Well, someone seems to have wildly misunderstood the role of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

But I’m not sure that someone is Parliamentary Librarian William Young.

From his appearance before the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (September 19, 2006)

Senator Day: [...] How much is this person [the Parliamentary Budget Officer] under your control and your budget, and how much is this person with you, in your physical area, but not really part of you?

Mr. Young: That was an initial concern when the bill was tabled in the House of Commons. For an accountability act to create an officer who is not accountable, which was the initial interpretation I had of the bill, was a bit of a contradiction. I pointed this out and there was an amendment introduced in the House to ensure that this officer is accountable through me to the Speakers so that the Library of Parliament cannot function as a two-headed monster.

There must be one person responsible for its estimates and spending. There must be one person accountable for its work to you people. Within that framework, however, I see this person as being akin to an associate parliamentary librarian with a special designated function. Because there will be a special designated function, obviously that person will need the ability to make decisions with regard to that function, to carry out the responsibilities associated with that function and to have the support required to do his or her job in an appropriate manner. The position would include an independent mandate to some extent within the library, but it would definitely, for the purposes of accountability to Parliament and to the Speakers, who are my bosses, flow through me.

Senator Day: When you say “accountability,” accountability in terms of how many people he or she hires; what the overall section budget will be; what the estimate is for the next year?

Mr. Young: Yes, that is correct.

Senator Day: That will all flow through you and through you to the Speakers?

Mr. Young: That is correct.

Senator Day: Are you satisfied now with the changes that have been made in that regard? Are you satisfied that the flow of authority and responsibility will be there?

Mr. Young: It could be slightly clearer in some ways but by virtue of the for greater certainty, section 74 and subsection 75(2) apply in respect of the exercise of the powers described in subsections 1 to 3. The bill says in subsection 74 and 75, 75(2) that the Parliamentary Librarian has the rank of a deputy head of a department of the Government of Canada, and subject to section 74, which refers to the Speakers and the joint committee, has the control and management of the library. I am satisfied with that amendment introduced in the House that the lines of authority are clear enough. [emphasis added]

Senator Hugh Segal, as quoted in the Ottawa Citizen (November 6, 2008):

“Any dispute that may exist between the librarian and parliamentary budget officer as to the appropriate authority and freedom for the latter should not be determined by a fiat from any source … but by discussion by parliamentarians in the appropriate committee,” said Mr. Segal in a letter to the two Speakers. [...]Mr. Segal said the Speakers’ view “defies understanding” of why the job was created. He said the library wouldn’t need legislation to create the office to simply hire another librarian or budget researcher.

“Mr. Page was not hired as a servant of the librarian of Parliament,” said Mr. Segal. “He was hired as the servant of Parliament.

“To reduce (Mr. Page) to that of just another researcher in the Library of Parliament is a travesty of the idea behind the office and the government’s intent.”[emphasis added]




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