May 26, 2010                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION                No 27

The Management Commission met at 5:30 p.m. in the Chamber.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Yes, good evening.

I would like to welcome members of the House of Assembly Management Commission, and staff of the House of Assembly to a regular meeting of the House of Assembly Management Commission.

As with every other meeting prior to the start, for the pleasure of those who are watching us by means of television, we will ask members to introduce themselves.

I will start at my immediate left with Mr. Ridgley.

MR. RIDGLEY: Bob Ridgley, MHA, St. John’s North.

MR. KENNEDY: Jerome Kennedy, MHA, Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

MS BURKE: Joan Burke, St. George’s-Stephenville East, and Government House Leader.

MS JONES: Yvonne Jones, MHA for Cartwright-L’Anse au Clair.

MS MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Kelvin Parsons, MHA, Burgeo & la Poile, and Opposition House Leader.

CLERK: Bill MacKenzie, Clerk.

MS LAMBE: Marlene Lambe, Chief Financial Officer.

MS KEEFE: Marie Keefe, Clerk’s Office.

MR. SPEAKER: My name is Roger Fitzgerald, by virtue of being the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chair of the Management Commission.

Prior to the televised meeting that we are witnessing and experiencing right now, the Commission met in camera at a closed meeting, and as required by the House Of Assembly Accountability, Integrity And Administration Act I will now report a decision that was made at the in camera session.

The decision was, as provided under subsection 19.(1) of the House Of Assembly Accountability, Integrity And Administration Act, the Commission, at an in camera meeting, approved a proposed organization structure of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, the details of which will be reported at the next meeting of the Commission.

I understand members might want to make a quick commentary on the results of the in camera meeting, and I will recognize Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just for the record, I want to state that - because it is a personnel matter, of course, we are not permitted to discuss the details of the matter nor should we, and I will not, but I want it made known that I vigorously opposed this decision that was made in camera and voted against such.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I too want to say that I was opposed and am opposed to the restructuring that was suggested, and I too voted against this in the in camera session.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Jones.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would also like to have it noted for the record that I am opposed to the restructuring plan put forward by the Child and Youth Advocate Office. I would like it noted for the record.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank members for their commentary.

The first item on the agenda is the approval of the minutes of the March 24, 2010 regular meeting of the House of Assembly Management Commission. Members have had an opportunity to view the minutes, and if there are no errors or omissions, the Chair will entertain a motion to accept the minutes as written for March 24, 2010.

Moved by Ms Michael, seconded by Mr. Ridgley, that the minutes of the March 24, 2010, meeting would be accepted as written.

All those in favour, ‘aye’.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay’.

The motion is carried.

Minutes adopted as circulated.

MR. SPEAKER: The next item on the agenda is the – I am sorry.

Mr. Ridgley.

MR. RIDGLEY: Just in terms of business coming out of the minutes, Mr. Speaker, number 035 there, the Committee on overtime.

MR. SPEAKER: You are going to give us an update on that particular – sure, by all means.


Just to briefly state that we had a meeting on April 21, the Committee met briefly. Subsequent to that, we have had some research done and we will be meeting again tomorrow morning. I guess, for the next Management Commission meeting we should have a report.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Ridgley.

The next item would be the Speaker’s Report regarding Delegated Authority for Urgent Financial Matters. Members will see under Tab 3 that there were three expenditures that were provided, and because of the end of the fiscal year, normally this would be brought back to the Management Commission for approval. The procedure is, write the Speaker, the Speaker would reference it to the Management Commission, but with the meeting not happening within the deadline for having the expenditures paid for, we did contact the members of the Commission, and by contacting the members we have received approval to pay three expenditures that certainly fell within the guidelines of expenditures that were eligible for payments.

One of them was for the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace, for a total cost of $320. The other one was for the Member for The Straits & White Bay North, $129.52. The other expenditure was by the Member for St. John’s South, $1,224.70. Those three expenditures did meet the test of expenditures that should be paid but were over the sixty-day deadline, and I bring those forward for reporting purposes only.

The next item on the agenda would be an item that is quite familiar with the Management Commission. It is a report on double billings, as identified by the Auditor General’s report in 2007. It shows us the status of members’ payments. This was brought up, and I think a member asked for this status report. That is included here, which shows that, other than the three members who have been identified - who are, I guess, going through civil claims at this particular moment, Mr. Andersen, Mr. Byrne and Mr. Collins - that the percentage collected for double payments outside of those three members is up to 92.29 per cent. I guess, and I ask the Clerk for clarification, that the three members and the remainder of that particular percentage would be reflected on the other three members, Mr. Shelley, Mr. Sparrow and Mr. Ramsay, who have already put efforts in to arrange payments on a monthly basis to settle their double billings.

The Clerk.

CLERK: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, that is essentially it. If we exclude Andersen, Byrne and Collins – and I will have a comment on those, I will come back to – then there is still $11,000 outstanding of the total $212,000 that the Auditor General identified.

When we last brought the information to the Commission, there were four members who had not made any payments. Those issues have now been addressed. Three of them have paid in full, and Mr. Ramsay has given us a number of post-dated cheques to cover his balance. Mr. Shelley has given us some postdated cheques. Mr. Sparrow has not given us postdated cheques, but I call him now and then, and he will send us $100 and $150, in that range. So he is making his efforts, but he has not used postdated cheques. So those are the only three outstanding, excluding those three that you mentioned.

Members might have noticed in the paper, weekend perhaps it was, that Mr. Byrne has agreed to the civil action initiated by the Office of the Comptroller General, and acknowledged the full range of the debt. So we anticipate getting that money back eventually. Obviously, it is a large debt he owes the Crown. The $19,000 respecting double-billings is a very small part of the overall debt, but at some point we assume we will get that. I anticipate, since Mr. Byrne has agreed to that, that a similar resolution might be forthcoming with Andersen and Collins.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: So, from one sheet, from what we had before to the present, we are saying that the three who paid would include Graham Flight, Roger Grimes and Melvin Penney. So that total before, for the four members who did not pay – well, with the three, plus the two, was $14,500.


MS BURKE: Now when we go back to this present sheet, when add up Paul Shelley, Anthony Sparrow and William Ramsay, what is the total amount for those three right now?

CLERK: What is there, the $11,376, is the outstanding balance. That is not their original amounts and so on. So for instance, Ramsay, on the original sheet you were looking at, was $5,658.

MS BURKE: Right.

CLERK: He has now made payment, so he is down to $4,715.

MS BURKE: Okay, I guess I have two different sheets here now. I have one that will say the $6,109, $552, and $4,715, and in one sheet it adds up to over $11,000, and in the other sheet it just adds up to over $6,000.

CLERK: Yes, the one with $6,000 was an error in the formula. So we passed out this $11,000 one. The addition of those three obviously did not compute, came to $6,000, so the $11,000 -

MS BURKE: Okay, so I have two sheets here.


MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Mr. Ridgley.

MR. RIDGLEY: I am not sure if we asked this before, Mr. Speaker, but is there any encouragement by way of interest charges being given to these members to pay? I am not sure that there are many places where you can get interest-free loans.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: It is not easy to simply unilaterally impose interest. If you have court judgement, the court can impose certain interest. If it is a statutory matter, various statutes will allow you to add a certain rate of interest to outstanding debts, but in the case of these three, and in fact, all these members, excluding Andersen, Byrne and Collins, there is no court judgement on the matter. We have simply gone to them, we say you owe it, you clearly owe it, there is no dispute in the matter, so pay up – but that does not give us the right to impose an interest on the outstanding balance. We would have to go to court and seek a judgement is my understanding.

MR. RIDGLEY: So we would have to go back to court to get permission to charge interest?

CLERK: I think so, yes. That is my understanding.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

If not, we will move to Tab 5, the Policy for Hiring External Consultants. This again, came as a request from the Management Commission, that the Commission develop a policy for hiring external consultants. Somebody did a great piece of work here, and I will ask the Clerk to give credit due and to explain the process here.

CLERK: Well, Ms Lambe did most of the work on this.

When the Comptroller General did his Review of the Management Certification Contract and Related Documents back in the spring of 2009, one of his recommendations was that we take the Executive Branch guidelines for the hiring of external consultants and modify them such that the various authorities applicable to the House or the Legislature were reflected in the policy. This is true of a number of government policies. They will talk about going to Treasury Board or going to Cabinet or what have you. Obviously, that does not work for us. There has been a sort of tacit understanding with the Comptroller General that on certain policies if it says go to Treasury Board, we would go to the Commission, but in this case, he thought it should be made explicit.

So we have taken the Executive Branch guidelines – and those are attached here – that is the document entitled, Guidelines Covering the Hiring of External Consultants December, 1992, and there is a revision date there prepared by Treasury Board Secretariat. That is the current policy at work within the Executive Branch. As the note says, they are working on revisions of it, but that will be a Cabinet decision, so we were not provided with their proposed revisions. Until Cabinet has dealt with the matter, we only have the 1993 version.

At any rate, so we went through it, references to Treasury Board and Cabinet were updated to reflect the Legislature, and that is a very straightforward piece of work. On the second page of the briefing note, you will see a heading, Comparison to Government Policy. In that, I will show the more substantive changes we have made from the Executive Branch document. So, we have reflected the structure of the Legislature, some minor editorial changes have been made, those were not significant. Then there were eight matters, which while not significant, we felt we should bring to the Commission’s attention.

So in those numbered sections, under the briefing note heading, Comparison to Government Policy, when it says a given section number, section 1.4(e), that refers to the government policy, the existing Treasury Board guidelines. So any amendments or omissions we have made, we are using as a reference the Executive Branch guidelines for the hiring.

We have deleted a section respecting technology transfer. Now that is neither here nor there, it is an obvious, desirable matter for the Executive Branch, I just did not know if the Legislature had to fret about technology transferred to local companies. It could be in or out, really.

Section 2.5, Referral to Cabinet, the issue there is while we could have a referral to the Commission for small matters to refer to the Commission just did not seem warranted. We have to balance both Treasury Board as the equivalent of the Commission, and Cabinet as the equivalent of the Commission. They have two layers, we only have this Commission. So, we omitted that.

Number three, section 3.4(b), construction projects; I cannot see the Legislature ever getting engaged in a construction project. We would turn to the Department of Transportation and Works for that.

Section 4 requires a bit of discussion. This policy, the Executive Branch and ours, talks about seeking request for proposals for various matters. You need at least three requests, bids, to come back to make a fair assessment. However, if there is a serious matter of confidentiality or perhaps time sensitivity urgency, the government policy allows a department to go to Treasury Board, explain the need for confidentiality, and request that they be excused from the seeking of proposals to, in effect, do a sole-sourced contract with the consultant.

The problem we have with the structure in the Legislature, and we ran into this a couple of years ago, if a given caucus were coming and had a specific consultant in mind that they wanted to hire, legal, architectural, financial, whatever, if they wanted that one individual, the policy says they would have to go out and get three responses. To come to this Commission and explain why, for instance, they did not want to put out the request for proposals, would lose the confidentiality inherent in their issue. Now, it came up once a couple of years ago. Without getting into details, in the end what we did was we talked to that caucus, and the individual eventually went on the payroll system as a temporary employee. So, it was solved in that manner at that time, but that will not always work if it is a company. You cannot put a company on our payroll as a temporary employee.

So in this case, instead of proposing that the request not to proceed with proposals come to the Commission, we said the Speaker, if the need to hire a consultant is from a caucus, if it is from an office, from staff, a stat office, it would come to the Commission, just as in the Executive Branch it would go to Treasury Board.

Section 4.1, Cabinet Selection; that is simply at a certain dollar level in the Executive Branch, Cabinet has the right to review the recommended responders. Section 4.2; again, engineering, design, architectural. I cannot imagine the Commission would ever use. Section 4.3(a), that is another reference back to the referral to Cabinet. That ties in with the referral to Cabinet. Section 4.5(i) is another sort of technology transfer provision of enhancing the strength of the local consultant community.

So those are essentially the changes we have made. The biggest point was to achieve the Comptroller General’s recommendation that the authorities of the Legislature are reflected in the policy.

The options we have put are rather straightforward. Adopt the new one, continue with the old. Wait until the revisions are made to the existing Executive Branch policy and see what that applies.

That is it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Commentary?

Mr. Parsons.


Item 4 there, Mr. MacKenzie, section 3.6(c) again, I am not clear. I was following you as you were explaining it but I did not get the end result. For example, say the Liberal caucus wants to hire, for Budget purposes, say we want to hire an economist for some purpose. According to my read of the draft guidelines for the House of Assembly, the caucus has to come back to the Management Commission to get approval for that, or go to the Speaker?

CLERK: I will defer to Ms Lambe on this one, because she is the real expert.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: No, the intention is, that is the type of situation that the caucus could go to the Speaker and the Speaker could give them permission to go ahead without going out under the normal consultant guideline process.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: So where does it say that in the guidelines? Because I am reading 3.0, it says scope, it says the policy is to be followed in all circumstances where the House of Assembly Service, a statutory office or a caucus office engages the service of an external consultant. So, that is the general rule that the Scope of this guideline applies. So, where would it say that you would go to the Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: 7.6(d).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Okay. That is what I am trying to establish here, 7.6 –

MR. SPEAKER: (d). Page 8 of 12.

MS MICHAEL: 6 of 12.

MR. SPEAKER: 6 of 12, I am sorry.

MS MICHAEL: "Where the subject of a project…"

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Okay. I have just read this now, obviously, but that still does not seem to say that the process does not apply. The scope says it does apply, but under (d) it says, "Where the subject of a project or study requires a high degree of confidentiality, Caucus Offices must request Speaker approval to suspend the requirement to request for proposals."

MS MICHAEL: But the heading says Suspension of Mandatory Proposals; the heading of the section.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Okay. That is clear.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary, Mr. Parsons?

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, that is clear.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was glad actually when I read that section, 7.6(d) because that was my question all the way through until I got to that because I said what was there prior to that did not seem to meet the needs of the caucus, but this certainly takes care of it.

I just want to point out one word that I think, because of the cut and pasting that was going on, that got – I could be wrong but I do not think it is meant, 8.2 on page 7 of 12, 8.2 Management Commission Referral for Selection. It says, "A department must refer…" - I think that must mean an office or division.

CLERK: We missed that one.

MS MICHAEL: Yes, you probably picked it up already, okay. Everything else is okay for me.

MR. SPEAKER: So the correction there would be -

MS MICHAEL: Instead of saying a department, it should use the same language as every other place, an office or division; because in the Executive Branch it was departments they were talking about. So, this was a cut and paste edit that did not happen. That is what I assume and I am being told yes, in actual fact that is what happened there.

MR. SPEAKER: Finished, Ms Michael?

MS MICHAEL: Yes, I am.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: I have three sections that I wanted just to make some commentary on. One is 6.4, which speaks about Overruns. It says, "In cases of contracts awarded at set amounts, offices and divisions must receive Management Commission approval to authorize payments which are in excess of 110 percent, in the aggregate, of approved contractual amount. If the Commission is not able to meet in a timely manner, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, in consultation with the Government House Leader, the Official Opposition House Leader and the Leader of the Third Party, may give approval to authorize the payments and report the approval at the next meeting of the Commission."

I was just wondering, is there anything to say that before the work is completed that will result in an overrun, isn’t that when we should have the approval, as apposed to once the – to me it kind of ties our hands. I know we still have to make the decision, we do not have to pay it and all that, but once the work is done in excess of the amount that was agreed to. So could we add something there that would say that it has to be approved before it is completed?

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Are you thinking, like when the payment hits the 100 per cent mark then it would stop at that point?

MS BURKE: Well, what I am thinking is, like say we contract somebody for 100 hours to write a report, they know at hour ninety there is ten hours left and how much it would - and they need another fifty.


MS BURKE: So, would they go and do all the extra work and then bill us at 150 hours or would they - when they know they cannot do it, at least come in so that we could approve it beforehand? Because once it is done we are stuck with the overruns, whether it is 110 per cent or 150 per cent at that point. I know we are not, but there should be some mechanism in place that if somebody is working outside the contract that we have an opportunity to address it before it hits this point.

CLERK: Yes. In cases we have had since the Management Certification Overrun, which led to all of this, we are rigorous with the contractor. They do not - when they are hitting 90 per cent they tell us, and we say: Well, when you hit ten cents short of 100 per cent you stop work.

The ones that Ms Lambe and I tend to deal with, that should not be an issue. These guidelines also suggest that I would be the signatory to contracts. Am I correct in this Ms Lambe, even if it were the caucus office requiring the work?

So I can insist on that element. I mean we have been down this road once –


CLERK: - no more overruns that are not authorized; but a way of writing that, I am not sure. Ms Lambe do you have a suggestion, if there is a way 6.4 could capture that?

MS BURKE: May I suggest that we include in our policy, that if a contractor is going to complete work over and above the 100 per cent that prior approval must be obtained before any further work proceeds. Just so that we are not caught after the fact trying - and being as diligent as you want, if somebody does the work without permission you cannot watch that either. So, I think that if we had something like that it might protect us more than where we have been in the past.

MR. SPEAKER: Are you suggesting that we might just change that 110 per cent to 100 per cent?

MS BURKE: Well, what I would say in cases of contracts awarded at set amounts, offices and divisions must receive prior approval from the Management Commission in order for any work in excess of the awarded contract is completed. Before any work –

MR. SPEAKER: So the 100 per cent would take care of that rather than the 110 per cent?

MS BURKE: It is a prior approval though, to go -

MR. SPEAKER: Prior approval.

Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Well, in the Executive Branch, of course, is after it gets 110 per cent rather than 100 per cent that you would need. Yes, I agree, it says approved contract payment rather than basically the work itself. I think the wording could be changed so that you are saying that the approval for over 110 per cent needs to be before the work is done, not before the payment is done.

MS BURKE: Right. I would say anything in excess of 100 per cent before it is completed needs prior approval, not just the payment but the work itself. I just think we are getting ourselves stuck in this one that we are paying for stuff that we have not approved.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: It seems to me we could live with 100 per cent as long as this provision, which is very similar to that minute 2008-095 for an urgent financial matter, if indeed the second part of 6.4, if the Speaker, following consultation, could authorize it. We are just concerned that there may be a consultant working in the summer, meetings impossible and cannot get a quorum. I do not think 100 per cent is a problem.

MS LAMBE: Well –

CLERK: Go ahead.

MS LAMBE: It is not really a problem. You are talking about 10 per cent over the contract. Sometimes it can be as small as $50 or a couple of hundred dollars. To have to get prior permission for that before the work is done might be challenging. Like you say if there is no meeting, you can consult with the Speaker and the leaders.

That is the only challenge I can see with changing it from 110 per cent to 100 per cent, which is the norm in the Executive Branch. In their case, as Ms Burke said, it is only before the payment is made that the approval is given, not before the work is done. It makes much more sense before the work is done rather (inaudible).

MS BURKE: I think 100 per cent is cleaner. If we do not meet, that is our problem and for the work that is being delayed. I do not think it is an excuse to allow contractors to go above and beyond at the taxpayers’ expense after to come back again. I think that if we left it at 100 per cent, but prior approval before the work continues.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael, on this issue?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Besides the fact that it is in the Executive Council document, is that an industry standard, the 110 per cent?

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: I am not sure. Most private places would not have such a rigorous process in place in the first place with requiring request for proposals. Normally, they just select whoever they want.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke, you are going move away from 6.4 now?

MS BURKE: Yes, I have two more.

MR. SPEAKER: Are the other ones easy –


MR. SPEAKER: - that we can make a motion to adopt the policy with the changes, or is going to be a situation where we need to clarify a lot of the things and bring it back?


MR. SPEAKER: So it is going to be simple?

MS BURKE: It is going to be straightforward.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further commentary on 6.4 that we make it 100 per cent rather than 110 per cent, and to have it done before the work is completed, have that wording placed in 6.4?

Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Do you want me to speak on that again or go to the next one?

MR. SPEAKER: No, we have agreed on that, so we will not go back have somebody disagree -

MS BURKE: Okay, that is fine. Do you want me to go to the next one?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, please.

MS BURKE: Okay, 7.2, the Consultant List. It reads, "Offices and divisions are encouraged to prepare and maintain an up-to-date list(s) of appropriate consultants who have expressed an interest in submitting proposals for government work. The consultant list(s) shall be an item of public knowledge and an updating process be such as to provide opportunities to newer entrants."

I guess what I wanted to say there is the list of consultants is an item of public knowledge and there should be a public updating process to be such as to provide opportunities for newer entrants. I think that sometimes we might depend on people who have worked in government or know about government and get their names in and get on a list, but I think there needs to be a public call on a regular basis so people could know that this work is available and get their qualifications or whatever – their CVs submitted.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to speak to that in light of section 7.5 and 7.6. Section 7.6 is the Suspension of Mandatory Proposals and under that we just had clarification that it means that if a caucus office wants to hire somebody, it would be a subject where a high degree of confidentiality is required, the caucus office would go to the Speaker, et cetera.

It is possible, if that is the case, a caucus office may not want to have names on the public list, so I am wondering – 7.6 refers to mandatory proposals, which I am assuming just means section 7.5 coming under the suspension. It would seem to me that the consultant list is sort of in a category where confidentiality might be required as well. A caucus office may not want to have a public list. I think it needs to be considered as an exception under 7.6(d).

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: We have not given a lot of thought to that. Obviously, it was brought over from the Executive Branch which, when you consider all of the departments, they have a much greater need for consultants than within the Legislature.

We have hired, I guess, accounting firms, obviously and primarily, we have others doing things like the Members’ Compensation Review Committee work. We do not have a great call for these consultants as if you were a Department of Transportation and Works and so on. I guess when we looked at it the word encouraged, which echoes various resolutions that come forward in the House at times of urging or encouraging or so on, we are not sure if that actually means we are locked into this, that there is an encouragement to prepare these lists.

To be honest, unless Ms Lambe has some thoughts, I never really gave a lot of thought that we actually would develop a list. The only field in which I could see us, as the House of Assembly service, developing such a list would be accounting. I do not know what other one. That is the service we always seem to be using.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Lambe.

MS LAMBE: Most of ours are going out for a public call of proposals anyway, so you are not going out looking at three people, selecting three people and asking them to submit a proposal. We have been going out for public, so it is not relevant in those circumstances.

MS MICHAEL: From caucus perspective, most of the consultants I can think that we would get, for example, would have to deal with policy and that is where the confidentiality issue comes in.


MS MICHAEL: If it is somebody who is going to do something practical in the office like our legislative assistant, well that is a short-term hiring so that is different because the person comes on staff, but consultants are usually dealing with policy.

CLERK: I do not know if I have a -

MR. SPEAKER: Before we move on - because I do not think we are clear here - Ms Burke to continue.

MS BURKE: My comment is if we are saying in the policy that we need to have a public list, my suggestion is if you are doing a public list you need to have a public call to make sure people understand this work is available, or are we at a point where we are saying – I do not like seeing stuff in a policy if it not going to be acted upon. If we are not going to do these lists and we are not going to make them public and we are not going to updating them in a public way, do we need this as part of our policy? Because once we approve it and it is there, we should be following it.

MR. SPEAKER: That is right, a guideline.


MS BURKE: So we should not be going out to accounting firms or whatever, if they are consultants and they are not on our list, and have not applied - so if it is not going to happen and it is not going to impact our ability to get the best price and be able to get people who are qualified to do the work, I would just as soon as strike it as to have it that we are not going to use.

MR. SPEAKER: So what is your proposal, that we delete –

MS BURKE: Only if we are not going to use it. If we are going to use it I would like it strengthened and if we are not going to use it, take it out.

MR. SPEAKER: I understand where Ms Michael is coming from because sometimes a caucus might feel like using - and it has been done in the past, where you use somebody who is closely associated with the party. You hire them on as a consultant to look at a piece of legislation and to advise you on a go-forward basis. Well, it is going to be kind of difficult to take that one person and put them on a list that you feel might be there for - a public list be created and this particular consultant might be hired to do consulting for that particular piece of work only. That has been done I think with all three parties in the past, and it certainly meets the test. So I can understand where you are coming from.

I am hearing that the suggestion is that we take out the complete 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5 and 7.6.

CLERK: No, just 7.2.

MR. SPEAKER: No, just 7.2.

Ms Burke, does that meet your -

MS BURKE: That means the next item I was going to bring forward is also taken care of, because the next part that I was going to suggest would relate back to this part. Once we take this out, the other part was - and I will just point out what I was going to say.

Over in section, page 10 of 12, (k) Re-assignment of Work. It talked about subcontracting, and my comment was going to be if we have a list of contractors, plus the subcontractors need to be on the list, but if we are taking out that it does not matter. The subcontractors do not matter. Well, you can still have it approved by the office or the division but you do not need a list.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

If not, the motion is, pursuant to paragraph 26.(b)(2) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Commission adopts a policy for hiring external consultants dated May 2010 for the employees of the House of Assembly service, caucus offices, the statutory offices with the deletion of 7.2 and a wording change for 6.4.

CLERK: 6.4. That will go to 100 per cent with prior approval.

MR. SPEAKER: Rather than 110 per cent with those two changes? I see agreement.

All those in favour, ‘aye’.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay’.

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda is Tab 6, and it is Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules. Here is a change that has been put forward. I think it was first identified by the AG, the Auditor General, and then it was also identified as a problem with the Audit Committee.

In the past, when members were unable to come forward with the original documentation, or I guess in lieu of the original documentation, whether it be a photocopy, a copy or a fax copy of a statement itemizing an expenditure, the House of Assembly staff always accepted an e-mail or a piece of correspondence from the staff of that particular member as long as it was copied to the member in order to initiate payment. The Audit Committee and the Auditor General felt that this should be corrected and the staff not be the person who would provide the documentation but it would come in writing from the member.

Would we have to bring this one back the second time, Mr. Clerk?

CLERK: No. I was going to say that, Mr. Speaker, in the recommended minute where we talk about first approval, most of the rule amendments we do are increasing expense amounts which are subject to the process of subsection 15(5), comes twice to the Commission to increase dollar amounts. But, in this case where there is no dollar amount, you are simply amending a rule, it has nothing to do with expenses, annual allowances or anything else, it only has to come the once.


CLERK: So we can settle it today but it still requires the gazetting. Where we say the word first, in first approval, we actually do not need that. We could just say gives approval.

MR. SPEAKER: Gives approval.

Do members have commentary?

This was a suggestion, as I said, they came from the Auditor General’s report and the Audit Committee identified it too, as something that we should clean up and have the photocopy identified by the member in writing who is making the claim, rather than a copy to the member.

Seeing no hands up for commentary, the recommended minute would be: Pursuant to section 64(1) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Commission gives approval to the following proposed amendment to the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules subject to final wording by the Office of the Legislative Counsel.

Subsection 16(5) of the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules is amended by adding immediately after the word "explanation" the words "from the member".

If there is no commentary, could somebody move that motion?

Moved by Mr. Ridgley, seconded by Ms Michael.

All those in favour, ‘aye’.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay’.

The motion is carried.

The next one is a little bit of a different one, and I am going to ask Marlene because she is the one that has been dealing with this and it is the Accommodations and Daily Meal Allowance. Here again, it is way that the rules are written. The corporate services are having a problem with the wording of the rules whereby the confusion lies in ministers sometimes do constituency work when they travel and do not identify their travel because they claim car allowance, so there is no need to identify their travel or identify the trips that they make to the capital region. Other times members come to the capital region to attend a Management Commission meeting or any other committee meeting and while they are here may overnight or spend one or two days doing constituency work and there is no way now of corporate services identifying and separating, with the way the rules are written, those particular expenditures because there is no trip involved. In order to have expenditure, a trip has to be involved with the way that the rules are written. So it is something that should be corrected.

I am going to ask Marlene - I just gave it to you in Reader’s Digest version. Marlene can explain it a little bit more, make it more confusing probably, and then we can look at the Recommended Minute as put forward.

So Marlene, and then we will entertain commentary after.

MS LAMBE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I think you did a really good job. I think that really explains the situation. I do not know if there is any need to elaborate that much.

I guess it is particularly troublesome for us at Corporate and Members’ Services for when we are processing claims for members who are ministers because most of them are in receipt of the car allowance and, as a result, we really have no idea when there making a trip to St. John’s, especially when the House if not in session. So we do not know what day they come in and what day they leave. So normally, if there is private vehicle usage, we will look at what day you left and what day you returned or whatever and we look at approving the meals and accommodations between those dates. Of course, in the case of a member who is in receipt of a car allowance, we cannot do that.

The rules are vague. They say that if the House is not in session, for example, you can have your twenty trips, your meals and accommodations; it does not tie the meals and accommodations to the trips. We think it was probably meant to be implicit in the rules, but obviously it is impossible to monitor. So, we would like this direction so that it is quite clear that it is permissible to allow the meals and accommodations without proof of an accompanying trip.

MR. SPEAKER: Having said that, the travel and the meals will be in compliance with all of the rules that exist around accommodations and meals and constituency allowance.


MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk.

CLERK: Just to elaborate on what Ms Lambe said. The various auditors, both internal auditors and external auditors, have looked at this, they have asked a couple of questions, they have never complained about it, never written us up as it were, or brought it to our attention, but they ask. That is why we need some clarification one way or another. They are not saying it is in violation but they are scratching their head. Should you or should you not be getting the meals and the accommodations if you do not have a trip?

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Parsons.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, we have certainly all had an opportunity to read this through. Again, it is a case where we are living with rules that, obviously, it takes time to figure out sometimes what they do mean or do not mean. Given the advice of the corporate staff and the internal and the external auditors with the ambiguity, I would move that the action recommended there would be adopted.

AN HON. MEMBER: Seconded.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that "Pursuant to subparagraph 20(6)(b)(i) of the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, the Commission approves the reimbursement of expenditures related to accommodations and the provision of meal allowances without associated travel expenditures in circumstances where the expenditures are related to constituency business and in compliance with the Rules."

All those in favour, ‘aye’.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay’.

The motion is carried.

I am going to refer the next one to the Clerk who is responsible for approving office furniture and having it reported back to the Commission. There has been a request in that we might want to adjust or amend the office expenditures, provide a few extra chairs and other things in order to accommodate the wishes of some members who have had some busy constituency offices. So, I refer to the Clerk.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is perhaps the most serious matter we will address this evening. The rules do require the Commission to set up this furniture package, and we cannot vary it. So, if someone comes looking for an extra chair, we just cannot give them chairs. The Commission is going to have to approve this increase in the number of chairs which we now have four – well two more, I guess, is the thought because larger groups are in waiting areas of constituency offices.

The other one, I guess, it shows that, as staff, we are somewhat out-of-date. We thought two desktop computers and a laptop to share would be acceptable and that is what staff brought forward back in 2007 when we established this equipment and services package. In fact, what we are finding now is the members would rather have two laptops and we will leave one desktop in the office. So, it is the same number of computers. It is simply instead of two desktops and a laptop we would say three computers, two of which may be laptops. So the net result is we would have a few extra chairs and they would have a laptop instead of the two desktops.

What we have also found – and Ms Lambe is often dealing with members as they set up these offices – instead of three computers, which they are permitted, they now will accept two laptops and that is all they need. They are not even looking for desktops in many cases now. So there is no increased cost if you are only going to have two laptops versus two desktops and a laptop for a total of three.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Although members may now have three computers – because initially they may have had the two desktops and the laptop. Why don’t we just amend it that you can have two computers?

Now, if you are going to have two desktops, and you have no portability with that, that is your choice. If you take two laptops, both you and your assistant have access to move those computers with yourself whenever you are going. It is as simple as that. You do not need the third one. If you choose a desktop, you are making that choice that you are not going to have a portable computer. No big deal.

I do not think we need to be splitting it between desktop and laptop. I know that it was the previous rule. There are some who may have the three based on this. I do not think we should be out taking them back right now, but on a go-forward basis, you are setting up your office, you have a computer and your assistant has a computer. If you want a desktop or a laptop, it is your choice. You do not need both.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary?

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: I think that is a hard thing to do, and I will give you an example. I have dealt in the past with carpal tunnel syndrome and I need an ergonomically correct station if I am going to work. I think everybody needs an ergonomically correct station if they are going to work. Laptops do not give you an ergonomically correct station. For me personally, having a laptop for travel is great and in emergencies you use it, but for the regular usage, I personally would need – I do need a personal computer with an ergonomically correct station.

So I think the suggestion that is being made takes away from that potential. I really do, because it could be that both the MHA and the assistant need their PCs and yet you still want to have a laptop for when one or the other is on the road travelling. So I understand the reason for this. I do not think we should make somebody choose where a laptop could be their permanent station. That would be my concern.

MR. SPEAKER: What I understood the suggestion was is that we just take out two of which may be laptops and the equipment include three computers, so it would be completely up to the –

MS BURKE: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke, who made it.

MS BURKE: I said two, but I also understood it is saying that – and I am thinking about my own constituency office now. I do use a laptop, but I do not use the keyboard. So, I assume we would still have access to the equipment if you needed the bigger monitor or keyboard and sometimes you just use your laptop as your hard drive, but you still have your regular keyboard, the desk and the monitor and that set up. Am I correct?

MR. SPEAKER: Here again, I am just making a suggestion, why don’t we just say that the equipment include three computers?

MS BURKE: (Inaudible) I was just cutting it back to two.

MS MICHAEL: Yes, and I am saying do not cut it back to two.

MR. SPEAKER: Members are entitled to three now, so we are not taking – if we are cutting it back to two, we are taking a computer away from them.

MS BURKE: No, but I guess I was just going back to what Ms Michael was saying that if you still have a laptop and you are using it at your desk, you could still have it set up, with your keyboard set up and your monitor set up as you want, and the laptop basically serves as a hard drive at that point. Am I correct? Your mouse and your keyboard and all of that are separate from your laptop.

MR. SPEAKER: The Clerk. Commentary?

CLERK: Yes, Minister Burke is right on that. At the top of the second page of the note, one of the things that we did not clarify in the existing package was this issue of accessories: keyboards, docking stations, monitors and so on.

If you will note the Recommended Minute, we have at the very end of it: including accessories, because that was not clarified before. Now whether it is two or three is sort of immaterial, but we cannot be fretting about another keyboard or a docking station or so on, so we have to include that in the package.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: The thing is that you can use the laptop that way but it takes up extra space as well having the docking station and the laptop on your desk, for example. Believe me, I do not have enough – I know it does not affect me, but I do not have any more space on my desk that I can use up, whereas when you have the PC, the PC is on the floor. I just think let’s leave it at three. I mean really and truly I just think it is practical. If you are only moving your laptop once every three months, but if you have to do it on a fairly regular basis it is a bit of a nuisance as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Ms Burke.

MS BURKE: Well, I move mine every week; set it up when I am home and take it when I am leaving. The keyboard, the monitor and the thing it is all put on, so it is not – anyway, it is not in the way. If we want to leave it with three, my suggestion is let’s say three computers. We do not need to be prescriptive between laptop and desktop and whatever. I would think the desktop is becoming obsolete, to be quite honest, with these little computers that you plug in, put it on a docking station and plug in what you need to do - it is something some of us every single week.

MR. SPEAKER: I am hearing agreement and I will read the Action Required. Pursuant to subsection 25(1) of the Members’ Resources and Allowances Rules, the Commission directs that the standard office allocation be amended such that Office Furniture includes six visitor chairs and Equipment includes three computers (including accessories).

Made by Mr. Parsons; seconded by Mr. Ridgley.

All those in favour, ‘aye’.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay’.

The motion is carried.

The next item on the agenda will be the Budget Transfers Report. As the members know, this falls under the Transfer of Funds Policy and it requires only certain budget transfers to be approved by the Commission. However, in a prior meeting to ensure transparency, it was proposed that all transfers of funds should be reported to the Commission.

While there are a number of transfer of funds here that have already been approved by a Commission minute, which is number fourteen, fifteen and twenty-seven, some here, members may have seen for the first time. If members have had an opportunity to look through the transfer of funds, then by all means if there are questions to be asked or explanations given, we can raise them now. This is for reporting purposes only. We do not need a motion to adopt or to rescind.

Do members have any commentary regarding the transfer of funds? If not, I just want to, again, thank Members of the House of Assembly and thank staff of the House of Assembly for making themselves available for this regular meeting of the Management Commission.

The Commission will try to meet again within the next couple of weeks. There is some rule amendments that need to be, here again, considered. I think it should be done sooner rather than later, at least to give members information and provide them with knowing whether we are going to accept their proposals or the Commission is ready to hear what they suggest in making some rule changes that make a lot of sense to me, but it has to go through the Commission in order to be ratified.

The Clerk will poll the members of the Management Commission.

The Clerk - any final commentary on that?

CLERK: The House, it appears, will still be open then in a couple of week’s time, so I guess we will try for another Wednesday evening immediately after the House. Is that -

MR. SPEAKER: Wednesday seems to work well.

CLERK: We will try two weeks from today.

We have the quarterly financial information which would be the year-end now, so we have that. I will just say a couple of rule amendments, the RFP to recreate the financial information for 1999-2000, 2000-2001. There are a couple others, of those matters, sort of loose ends, so we should try to get done before the summer. So, we will try for two weeks time.

MR. SPEAKER: Further commentary? Closing remarks? If not, I thank members again.

Adjournment is in order.

Could somebody move?

Moved by Ms Michael; seconded by Ms Jones that this meeting do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour, ‘aye’.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay’.

This meeting now stands adjourned.