Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
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ARCHIVED - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat - 2012–13 Departmental Performance Report

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Risk Analysis

The Secretariat actively monitors its operating environment in order to identify and manage risks that could affect progress toward its strategic outcome and organizational priorities. Key risks are captured in the Secretariat's corporate risk profile (CRP), which is updated at least once per year. Starting in 2012–13, the time horizon for the CRP shifted from one year to three years. This change brought a broader perspective to risk discussions and supports the Secretariat in managing longer-term, strategic initiatives.

As part of the 2012–15 CRP exercise, the Secretariat identified and developed risk responses for its corporate risks. In 2012–13, concrete actions were taken to manage these risks and, where the risk continues over a longer period of time, these steps form part of an ongoing strategy.

Risk Risk Response Strategy Link to Program Alignment Architecture Link to Organizational Priorities

Given the dynamic fiscal environment in which the Secretariat operates, the Secretariat was challenged to effectively enable the achievement of new and emerging fiscal objectives as departments and agencies worked to implement a number of ongoing restraint initiatives.

The Secretariat focused on building and maintaining its internal capacity and on effectively supporting departments and agencies to respond to the government’s fiscal objectives.

Expenditure Management

Priority 1: Support the government in ensuring value for money

The drive for greater efficiency created an opportunity to accelerate government modernization. At the same time, the increased complexity and pace of change presented challenges for the Secretariat in enabling the implementation of wide-scale standardization and consolidation of government systems and processes.

The Secretariat focused on ensuring that appropriate policies, frameworks, tools and guidance are in place to support the standardization and consolidation of government-wide systems.

Management Frameworks

Priority 2: Advance initiatives to modernize government operations

As government sought to strike the right balance between innovation, risk and control, adopting a simplified, risk-based approach to management oversight remained a key challenge for the Secretariat.

The Secretariat increased its focus on adopting and promoting risk-based approaches to management oversight, reducing unnecessary reporting requirements and promoting the shift toward greater accountability for deputy heads.

Management Frameworks

Priority 2: Advance initiatives to modernize government operations

During the period under review, the Secretariat continued to be at the centre of the government’s commitment to modernize and transform government. It provided leadership and guidance to support more cost-effective approaches government-wide, while simultaneously pursuing greater efficiency and effectiveness in its own operations.

The Secretariat also continued to support the government’s focus on reducing costs and ensuring value for money. In Economic Action Plan 2012, the government committed to achieving ongoing savings of $5.2 billion, with improvements to operational efficiencies accounting for 70 per cent of the savings. At the same time, departments and agencies were implementing decisions taken as part of the previous Strategic Review exercise.

In the context of this environment, the Secretariat effectively managed risks identified in its 2012–15 CRP by developing risk response strategies and successfully implementing a number of specific mitigation measures. The Secretariat, for example:

  • Supported departments, agencies and functional communities in addressing cost-reduction adjustments by:
    • Establishing appropriate communications strategies in support of government fiscal objectives;
    • Providing guidance on estimating workforce adjustment costs to organizations implementing Economic Action Plan 2012 deficit reduction measures, as well as directly supporting the regional development agencies in achieving deficit reduction targets by consolidating their internal audit functions at the Secretariat;
    • Collaborating with partners (such as the Canada School of the Public Service and the Public Service Commission) to provide deputy heads with integrated tools, guidance and discussion forums. This included data analysis on attrition and workforce adjustment and on trends in hiring to support placing affected employees and for continued recruitment; and
    • Temporarily modifying the rules for carrying forward unspent amounts to address the retroactive costs of collective bargaining settlements to be borne by departments during the operating budget freeze.
  • Engaged deputy heads and functional communities through a variety of initiatives to support the standardization and consolidation of government-wide systems, including:
    • Completing a model to enable standardization, transfer and exchange of data and information within and across departments. This model integrates performance, financial and human resources information to support evidence-based decisions and resource allocation;
    • Overseeing the completion of the Cyber Authentication Renewal Initiative, which resulted in the replacement of Secure Channel epass. This initiative modernizes the manner in which clients access government online services, while reducing annual operational costs by over $35 million; and
    • Supporting all levels of the financial management community through a number of initiatives, including the Chief Financial Officer Talent Management Initiative, to ensure that future financial management executive leaders are identified and possess the competencies necessary to fulfill upcoming opportunities.
  • Continued to review and propose adjustments to the Treasury Board policy suite in order to embed risk-based decision making across management functions and reduce administrative burden through such initiatives as:
    • Implementing a new quarterly electronic Inventory of Government of Canada Organizations that streamlines reporting requirements for federal organizations, resulting in increased efficiencies and more timely updates than the former annual report to Parliament;
    • Instituting policy changes to ensure adequate disclosure of significant departmental events, and their associated costs, to departmental ministers;
    • Developing and updating web-related policies in support of the Web Renewal initiative announced in Economic Action Plan 2013; and
    • Amending provisions of the official languages policy suite for deputy heads to delegate decisions on the non-imperative staffing of bilingual positions to reduce administrative burden on institutions.

Through these and a number of other measures, some of which are complete and some ongoing, the Secretariat successfully managed its risks during 2012–13. Moving forward, the Secretariat will continue to review and assess its corporate risks, and adapt and adjust its risk response strategies and mitigation measures, as required.