IT World Canada: As president of the Treasury Board, you have a mandate to drive cost-savings across government. How much is Shared Services Canada about identifying cost-savings, and how much is it about improving IT service delivery and process?
Tony Clement: I don’t think it’s an either/or phenomenon. I think obviously different parts of government have different aspirations for this. As IT continues to evolve, we want to male sure we have efficient processes, that our public servants are productive, that the interface is a positive one, not a frustrating one. All these things are part of the genesis for Shared Services Canada. At the same time, we’ve asked every major department and agency to come up with a five per cent and a 10 per cent savings plan as part of our efforts to get back to a balanced budget. Shared Services Canada will be responsible for that same kind of analysis as 66 other departments and agencies have had to go through.
ITWC: One criticism leveled by public sector unions and the private sector has been the lack of details around the plans for IT report. When will we see a business plan?
Clement: I think work is ongoing. Obviously the first part of a business plan is you’ve got to set a goal, and we’ve already done that. We’re talking about going from 100 e-mail system to one, going from 300 data centres to maybe 15 or 20, allowing the 3,000 networks to have a better capability to communicate with one another. We’re on our way that way. In terms of the implementation of these plans, it will start with the 2012 budget because Shared Services Canada will be then able to implement its part of our savings strategies.
ITWC: This isn’t the first time the government has embarked down this road, both your government and governments past, and there’s a certain degree of skepticism from the IT community. How are you convincing them that you’re serious this time?
Clement: I think we’ve done something that has never happened before; we’ve actually created the organization. There’s been a lot of talk about this, as I’m told, for over a decade, and nothing ever seemed to happen. I think the very fact we’ve been able to create Shared Services Canada, it has a chief executive, its starting to consolidate people and moving now from individual stove-piped IT services into the Shared Services Canada family, these things are happening now. We’ve gotten far beyond where anyone has been able to go in the last decade at least. It’s always good to have skeptics, and people challenging the system a bit, and that will perhaps lead to better systems in the future when it comes to how Shared Services Canada will implement its mandate. But we are making great progress.