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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Surprise: more bureaucratic bloat and waste found in Ottawa

The Government of Canada is showing us, once again, just how consistent it is in bloating its bureaucracy and wasting our hard-earned tax money, and how desperately it tries to keep this fact hidden from Canadians who foot the bills. It’s a disgrace, of course, but such traditions are so entrenched and pervasive, I doubt it really matters who the political masters are at any point in time.

The most recent examples of bureaucratic waste and bloating in Ottawa can be found in a highly-critical report by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie on transforming the Canadian Forces. Gen. Leslie spent the last year preparing a report on how to transition the Canadian Forces to a leaner, meaner and more cost-effective organization. His report—shocking even to this cynic—calls for deep cuts to civilian ranks at National Defence Headquarters.

And, not surprisingly, Ottawa bureaucrats apparently tried to stymie the report, interfering in Gen. Leslie’s efforts well before he’d finished the report.

According to the National Post:

“His [Gen. Leslie’s] report has been circulating within the military for more than a month. Despite repeated requests, bureaucrats and political staff have refused to release the report to the public.”

Sets one’s teeth to grinding, doesn’t it.

Among Gen. Leslie’s 43 recommendations on reducing “the tail of today while investing in the teeth of tomorrow,” is the need to eliminate or reassign 3,500 regular forces personnel who currently hold jobs that serve little purpose and to cut 3,500 civil servants in the defence department.

Ouch!

The general also recommends reducing by half the number of full-time reservists at headquarters—a saving of 4,500 personnel—and converting them to part-time service, while preserving and strengthening their ranks within communities.

Gen. Leslie also believes it’d be a good idea to cut 30 per cent from the $2.7-billion spent annually on contractors, consultants and services provided by the private sector.

Apparently, the practice of retiring one day and returning the next as a high-paid consultant is widespread in our federal bureaucracy. It’s a scam, of course, and we are paying plenty for it.

We hear much from our elected officials about the budget deficit, but other deficits exist in Ottawa, like spunk, transparency and accountability, not to mention the seeming lack of a sense of responsibility to taxpayers.

In the private sector, we talk about “fiduciary responsibility,” a responsibility of care for the assets or rights of another person. Your accountant, attorney and insurance agent usually has a fiduciary responsibility to you. As an accountant and former notary public, I can tell you this is serious business and carries stiff penalties for those who flaunt such responsibilities.

Does anyone in Ottawa really give a damn about caring for our tax money? Going by reports like Gen. Leslie’s, there doesn’t seem to be.

For those readers with strong stomachs, I offer my sources at the end of this essay for more detail on Gen. Leslie’s findings and recommendations.

Personally, I doubt those in charge have the political will, or backbone, to implement the more controversial of Gen. Leslie’s recommendations. They’ll probably save some money, but most of the potential savings will be lost to political expediency and just plain mismanagement.

Oh, my aching wallet.

[Sources: Globe and Mail, National Post]

 

 

© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
 
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.

1 comment — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. I fear you are correct based on the government's track record to date. The refusal to cease shovelling our money to the state broadcaster is but one example. Our money also continues to be given out to the so-called arts community as though Canada has neither deficit nor debt.

    Any government that is serious about cutting the excess from government programs and departments would never allow the senior bureaucrats to decide where and what to cut. One might as well expect the fox to guard the hen house. To be successful this exercise must be carried out by outside professionals without a vested interest.

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