Maclean’s Exclusive: The PBO says it is still not getting all the information it wants

‘Very few have provided all of the requested data and information’

In the wake of last month’s Federal Court ruling, the interim Parliamentary Budget Officer promised to follow up with government department and agencies and sent letters requesting information on the Harper government’s budget cuts.

Last Friday, the New Democrats publicly followed up with the government in Question Period, but on May 22, in response to a letter from NDP leader, the interim PBO provided Thomas Mulcair with a progress report. Here is that letter from the interim PBO.

On April 25, 2013, we sent information requests to each federal organization affected by the savings measures announce in Budget 2012. I asked that responses be provided by May 10, 2013. I am pleased to report that as of May 21, 2013, almost two-thirds of organizations have submitted responses.

While the majority of organizations have submitted some documentation, very few have provided all of the requested data and information. For instance, many departments and agencies have refused to share data pertaining to service level impacts, some indicating that they believe it to be outside my legislative mandate. As well, others indicate that they do not track cash “outflows” required to achieve savings, such as workforce adjustment costs or capital investments. Finally, several have also classified their responses as “Secret,” circumscribing my ability to use these data.

Based on the current number and content of responses, at this time, I am unable to complete the analysis you requested. We will continue to pursue the requested information from the government. We will report back to you in due course.

I’m told there’s been no substantive progress since this letter was sent to Mr. Mulcair. The PBO is expected to release in the next week an interim report on the information it has obtained.

I’ve emailed this post to the office of Tony Clement and will reprint whatever response I receive.

Update 4:29pm. A response from Mr. Clement’s office.

The Government continues to provide the PBO with information that falls within its mandate.

Departments are reviewing the PBO’s request as they endeavour to meet Ms. L’Heureux’s request, and significant progress has been made.

We continue to report to Parliament through the normal means, including the Estimates, Quarterly Financial Reports and the Public Accounts.

Here, for the record, is the request from Mr. Mulcair that started this.

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