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Opportunities to improve the Treasury Board submission process fall into three areas:
The Secretariat should finalize the logic model for the Treasury Boad submission process to support performance measurement, clear communication of the process's ultimate outcome, and further study.
Since the ultimate outcome should not exist in isolation, the Secretariat should take the lead in refining, in consultation with federal organization representatives, its logic model for the submission process. Such a logic model would become the basis for:
The Secretariat should examine in detail, and address where necessary, survey results relating to advice its analysts provide to federal organizations during the submission process.
A majority of federal organization respondents agreed that the advice received from Secretariat analysts is timely and consistent. However, the number of respondents that did not agree is sufficient enough to warrant further work by the Secretariat to understand factors that may impede the timely and consistent delivery of advice.
The Secretariat should examine how human resources issues, especially the turnover rate among program analysts, affect the Treasury Board submission process and knowledge management.
Turnover among program analysts is likely to be an important factor underlying many of the issues noted in this evaluation. It is reasonable to assume, for example, that turnover would contribute to the reported levels of dissatisfaction among federal organizations with the services provided by program analysts.48
During the conduct of the evaluation, the Secretariat undertook work to further understand the factors contributing to turnover; a recommendation in this regard is therefore not made.
Notwithstanding steps that may be taken by the Secretariat to address turnover among program analysts, it is nevertheless reasonable to expect that turnover will persist for the foreseeable future. Therefore, other than simply seeking to reduce turnover, the Secretariat should explore ways to reduce its negative impact on the Treasury Board submission process. As noted below (Recommendation 6), implementing an effective system for knowledge and information management is an example of how the Secretariat could reduce the negative impact of turnover.
The Secretariat should account for the costs of managing the submission process-at least for the department if not for the entire public administration.
In the absence of complete and reliable cost information, the Secretariat cannot fully assess the extent to which its own resources are being properly and efficiently allocated to manage the submission process.
The Secretariat should review, and improve where necessary, its professional development, training, and outreach activities related to the Treasury Board submission process.
Program analysts' concerns about the capacity of federal organizations to produce high-quality submissions, along with the reported level of dissatisfaction from a minority of federal organizations with the advice received, point to a need for the Secretariat to review the professional development that it offers to its own staff and the training and outreach activities for the submission process that it extends to federal organizations.
In seeking to improve its professional development, training, and outreach activities, the Secretariat's course of action should be based on the first three recommendations noted above and the anticipated results that their implementation would bring. Finalization of a logic model for the Treasury Board submission process (Recommendation 1), together with a deeper understanding of federal organizations' dissatisfaction with the Secretariat's service (Recommendation 2), along with an awareness of how human resources issues affect the Treasury Board submission process (Recommendation 3) are likely to help the Secretariat understand how to improve the way it communicates with its own staff and with federal organizations regarding the submission process.
Given that the submission process has a conventional structure and that there are important similarities between certain submissions, implementation of an effective knowledge management system has the potential to yield significant improvements to the economy of the submission process. A systematic approach to knowledge management would create an archive of institutional memory related to Treasury Board submissions. This would allow Secretariat analysts to easily access and use the lessons learned and successful practices that resulted from the handling of previous submissions.
Creating an easily accessible bank of institutional memory related to the submission process would also help overcome some of the negative effects of the turnover rate among Secretariat analysts. A good knowledge and information management system would shorten the learning curve for new analysts and address some of the causes of federal organizations' complaints about "inconsistent" advice from the Secretariat.
Finally, a systematic approach to recording and retrieving information on the status of present and proposed submissions would facilitate the management of the submission process's workload, helping to smooth out the workload "crunches" that arise during peak submission periods.
The Secretariat should bear in mind two issues if it decides to explore options for a systematic approach to knowledge and information management.