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Review of Governance: Service Delivery

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Executive Summary

The objective of this review was to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the governance arrangements in place to enable Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) commitment to citizen-focused service, with an emphasis on the attainment of the following objective:

Effectiveness of linkages and communication between the organization, users and other external stakeholders and the degree to which these linkages support and drive internal management priorities and plans.

The scope of this review was limited to the Services Advisory Board (SAB) and Services Committee (SC).

In the context of this scope, the goal of the review was to assess the following elements of governance:

  • Authority, responsibility and accountability
  • Information and communication
  • Performance management and oversight

Using documentation review and interviews with key stakeholders, the adequacy and effectiveness of these practices were assessed.

Our key findings are:

  • Accountability and responsibility are defined, although greater clarity is required on the scope and decision-making authority of the SAB and the SC;
  • Key guidelines and directives are not in place for the SAB, including directives on information management;
  • The tracking and follow-up of action items identified in SAB and SC meetings require more discipline to ensure commitments made are executed;
  • The SAB and the SC receive and provide information through formal channels, yet priorities and directives from Management Board are provided informally.
  • Reporting from the SAB and the SC to Management Board on directions and activities may not be sufficient to support managerial oversight, although informal communication between the ADM responsible and the two bodies provides some mitigating measures;
  • Insufficient directives on information management are provided to the members of the SAB and SC; and,
  • The assessment and performance management of the SC and the SAB are done informally, in the absence of defined metrics.

Recommendations

To build upon the achievements to date and to move towards a more mature governance structure in support of effective decision making, we recommend that:

  1. Terms of reference for the Services Advisory Board and the Services Committee should be reviewed and refined, in keeping with the broader attention and associated priorities related to the implementation of the Services Strategy.
  2. As part of the renewal of the terms of reference, management should specify, in greater detail, composition guidelines for the Services Advisory Board, to ensure that appropriate representation is achieved, in line with broader LAC objectives.
  3. A more detailed governance structure for both bodies should be defined and clearly communicated.  This structure should specify the role of the Services Committee and the Services Advisory Board in supporting Management Board and the means and channels by which bi-directional communication of information is effected.
  4. Expectations in terms of conduct and key directives with respect to information management should be explicitly communicated to the members of the Services Advisory Board and signed off, as part of their initiation / orientation and on a periodic basis thereafter.
  5. Tracking and management of action items for both the Services Advisory Board and the Services Committee should be improved.  The action items should be included in the minutes of the meetings.
  6. Information management and safeguarding guidelines should be established and shared with all SAB members in a manner that balances the need to consult with the requirements of information safeguarding.
  7. As part of the broader implementation of the Services Strategy, management should determine its consultative requirements.  These requirements should then be reviewed against the current roles, relevance and performance of the SAB and the SC to ensure both bodies are optimally positioned to meet the requirements of Management Board in relation to the Services Strategy.
  8. Subsequent to this analysis, management should establish and communicate performance measures and conduct periodic reviews for both the SAB and the SC.

Management Response

It must be noted that the modernization initiative was just underway when the Review of Governance of Service Delivery at LAC was assessed. The recommendations in the report will therefore be addressed within the context of LAC’s modernization initiative.  Under this initiative, governance mechanisms will be confirmed both to ensure internal horizontality, as well as to engage externally with stakeholders and users to explore new collaborative ways to deliver services.

  1. LAC management agrees to develop clear Terms of Reference (ToR) for governance committees that will be both aligned with the modernization initiative and will reflect LAC-wide governance structures.
  2. LAC management will present Management Board with compositional guidelines for the selection of members for any consultative bodies established under the modernization initiative, to ensure appropriate representation.
  3. LAC management will clearly define, map and communicate the governance structures and their linkages to Management Board, for all consultative committees established, to ensure client-focused service oversight at the institutional level.
  4. LAC management will provide orientation materials to members of consultative committees established under the modernization initiative and will explicitly communicate the conduct expectations.
  5. LAC management will ensure that formal Records of Decision with well-defined action items, person(s) responsible, due date(s) and follow-up mechanisms will be implemented for any governance body established under the modernization initiative.
  6. LAC management will ensure that all information provided to participants in the context of client consultation is approved by senior management to ensure that the information can be made public.
  7. LAC management will consult broadly across the institution regarding the consultative needs of the institution and how these needs would integrate with the work of internal committees focusing on modernization.
  8. LAC management agrees with the recommendation. Results and outcomes will be well defined and integrated into any process for client consultation.

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