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President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario Tony Clement leaves the House of Commons following Question Period on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday October 5, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldThe Canadian Press

Here is the letter sent by Treasury Board President Tony Clement warning government departments against "March Madness" spending:

Dear Colleague,

We have all been working hard over these past weeks and months on identifying ways to improve government operations and save money for taxpayers. As we approach the end of the current fiscal year, and as we move into the final stages of our spending review, it is more important than ever that we maintain a high degree of respect and consideration for every tax dollar that is spent in federal departments.

We have already taken a number of steps to ensure that operational spending is prudent and accountable. This includes the imposition of a freeze on operational spending across the federal government for three years. Still, we must always remain vigilant in ensuring value-for-money for Canadian taxpayers.

In the past, we have heard stories about what is known in Ottawa circles as "March Madness" when organizations spend unused operational funds on things such as new furniture, promotional items, stockpiling of IT hardware, and other purchases that fall outside of existing contractual obligations in order to expend their budgets prior to the end of the fiscal year. This type of expenditure – dictated by the fiscal calendar rather than real departmental needs – is something that our government strongly opposes.

As you know, spending authority for operational matters is often delegated to various officials within federal departments. I would encourage you to speak to your Deputy Head and remind him or her that operational spending decisions must be based on value-for-money and address real, immediate needs now and in the future. I have already directed officials at the Treasury Board Secretariat to continue their work scrutinizing public expenditures and to pay specific attention to operational spending proposals.

I appreciate your continued support in ensuring that federal spending is prudent and delivers value-for-money for Canadian taxpayers.


The Honourable Tony Clement, M.P.

President of the Treasury Board