ARCHIVED - Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat - Modern Management Practices Assessment -- Findings
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The government is undergoing rapid and significant change in the ways in
which it both goes about its business, and chooses to manage itself. It is
changing its culture and the way it manages resources. Modernized
comptrollership is key to that transformation. This has involved a shift in
emphasis from controls and compliance to results and values. Central to this
theme is a shift of primarily financial focus to a broader management
In 1997, an independent review panel was created to facilitate renewal and
change of the comptrollership function in government for the future. Based on
the criteria identified in the panel's report, a self directed assessment tool
was developed by KPMG Consulting L.P. to allow departments to assess their
current practices against the recommendations and findings of the panel.
Modern comptrollership means sound management practices. Traditionally,
comptrollership in government has focused on financial controls and accounting
functions such as processing transactions, reporting totals and keeping track of
funds. It has been regarded largely as the preserve of functional specialists.
Modern comptrollership changes the emphasis from controls and compliance to
results and values. It represents a shift from a centralized financial focus to
a broader management perspective and thus becomes an integral part of each
manager's responsibilities. It is about vigorous management of public resources
with emphasis placed on performance and not just on following the rules. It is
also about linking financial information (budgets, expenditures, revenues,
assets, etc..) with non-financial information (planned results, performance,
outputs, etc..). It focuses on effective decision making with sound management
of resources, ranging from human, financial, capital and technological.
The Treasury Board Secretariat is one of twelve pilot departments leading the
implementation strategy of Modern Comptrollership. Each of the twelve pilot
departments undertook a self assessment of their practices in relation to the
recommendations in the panel report using the Capacity Check Tool. This report
reflects the results of interviewing forty managers within TBS.
- The KPMG Capacity Tool is a self assessment tool. For the purposes of the
pilot departments, it was a "directed self assessment" in that a
team of three consultants carried out interviews with managers. An interview
guide was used to obtain manager's perceptions on each of the six elements.
- The interviewees were selected on the basis of balanced coverage for the
Secretariat. This included managers at various levels in each of the
branches/sectors along with some functional specialists.
- The review looked at process only and not the quality or product of the
- The Capacity Check Tool provides a rating system of "1" through
"5". A higher rating does not necessarily mean
"goodness", but rather, formality or maturity of capability. The
ideal rating for any area is dependent on the needs and goals of the
organization. The results of the review should be construed as a
"baseline" against the criteria and not a "report card".
- The findings have been worded as neutrally as possible. Since the capacity
check was not an audit we did not assess whether a finding was
"good" or "bad". For example, a finding such as
"There is no formal ethics framework" is neither a criticism nor a
compliment but merely a finding.
- Interviewees were assured confidentiality in the interviews.
- The findings are at the Secretariat level and not at the branch or sector
level. No branch/sector to branch/sector comparisons were carried out.
Summary of Management Capacity Self
Below is a summary of the findings for each of the elements. The findings are
described in detail in the Results section later in the report.
- TBS has, for the most part, management practices in line with the
modernization of comptrollership initiative for government.
- The commitment by senior management is strong, and there are many
initiatives underway. Future focus should be to ensure that the culture
permeates the organization.
- The level of service in functional support could be enhanced and many
managers associated this with the impacts on resources in these areas
through Program Review. Specialist support is seen as more process based and
less so as a strategic business partner by managers throughout the
- Progress has been made in business planning and the process continues to
- No formal risk management framework is in place.
- There is only limited definition of competencies required of managers in
modern management practices.
- Management training is available but workload inhibits access.
- Ethics have not been clearly articulated and can therefore not be
monitored on an ongoing basis.
- Limited capability to reallocate resources across branches or sectors.
- Evaluation frameworks have not yet been developed in some program areas.
- Limited formal costing systems in place but managers indicated that cost
information is adequate for their needs.
- Managers are proud to work at TBS and there are strong values stated but
managers also indicated actions or results do not always reflect intentions.
- Assess state of comptrollership practices within each department
against a common standard. Assess current management practices against
recognized best practices and principles as outlined in the Report of the
Independent Review Panel.
- Bring together all the elements of the management framework. The
capacity check is intended to integrate the full range of capabilities
necessary to implement modern comptrollership, including leadership,
business planning, risk management, performance management, control systems,
and accountability management.
- Compare against best practices. The capacity check is based on best
practices of other leading organizations, and therefore provides an
opportunity for organizations to assess where they stand relative to these
- Provide assurance to external clients/stakeholders of the soundness of
comptrollership within the Secretariat. The capacity check should help
to clarify for external clients and stakeholders (e.g..., central agencies,
Parliamentarians) the management approach that is currently in place, and to
provide some assurance that the overall management framework is in sound
- Future oriented--focuses on what capabilities must be in place in the
future to respond to emerging client demands/changing environment.
- Focuses on expanding/improving capability rather than downsizing.
- Recognizes that an organization can only focus on selected improvement
areas at any one time, and cannot be "best" at everything.
- Intended as a diagnostic tool for senior management of the organization.
- Departmental focus--not intended to compare management practices between
- Directed self-assessment tool--not a review or audit. Information is
collected through interviews, and then validated by the managers
- Builds upon changes already underway to existing management processes.
Modern Management Practices
- Strategic Leadership
- Motivated People
- Shared Values and Ethics
- Integrated Performance Information
- Mature Risk Management
- Rigorous Stewardship
- Clear Accountability
- Leadership commitment
Commitment of deputy head & senior management to
establishing modern management practices environment
- Senior Financial Officer's role
Extent to which SFO's office is used for objective commentary
and independent advice
- Managerial commitment
Awareness of managers of their modern management practices
responsibilities, and commitment to implementing these
- Linkage to strategic planning
Linkage of business planning and resource allocation to the
strategic planning process
- Motivated People
- Modern management practices competencies
Extent to which modern management practices competencies are
defined and managers have access to training
- Employee satisfaction measurement and monitoring system
Mechanisms in place to monitor employee morale and staff
- Valuing peoples' contribution
Extent to which corporate culture fosters staff participation,
team building, sharing of ideas, risk taking, innovation, and
- Specialist support
Availability of top-flight counsel to help managers make
judgment calls on modern management practices issues
Shared Values & Ethics
- Ethics and values framework
Existence of policies and activities that visibly support the ethical
stewardship of public resources and give priority to "modern
|Integrated Performance Information
- Business planning
Business and operational planning systems and processes.
- Resource allocation
Mechanisms for ranking program options, identifying resources
required, and allotting limited funds
- Budgeting and forecasting
Systems, procedures and processes for identifying funding
requirements and allocating resources
- Corporate performance information
Extent to which key measures exist to monitor overall
- Operating information
Measures and systems to monitor service quality and efficiency
of program delivery
- Client satisfaction measurement and monitoring systems
Utilization of client survey information on satisfaction
levels, and importance of services
- Evaluative information
Utilization of non-financial information related to program
effectiveness and outcomes
- Service standards
Monitoring against client service standards and maintaining
and updating standards
- Financial information
Extent to which financial information is available in a timely
and useful fashion
- Cost management information
Mechanisms for capturing activity/product costs
Mature Risk Management
- Risk management framework
Processes and systems for identifying and assessing risk, and
determining acceptable level of risk
- Authority levels
Appropriateness of manager's authorities and resource controls
to fulfill accountabilities
- Business process improvement
Extent to which processes are clearly understood, are
conducted in a uniform fashion, and are continuously improved in line
with best practices
- Tools & techniques
Range of analytical techniques (e.g., cost-benefit,
sensitivity, life cycle, benchmarking) available
- Transaction tracking systems
Assessment of systems used for tracking financial transactions
and operating results
- Knowledge enabling technology
Performance information is readily accessible to internal and
external users via technology
- Consistency of information
Extent to which financial and operating information is
collected and reported consistently across units
- Internal controls
Systems and processes to protect against fraud, financial
negligence, violation of rules and principles and loss of assets
- Accounting practices
Extent to which records of financial transactions are kept on
consistent and useful basis for purposes of audit and reporting, and
consistency with generally accepted accounting practices
- Internal audit and review
Process for ensuring adequate attention to results and
recommendations of internal review, audit, and program evaluation
- External audit and review
Process for ensuring adequate attention to results and
recommendations of external audits and reviews of department
- Clarity of senior management responsibilities and organization
Clarity of assignment of modern management practices
responsibilities throughout the organization
- Performance agreements and evaluation
Extent to which the achievement of financial and operating
results is embedded in agreements
Existence of incentives for good modern management practices
- External reporting
Extent to which Parliamentary & central agency information
reporting requirements are met
- The objective of this project was to carry out a comprehensive assessment
of management practices in the Treasury Board Secretariat in relation to the
recommendations made in the Report of the Independent Review Panel on
Modernization of Comptrollership in the Government of Canada. The team was
to gather and analyze data to allow management to identify existing
strengths and weaknesses in this regard.
- The assessment was to build upon existing processes and practices and
assist in the identification of those areas where capability improvements
are required in the Secretariat.
- The KPMG project team was to work with TBS staff to ensure a knowledge
transfer of both the use of the Capacity Check tool and process required so
that the Secretariat would be in a position to carry out future assessments
using the KPMG Capacity Check tool.
- The assessment covered all organizational units in TBS and involved
different levels of managers and functional staff.
- Current capabilities are assessed based on key elements of Comptrollership
and criteria provided for each key element.
- The capabilities depicted within each criteria represent different states
or plateaus that the organization may strive to achieve. The descriptions
- The capability descriptions are based on generally recognized best
practices, but have been customized to reflect the Independent Review Panel
report and TBS assessment framework.
- A rating system of "1" to "5" is used. A high rating
does not necessarily mean "goodness", but rather, formality or
maturity of capability. The ideal rating for any area is dependent on the
needs and goals of the organization.
TOPIC: Corporate Performance Information (TBS meets the criteria
for level 2
|No corporate performance measures
||Each Sector measures
performance at corporate level. Organization-wide priority areas to be
measured have been identified.
||High level strategic measures are in place, and
are linked to key strategic vision and priorities. Results to be measured
under corporate measures have been identified, and are linked to measures
||Performance results exist for
the organization as a whole. Results are interpreted using a balanced
scorecard philosophy. Results are monitored over time. Corporate measures
are refined on an ongoing basis.
||Results of corporate measures are monitored
over time. Strategic and business plans are modified accordingly. Results
of corporate measures are used to make trade offs in priorities.
Information is readily accessible through executive information systems.
||Where the organization may strive to be in the future
The following steps were carried out in this review:
- A briefing was made by Secretariat staff to the KPMG consultants on the
business and organizational structure of the Secretariat. Key documents to
assist the team were identified and provided.
- The consultants and Secretariat team members identified the appropriate
managers and functional staff to participate in the interviews. The protocol
and process for carrying out the interviews was established. This included a
communications strategy in order to prepare the interviewees.
- An interview guide was developed and tailored to suit Secretariat
- Interviews were carried out with 39 managers. Approximately half-way
through the interview process, an interim analysis was carried out to ensure
coverage and identify gaps in the information required. Adjustments to the
interview process were made accordingly. TBS team members sat as observers
on many of the interviews during the process.
- A project team workshop was conducted to consolidate all of the
information received from these interviews and documentation. An analysis
against the criteria in the diagnostic tool was made arriving at a tentative
Secretariat rating for each element of each function. TBS team members
participated in this workshop as an integral part of the knowledge transfer
- Three separate focus groups of approximately six to ten managers or
functional specialists in each were carried out. The first focus group
consisted of members of the TBS working group, the second was drawn from
those participating in the original interviews and the third was made up of
managers that had not previously participated in the process. The purpose
was to validate the assessment ratings and to obtain a better appreciation
of the level of consensus regarding the ratings. Several changes were made
to the findings and ratings as a result of these validation sessions.
- A draft report was prepared, reviewed by Secretariat team members and the
report amended accordingly.