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Federal spending on consultants increased by 16% in 2023, according to PBO

“Spending on professional and special services continues to increase,” reads the Nov. 17 “Supplementary Estimates 2023-24” report. “Total proposed authorities for professional and special services are at a record $21.6 billion. This amount will likely increase with additional spending requests in the next Supplementary Estimates.”

The PBO noted that despite a plan to cut costs on consulting, spending in 2023-24 remains above previous years’ levels.

In the 2023 budget, the federal government announced it would reduce spending on consulting, professional services, and travel by approximately 15 percent, amounting to an approximate savings of $500 million. That would amount to spending reductions of $350 million in professional and special services and $150 million in travel across 68 organizations.

Earlier this month, cabinet had disclosed that federal government managers paid the consulting firm KPMG $669,650 to get advice on how to save money on consultants, according to a Nov. 3 Inquiry of Ministry obtained by Blacklock’s Reporter. The disclosure was made at the request of New Democrat MP Gord Johns, who questioned if any third-party management firms were contracted to assist with identifying spending cuts.

“We are doing the same thing as families across the country. We are refocusing our spending, we are making sure that we are watching taxpayer dollars and spending them prudently and efficiently,” Treasury Board President Anita Anand told reporters on Nov. 9.

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Ms. Anand also said this was just the first round of spending cuts for departments, which was primarily focused on external contracting and travel.

“You will see in future iterations of our results that there will be additional items we will table, and it won’t be exactly the same across 68 departments,” she said.

Budget Officer Yves Giroux, in his April 18 testimony to the Senate National Finance Committee, found fault with the planned travel cutbacks.

“With successive governments having announced reductions in travel expenditures, if we followed all these commitments throughout the years, the Ottawa airport should be closed by now,” he said. “It’s still open.”

When asked if the government had lost control of its expenditures, Mr. Giroux said, “I don’t know if they have lost control, but I can certainly say expenditures are rising. If you plot this on a graph and look at the trend, we see the trend line going in one direction over the next three years.”

Parliament has not boasted a balanced budget since 2007. The Department of Finance has yet to announce a target date to eliminate annual deficits.

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