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BC Sessional Papers

Twenty-third Annual Report of the PURCHASING COMMISSION JANUARY 1 TO DECEMBER 31 1965 British Columbia. Legislative Assembly [1966]

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Twenty-third Annual Report of the
Printed by A. Sutton, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
in right of the Province of British Columbia.
  Victoria, B.C., January 25, 1966.
To Major-General the Honourable George Randolph Pearkes,
V.C., P.C., C.B., D.S.O., M.C.,
Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of British Columbia.
May it please Your Honour:
Herewith I beg respectfully to submit the Annual Report of the Purchasing
Commission of the Department of Finance for the period January 1, 1965, to
December 31, 1965.
Minister of Finance.
 The Honourable W. A.C. Bennett,
Minister of Finance, Victoria, B.C.
Sir,—We have the honour to submit the Twenty-third Annual Report of
the Purchasing Commission, covering the period January 1, 1965, to December
31, 1965.
R. G. McKEE,
 Twenty-third Annual Report of the
Purchasing Commission
January 1 to December 31, 1965
In spite of the fact that the present Chairman did not take over his full-time
duties until July 1, 1965, business as usual was carried out by a loyal and conscientious staff both in the Victoria and Vancouver offices. In fact, the Comptroller-
General's records show that during the calendar year the disbursements against
purchase orders were up 7.7 per cent for quotations emanating from the Purchasing
The total purchases under the Act also include purchase orders made by the
divisions of those departments with authority to purchase delegated under section
10 of the Act, hence the total purchases for 1965 are as follows:—
Number of Total Value
Department Purchase Orders of Purchases
Education—Textbook Branch  1,900 $2,800,000
Provincial Secretary—
Public Library and Archives  786 10,000
Public Library Commission  166 37,100
Queen's Printer  4,248 1,393,900
Finance—Purchasing Commission—
(a)  For the Ferry Authority  2,365 4,120,000
(Z>) For all departments  52,259 37,750,000
Grand total      $46,110,000
In 1958 there were five buyers doing a $23,183,000 business in purchasing
through the Victoria and Vancouver offices of this Commission, or an average of
$4,600,000 per man. Annually the business of Government increased until in the
calendar year 1965 the same five buyers averaged $7,770,000 per man, which is an
increase of 70 per cent per man. Although inflation accounts for some of the
increase, the pressure on the staff was so great that an excessive amount of overtime
was involved. Thus an additional buyer was added to the staff on June 1, 1965.
In the calendar year 1965 these six buyers did a total business of $41,870,000, or
an average of $6,977,500 per man, which is still a great deal more per man than
the average for civic or commercial buyers; for example, the City of Vancouver with
a staff of six buyers has a total purchase business of $4,800,000.
In an attempt to decrease the work load, we are continuing to explore the possibilities of more bulk buying. To this end, the Chairman and buyer concerned, with
such items as paints, waxes, and paper products, met, at the invitation of the Deputy
Minister of Public Works, who is also a member of the Commission, with the senior
members of his staff, including maintenance superintendents of the institutions and
districts, at the Technical Institute, Burnaby, to discuss and implement more contract (quarterly) buying and inventory systems.
 X 6
In addition to an increase in the buying staff, it was necessary to add one additional clerk to the office staff to take care of the extra work load.
Again, in the general office we are exploring ways and means of eliminating
unnecessary paper work in order to improve efficiency. As an example, on October
26, 1965, all Deputy Ministers were advised that the maximum amount of minor
purchases not requiring a requisition or emergency purchase order was, with the
approval of the Government, raised from $10 to $25. It is estimated that this alone
will save 11,000 emergency purchase orders, in quintuplicate, and at least $30,000
in processing them. The value of the orders concerned is less than one-half of 1 per
cent of the total purchases made during the year.
Similarly, the implementation of more bulk buying, as referred to above, and
the creation of central stores-distributing centres, such as at Essondale, have also
eliminated a great deal of paper work.
The Division was set up in 1943 because of the excessive cost of maintaining
the large number of Government-owned typewriters, etc., and the inadequacy of the
service obtainable in outlying areas of the Province.
In 1943 the machines inspected and maintained by the Division were 1,032.
As of June 28, 1965, this had grown to 7,118 machines, as follows:—
Type of Machine
Number in
Number in
and Technical Schools
Typewriters (9 per cent electric)  	
Adding-machines and printing-calculators„   _
Dictating and transcribing machines— _ 	
Miscellaneous posting, bookkeeping, cash registers, etc...
Totals    —    .
To service all this equipment, the staff consists of one Supervisor, two Foremen
(Mechanic—Grade 2), eight Mechanics—Grade 1, and four trainees who are apprentices for three years.
Because of the multiplicity of makes and types of Government business machines, it takes a three-year apprentice-training and from 5 to 10 years before the
recruit is fully equipped to act without detailed supervision. In other words, it is
only by in-service training that this Division can acquire the kind of mechanics for
the varied work involved, and the major problem is keeping well-trained staff ahead
of the work load.
The largest increase in work load is for the vocational training schools, of which
the present five average 92 machines per school. In due course, when the additional
planned schools are built and in operation, an additional fully qualified mechanic
will be required.
In due course, with the growing number of machines in each region, it is the
intention of the Commisson to recommend that in addition to the service depots
now established in Victoria and Vancouver that other shops be established in Prince
George or Kamloops, as the need dictates.
X 7
On November 10, 1965, all Deputy Ministers were advised as follows:—
" Section 19 of the Purchasing Commission Act is as follows: ' The Commission may direct that such records as it deems advisable ... be maintained in Government departments . . . so as to ensure the effective control and preservation of
furniture and equipment (unexpendable)  . . . belonging to the Government.' "
" Over the years most Government departments have, for their own protection,
set up a ledger or card system for keeping track of unexpendable equipment and
it is not the purpose of this circular to disturb these workable systems.
" However, for years this Commission has, in our opinion, been doing a lot
of unnecessary work in connection with office furniture the cost of which is all out
of proportion to the value derived.
" I refer, of course, to the issuing of Form P.C. Invent. 14 in triplicate and a
corresponding numbered decal for each piece of furniture purchased which for the
past 12 years have averaged over 3,000 items per year.
"As of December 31st, 1965, this practice will cease (except for Government
House), which means that any furniture Purchase Order issued after that date will
not be further broken down by this office into the requisite number of Forms P.C.
Invent. 14, nor will any further decals be issued. However, any department requiring decals may secure them for their own purposes as long as our supply lasts.
"As far as expenditures for office furniture are concerned, control of the funds
available is now the responsibility of each department and in future so will the record
keeping of these unexpendable items."
To ensure that such records are being kept properly, the Supervisor of the
Business Machines Section has been charged with the task of checking departmental
records of business machines and furniture on his annual maintenance trips.
The discarding of the inventory work by this Commission will release one
senior clerk and one clerk-stenographer, six months of the year, for more important tasks, such as working with the buyers and the Materials Testing Branch
of the Department of Highways and other testing agencies toward the preparation
of better specifications for the invitations to quote.
Under section 20 of the Purchasing Commission Act, it is the responsibility of
the Commission to sell all unserviceable equipment, surplus supplies, and all
tangible property declared surplus in writing by the department concerned. The
bulk of the work done by the Disposal Section is for the Highways Department, as
shown in the following breakdown:—
For Highways Department—
(a) Equipment and scrap     $35,090
(b) Houses and chattels (rights-of-way)        88,620
For other departments       31,790
Total value
Under authority of section 5 of the Act, the Purchasing Commission maintains
a warehouse at 2914 Jacklin Road, where supplies for Government departments
are stored and distributed.
This warehouse serves the following main functions:—
(a) Storing of items considered likely to be scarce or higher in price due to
seasonal or unusual circumstances. In practice this can be illustrated by
the fact that 562 sets of car and truck chains and 3,300 feet of cross
chains were available for distribution in the winter of 1964/65 when
chains were in very short supply throughout the Province.
(b) The storing of supplies required on an emergency basis, such as forest
fire-fighting equipment, which in a severe fire season may see a turnover
two or three times of $60,000 or $70,000 in value of equipment.
(c) Serving as a collection, storage, and exchange agency for surplus Government equipment throughout the Province; for example, because of
a change in fire-fighting techniques the fire-line shovel is now a long-
handled junior shovel, hence several hundred large shovels were shipped
to Langford Warehouse from Forest Service warehouses in exchange for
equivalent value in the smaller shovels. The larger shovels were reissued
for construction projects. Similarly, the power-saw has replaced the old-
fashioned cross-cut saws everywhere except in the forestry prison camps,
hence exchanges were effected through the facilities of the Langford
(d) By purchasing supplies in advance of a rush need for them means providing a chance to shop for the best value for the money and ensures against
an overload of inadequate equipment; for instance, the 25-man mess kits
that used to cost $350 are now stocked at Langford for $135.
(e) Wherever practical all equipment and tools handled through the warehouse are standardized, and time is allowed the supplier to brand them
with the words " Province of B.C." or " B.C. Govt." This applies to all
blankets, tents, water bags, axes, shovels, knives, forks, spoons, fire-
extinguishers, etc. This branding, which is done with permanent dyes
or stamped in metal, has proved an excellent deterrent against theft.
An up-to-date catalogue is prepared annually and issued to all departments
showing supplies in stock, prices, unit weights, etc.
In 1965 the total value of goods disbursed to various departments from Langford Warehouse was $371,893.10 (18.2 per cent over last year), and because of
a small efficient staff and a 10-per-cent mark-up, this warehouse is self-sustaining.
A major factor which makes this service possible is a very low freight rate
available from a local trucking firm of 90 cents per 100 pounds from Langford to
downtown Vancouver.
Because of the large number of Government institutions located in the Greater
Vancouver area and supplies of all kinds are required for the inmates and staff, including most of the 22,000 people for whom food is purchased, the Commission
maintains a Vancouver office at 501 West 12th Avenue, and has done since its
inception in 1943. The total Vancouver staff in 1943 was one buyer, whereas there
are now three buyers and a clerical staff of five under the supervision of Mr. T. L.
Vardy, a Purchasing Agent—Grade 4.
Requisitions for supplies are forwarded by the institutions direct to the Vancouver office, and they are processed there up to the point of awarding the purchase
order. The purchase orders are typed by the Victoria office. In order to centralize
record-keeping and accounting procedures, all the records for these transactions
are ultimately filed in the Victoria office of the Commission.
Like the over-all business of the Commission, the work of the Vancouver office
has increased in proportion to the growth of the institutions. Thus, when the additional buyer was approved this year, Buyer Jack Rossiter was transferred back to
Victoria, bringing many of his former commodities with him. This was possible
because of bulk buying and more rigid Purchasing Commission specifications on
such items as paints, waxes, laundry supplies, etc. Hence the junior buyer was
placed in Vancouver and the Victoria extra load shared among the four buyers
Section 41 of the British Columbia Ferry Authority Act is as follows: " The
Authority is subject to the provisions of the Purchasing Commission Act." This is
the legal reason why the Purchasing Commission is involved with purchases for the
Ferry Authority.
It was soon established that an on-the-spot purchasing agent was needed for
emergency repairs, and the present incumbent, Mr. W. D. Blincow, has his headquarters at the ferry depot at 1280 Rice Mill Road, Richmond, B.C. This man,
paid by the Ferry Authority, is under dual supervision—namely, the Ferry Authority for hours of work, discipline, and details of daily work, and the Purchasing
Commission for technical guidance in purchasing procedures.
At the same depot is maintained an excellent warehouse carrying up to
$400,000 in stock parts.
Annual purchases for food ($1,000,000 annually), uniforms, etc., are funnelled through the Vancouver office, while purchases of other commodities, such as
oil and fuel, are done through the appropriate buyer in Victoria.
Copies of Ferry Authority requisitions for supplies and copies of their purchase
orders are maintained in the Victoria office of the Commission for ready reference.
As a further effort toward more efficiency, the Chairman and staff are busy
producing a Purchasing Manual. Sixty pages are now complete, and the balance
will be ready for printing by April 1, 1966. So far the following chapters have been
completed: Chapter 1—Requisitions; Chapter 2—Purchase Orders; Chapter 3—
Departures from Normal Purchasing Procedures; Chapter 4—Langford Warehouse;
Chapter 5—The Vancouver Office; Chapter 6—The British Columbia Ferry Authority; Chapter 7—Business Machines Service Division. It is anticipated that
when this Manual is finally printed and distributed to all departments of Government, there should be less confusion and waste motion, which is now in evidence.
We have already proved that it increases efficiency when the buyers make
periodic field trips to visit those in the departments concerned with requisitioning
supplies, such as mechanical supervisors or vocational-school principals, to discuss
mutual problems of ordering supplies and how to specify the right piece of equipment
for the use intended. This Manual and future editions of it should be of value to
all concerned for reference purposes in training new staff on purchasing procedures.
The Commission gratefully acknowledges the co-operative work done by the
Materials Testing Branch of the Department of Highways, and for the specialized
purchasing done under delegated authority by the Queen's Printer, the Director of
the Textbook Branch, the Provincial Librarian and Archivist, and the Superintendent of the Public Library Commission.
 X 10
In conclusion, this Commission would stress that investigation of bulk buying
will continue, as will careful examination of specifications, with a view to their
continued improvement. It is further pointed out that since research work is
time-consuming and is superimposed on the heavy work load of everyday buying
by a small staff, it can only be done as time permits and therefore will proceed slowly
but surely.
Printed by A. Sutton, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majestj
in right of the Province of British Columbia.


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