The provincial government is considering the consolidation of more than 40 customer contact centres and a broader exercise designed to reshape the civil service by using human resources more effectively.
The ideas are being considered as part of the Strategic Program Review, under which the government is working with New Brunswickers to identify $500 million to $600 million in savings and revenue in order to eliminate the deficit.
“We have been looking closely at where the government has been spending money and identifying areas where efficiencies can be found,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau, who is also the minister responsible for the Strategic Program Review. “We are also looking at areas where services to New Brunswickers can be improved. Consolidating contact centres and rightsizing the civil service would be part of these efforts”
Each of the government-run centres operates independently, has different service levels, has a different approach to call handling, and there are technological differences from centre to centre. There is also a lack of formal documentation and training materials across the centres.
“There is a tremendous amount of experience represented on the various teams which would be supported through consolidation,” said Boudreau. “Employees working in consolidated centres would receive better training, including the ability to be cross-trained, and would have a wider knowledge of government programs and services.”
Through consolidation, the government believes it could enhance the delivery of programs, increase the overall quality of services, and expand hours of service.
“Consolidating these centres would provide the opportunity to invest in technology and improve services by establishing service level agreements that consistently meet customer needs, promote stability, and respect privacy and language considerations,” said Boudreau. “This could all be done while achieving savings.”
Savings for the contact centre project are estimated to be up to $5 million once fully implemented.
In addition, the government will consider opportunities to reshape the civil service and find savings. This includes attrition, reclassifying positions, combining positions, eliminating unneeded and vacant positions, as well as rationalizing the layers of management and rightsizing management.
“By undertaking organizational effectiveness exercises, the civil service could be reshaped to simplify management levels and to be more innovative and flexible, allowing it to more easily adjust to the needs of New Brunswickers,” said Boudreau.
A report on the choices available to government will be released in the near future and will reveal some of the initiatives being considered. Decisions will be made in time for implementation in the 2016-17 provincial budget.
The public is encouraged to find out more about the Strategic Program Review online.