Federal bureaucrats worry about jobs as cuts draw near
The recent announcement by Treasury Board president Tony Clement that a $1 billion in cuts for the 2012-13 spring budget is needed in order to follow through on the federal mandate of smaller government has civil servants guarded.
Currently civil servants wait with baited breath in the coming weeks not knowing in 2012 if they will be gainfully employed or tossed by the wayside.
Notwithstanding, future budgets cuts on the horizon give little comfort for civil servants who may be affected in 2012. This also affects those who supervise, as their position and salary are dependant on the number of civil servants they manage. If their staff go, the manager goes as well, along with the program.
Civil servants who are deemed safe in 2012, will suffer a year of prolonged anxiety come 2013-2014 when a $2 billion budget cut will, doubling to a whopping $4 billion annually by 2014-15 and so forth.
Perhaps civil servants affected by the 2012 job cuts may be the luckier ones, knowing their employment status in advance allows civil servants to take advantage of retraining opportunities, jobs in other departments, or being placed on a surplus list giving them first crack at any government job opening in any department. This may be a saving grace for them as there is no way of knowing if these programs will be around in the next budget cuts.
To add insult to injury, there is no guarantee, once rehired in another department, that department may fall as well in the next round of budget cuts.
While under the guise of Workforce Adjustment (WA), a government buzzword in eliminating duplication in departments and cancelling projects/programs not viable, affects the status of civil servants.
Canadians not directly affected as civil servants, comment with glee at civil servants hitting the unemployment line. Of course civil servants are all painted with the same brush as overpaid fatcats. One wonders how the ordinary Canadian would feel if a job ending career happened to them?
Not so hilarious now is it?
Currently as in the past for decades, government minions for the most part are tied to a psyche of bureaucratic redundancy, mostly managers and higher ups whose indecision is legendary, not wanting to make a concrete decision for fear of being unpopular by unseen political forces in their ministry, thus ending their career, in many cases the manager was never qualified in the first place to make that decision. This is prevalent for the most part when a decision must be made, with nary a one willing to make said decision.
The decision making process in the government is fraught with countless memoranda, meetings, emails, steering committees, many filled with management and minions who have no experience what is going on, but seem to be along for the ride in order to justify their position of employment.
To get the gist of government inefficiency in action, one only need watch the House of Commons parliamentary channel with a cast of political characters bantering back and forth in what can only be a comedy of errors Canadian taxpayers pay for. God forbid if the Senate were ever televised, Canadians witnessing that fiasco would be storming the ramparts, pitchforks and flaming torches in hand!
While many may disagree with Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative Government’s decisions, their elected mandate was to balance the budget.
As a Conservative member and supporter of our Prime Minister and the Conservative government, I would offer a word of advice garnered from a past instance where eliminating civil servants was too hasty and for naught.
While the hiring of outside auditors are in place in determining who is to stay and who is to go, these auditors rely on the information handed to them, in many cases the person(s) who should be cut but will cover their ass (s) at all costs. This is based solely on my own experience witnessing such chicanery amongst the Axe men as a former civil servant a decades or so ago. Certainly taking the advice from those doing the axe swinging should be revisited and delved a little deeper on the why, instead of the just because.
While the Liberals and NDP postulate and feign horror at this new round of government cuts. One wonders why they too earn a whopping base salary of $157,000 a year, including perks and other monies. Perhaps Canadians should question your Liberal or NDP Member of Parliament what is it they do to earn, what would take an ordinary Canadian 5 -10 years to earn?
The Conservative Members of Parliament at least are paid to govern versus sit in question period and attend meetings of redundancy and kiss babies for the most part.
To put it in proper context satirically for Canadians to understand, say your paid to do a job (Governing member of Parliament) by the Canadian taxpayer majority, who felt you were the best person for the job. Now say you have another person for instance a "know it all" brother in law, (Opposition Member of Parliament) whose job (Paid by the minority of Canadian taxpayers) to watch.
Now your brother in law's mission in life is to say "What are you doing?" or "Why are you doing that?" To add insult to injury, your brother in law gets paid the same salary as you do ($157,000.00 a year) except all he does is watch, report and critize your every move. If your brother in law doesn't like what you are doing or fails to understand what is going on, he goes into "Chicken Little" mode squawking and threatening to tell the Canadian Taxpayers and media wonks his way is better!
Of course, when questioned ( House of Commons Question period) if they have a better way of doing it, the brother in law(s) either comes up with a lame ass answer, fuddle duddles answering a question with a question, or insist on paying too much for the same result or even respond with, "hey that's not my job, that's yours!" Wow, and to believe the actual doer and the brother in law whose to watch, get paid the same salary, $157,000.00 a year. Outstanding! That's pretty much it in a nutshell!
I gotta get me a scam job like that!
Many Canadians fail to remember we endured Civil service cuts before under the previous 1990s Liberal government. The Liberal civil servant cuts of course went by another name, at least for one Ministry in particular called the Alternative Forms of Delivery initiative, or AFD.
Liberal government Alternative Form of Delivery (AFD) 1990 vs (WA) 2012.
In the mid 1990s, the Liberals called it another name, Alternative Forms of Delivery (AFD) in order to provide cost saving to other government ministries in order to appease the Canadian Taxpayer in reducing government bloat.
The difference between the two buzzwords WA and AFD was the AFD was put in place in order to eliminate government departments in one Ministry we shall call the “Ministry of Purse strings!” While good in theory, sort of, actually the departments remained, only the civil servants were gone for the most part, leaving the top echelon in place, echelon meaning the ones who were the axe wielders and supporters.
AFD was said to provide vast savings for this “Ministry of Purse strings”, Canada wide. The premise was to outsource the majority of services to a successful bidder, who would then provide these services back to the “Ministry of Purse strings” at a substantial savings. The caveat being the successful bidder had to hire all affected civil servants who used to provide these services.
While in theory, this would be a financial windfall for the bidder, “Ministry of Purse strings” and the Canadian taxpayer, savings were not realized. Why? Well you see this “Ministry of Purse strings” in their quest to outsource everything was the prime financial provider who held the purse-strings in providing services other Government Ministries were mandated to use. Think monopoly, and you are pretty much bang on.
This “Ministry of Purse strings” holding all the gold made the golden rules. While all ministries had money, it was on paper only, and these ministries could not just go out and buy from Ma and Pa outlets.
Ministries who needed money to purchase anything in order to run their projects and programs had to go to this particular “Ministry of Purse strings” as their sole means of support. This is where it gets interesting, the “Ministry of Purse strings” holding all the purse strings had outsourced the majority of their civil servants to the AFD contractor/consultant.
This “Ministry of Purse strings” would then contact the AFD consultant/contractor to provide these services requested by other ministries. Seems simple, if the AFD contractor consultant can do it cheaper, why not? Yeeeaaahhhh, well there was a small problem with that.
You see, the “Ministry of Purse strings” which previously terminated all their civil servants under the AFD to the outsourced contractor/consultant required the consultant/contractor never to provide these estimates for services directly to other ministries. Why? Well you see this “Ministry of Purse strings” had to review the consultant/contractor estimates first. Many times these reviews of the consultant/contractor estimates over a certain dollar amount for services would need endless meetings, steering committees, roundtable discussions, memoranda, and other associated bureaucratic balonium, all at the taxpayer expense of course. Well this is where the baby is thrown out with the bathwater.
While the consultant/contractor estimates were in line with the vast tax savings stated in their AFB bid, the “Ministry of Purse strings” had to recoup their costs in reviewing this consultant/contractor estimate and “Ministry of Purse strings” reviews don’t come cheap, in fact, the “Ministry of Purse strings” would then tack on a princely sum to the consultant./contractors estimate and present the new revised higher cost estimate to the other ministries who requested this particular product and or service.
Ministries upon receiving the estimate got sticker shock, realizing the old bait and switcheroo was being played on them when initially told that everything would be cheaper.
The unforeseeable happened that the “Ministry of Purse strings” who initiated the AFD hadn’t counted on. Ministries who were used to paying for similar services in the past, pre AFD kept invoices, so these ministries were succinctly aware of past project costs and purchases of a similar size and value being cheaper when the “Ministry of Purse strings”’ civil servants provided them. In laymen terms, if you always bought a gallon of milk from the same store, week after week for a year at the same price, would you not question the price of milk doubling in price when the week before it was half the price?
Ministries were to say the least angered by this, they felt lied to when initially told of big cost savings promised by the “Ministry of Purse strings”. Increased costs for these projects and purchases impacted their ability to provide their own departmental services as well, including affecting their own civil servants who counted on these projects in order to provide services to Canadians.
Ministries then contacted the ““Ministry of Purse strings” and demanded an explanation, tout suite!
The “Ministry of Purse strings” fearing the worst, lifejackets and oars in hand (just in case a raging fecal stream developed) met with the ministries. The “Ministry of Purse strings” met with these dissatisfied ministries and justified the increased costs assumedly using pie charts, familiar buzzwords, new age bureaucratic techno jargon, balonium theories, exhaustive taxpayer funded studies, inverse civil servant loafism versus political and managerial hierarchy cronyism, also by using costing in multi year forecasting showed the need for that extended warranty, including rust-proofing, whether you needed it or not.
All this resulted in one final word it seems, we the “Ministry of Purse strings” are the only game in town, according to our financial ministry rules, so if you want anything in the future from us, you better deal with it!
Certain concessions did develop, the ““Ministry of Purse strings” realizing they may have bit off their nose despite their face, hired back some of their former civil servants from the consultant/contractor in order to appease ministries they had done wrong.
While the decision falls on government management as the axe wielders to decide which programs or departments to cut, certainly it is justified in some instances.
The big problem being government managers doing the cutting are unlikely to fall on their own sword and admit they too are part of the bloat.
There are instances where government managers who are successful in wielding the axe of civil servant oblivion, a lucrative performance bonus is given to these government managers based on how successful their axe wielding abilities are, another reason why they are reluctant to fall on their sword and admit they too are a fatted calf.
My experience dealing with the government in many ministries is the axe needs to swing from the top in most cases, though unlikely to happen, when the Top is the Axe man doing the chopping.
Civil servants on the other hand who are affected, receive a pink slip in the form of a official plaque from the dollar store, usually presented at a ceremony by the Axe men who executed their careers in the first place.
Canadians, who feel strongly about civil servants losing their jobs, should demand the “Axe Cutting” come from the top first and not the roots which support the services Canadians rely on, just be prepared to pay a little extra for them.
Canadians voted for Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative government to make the hard decisions for us, including when the budget axe swings, as did the previous Liberal government when in power, so holster your wagging fingers, because the NDP would do the same or bankrupt us all.
My heartfelt sympathies go out to those whose livelihood and dedication to Canadians will be cut short, you know who you are! They are ordinary Canadians with families to support like the rest of us.
So when the axe unfairly falls on you, look back at the Axe man and say, “Et tu Brute ?”