2013-14 Report on annual expenditures for travel, hospitality and conferences

As required by the Treasury Board Directive for the Management of Expenditures on Travel, Hospitality and Conferences, this report provides information on the total annual expenditures for each of travel, hospitality and conferences for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. It also provides the variance explanations from the previous fiscal year in each of these areas.

This information is updated annually and does not contain information withheld under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act.

Expenditures on travel, hospitality and conferences incurred by federal departments and agencies are for the most part directly related to supporting departmental mandates and the government's priorities. The mandate of the Transportation Safety Board is to advance transportation safety. This mandate is fulfilled by conducting independent investigations into selected transportation occurrences to identify the causes and contributing factors of the occurrences and the underlying safety deficiencies.

The jurisdiction of the TSB includes all aviation, marine, rail and pipeline transportation occurrences in or over Canada that fall under federal jurisdiction. The TSB may also represent Canadian interests in foreign investigations of transportation accidents involving Canadian registered, licensed or manufactured aircraft, ships or railway rolling stock. The department's travel expenditures are primarily dependent on the frequency and location of transportation occurrences. Travel expenditures are also incurred by the TSB for employees to attend training in their field of expertise. The credibility and success of the TSB depend on its ability to develop and maintain a competent and diverse professional workforce. Given the international nature of transportation, training and conferences on topics relevant to transportation safety are primarily held outside of Canada and travel costs are required in order to attend.

The TSB endeavors to minimize hospitality expenses to the extent possible. Expenses are primarily incurred by the TSB as a result of the requirement for employees to work through normal break or meal periods due to operations or business meetings.

The TSB rarely incurs expenses to host conferences. Conference expenses generally represent conference registration fees where a TSB employee has participated as an official representative of the organization or has presented on a subject relevant to the department's mandate. As per the Treasury Board Secretariat reporting requirements, expenditures to attend conferences where the primary purpose is to enable participants to maintain or acquire skills or knowledge are not reported as conference expenses but rather as training.

Total annual expenditures for travel, hospitality and conferences of the Transportation Safety Board are summarized below:

Expenditure category Expenditures for the year ending March 31 2014
(a)
(in thousands of dollars)
Expenditures for the year ending March 31 2013
(b)
(in thousands of dollars)
Variance
(a-b)
(in thousands of dollars)
Travel - Public Servants $1,043 $958 $85
Travel - Non-public servants $2 $3 $-1
Total Travel $1,045 $961 $84
Hospitality $7 $10 $-3
Conference Fees $8 $5 $3
TOTAL $1,060 $976 $84

Significant variances compared to the previous fiscal year

Travel

A. Public Servants: Travel expenditures increased by 9% compared to fiscal year 2012-2013, which can be attributed to the investigation of the Lac-Mégantic rail occurrence in July 2013. The complexity of the investigation required a large number of TSB employees to travel for extended periods of time over the course of the investigation. Travel costs for public servants for this investigation alone totaled $188K in 2013-14. Offsetting this increase in travel expenditures is a reduction in discretionary travel as part of the savings measures implemented by the TSB to meet the operating budget reductions announced in Budget 2012 and Budget 2013.

B. Non-Public Servants: Travel by non-public servants relates to expenditures incurred by consultants performing services for TSB, subject matter experts assisting with investigations, or individuals relocating to become new employees of TSB. Spending on this category of travel is minimal; as a result, a single event can present a significant percentage variance between years. Fiscal year 2013-14 showed only a small reduction of $1K when compared to 2012-13.

Hospitality

Spending on hospitality expenditures is minimal; as a result, a single event can present a significant percentage variance between years. In 2012-13 spending was slightly higher due to a 4-day branch meeting of all Marine Branch staff in Newfoundland, which included training and discussion of current operational issues. The meals during this event were recorded as hospitality rather than travel expenses. There were no similar branch meetings held in 2013-14.

Conferences Fees

Spending on conference fees is minimal. The increase in 2013-14 is explained by participation in the annual seminar of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators. The TSB had a larger than usual participation at this international conference because it was held in Vancouver, Canada and it provided a good opportunity for TSB investigators to meet and exchange with their counterparts from other countries.