Pasted directly from e-mail:

Q1.      After reviewing CSC’s quarterly financial report from December, 2011, the reporter is seeking confirmation that the expenditures listed in the document (and those titled “authorities”) are dollars actually spent, as opposed to projected expenditures.

A1.      Two types of information are contained in the “Statement of Authorities” and the “Departmental Budgetary Expenditures by Standard Object” that is published in the Quarterly Financial Report (QFR).

•       The columns called ‘Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2012’  and ‘Planned expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2012’ represents the authorities that were available for use and granted by Parliament as of December 31, 2011.

•       The columns called ‘Used during the quarter’ and ‘Expended during the quarter’ are actual expenditures.

Please refer to the section called ‘Basis of Presentation’ for further information.

Q2.      Reporter is also seeking website location of quarterly financial reports for previous years?

A2.      As per Treasury Board Accounting Standard 1.3 ,  Departmental and Agency Quarterly Financial Reports (QFRs), became effective on  April 1, 2011. QFRs were not produced prior to this date and therefore are not available for previous years.  You can view this document here:http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=18292&section=text

Q3.      Reporter acknowledges that the quarterly report for the final quarter of 2011-12 (ending March 31, 2012) has not yet been published. She is seeking CSC’s total expenditures for the year. (The only published figures she has are from a November, 2011 Report on Plans and Priorities. This figure is $2,981,900,000 – about a 25 per cent increase from 2010-11.)  Does that figure stand, or need correction.

A3.      In accordance with policy, federal government Departments and Agencies do not publish a QFR for the final quarter. Final quarter information will be available via the Public Accounts of Canada that will be published later this year.

Q4.      Using DPR figures, reporter calculates that CSC’s budget has increased about 30 per cent since 2005-06. Can CSC confirm this figure?

A4.     Information regarding budget and expenditure information is found on our web site (http://www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/rptcan-eng.shtml) .  Additional information may be found at the following link, including a further link to archived budget information at Public Accounts of Canada:  http://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/recgen/txt/72-eng.html

Q5.      Reporter quotes Minister Toews interview from July 11, 2012, where he cited the figure of $637 million for the new cells.  What are the operating costs associated with those 2,700 new cells? Where will that money come from?

A5:  The new cells are in various stages of completion, so CSC has not experienced definitive operating costs for them.  However, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) expects the cost of operations to be similar to other ongoing operations.  You may find additional information athttp://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/res/cor/rep/2011-ccrso-eng.aspx#b3.

Q6.      Is it possible to get any more information on CSC’s cost-saving plans going forward, including specifically:

a.      Improving administrative capacity – consolidating certain support functions and activities.

b.      Streamlining Operations – seeking savings through more effective delivery of front-line services.

c.      Business Transformation – achieving savings through significantly transforming the way CSC does business.

A6:  As previously stated, CSC’s contributions to the Government of Canada’s efforts to return to a balanced budget are reflective of its commitment to fiscal responsibility, while also ensuring the safety and security of Canadian citizens.  To make that contribution, CSC has a number of cost-saving measures.  Together, they will contribute $295.4 million dollars over the next three years toward the Deficit Reduction Action Plan.  These measures fall into four themes:

·       Offender Accountability – recognizing that rehabilitation is a two-way commitment, CSC provides offenders with an opportunity to learn the skills they need in order to correct their behaviour.  It is then the responsibility of the offender to opt to use these tools and opportunities.

·       Administrative Capacity  – this will see CSC consolidating internal support functions and activities

·       Streamlining Operations – includes a variety of proposals which could deliver savings through more effective delivery of CSC’s front-line services

·       Business Transformation – involves initiatives that could achieve savings by significantly changing the way CSC does business.

Since 2008, CSC has been working diligently to transform its correctional system to ensure effective, efficient operations within its penitentiaries, increased offender accountability, and stem the flow of drugs inside institutions. This is all the information I have available to provide to you about CSC’s contributions to the Deficit Reduction Action Plan.

Correctional Service Canada quarterly financial report from December, 2011

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