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Report on the Review of Acquisition Processes for Collections

December 2010

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Findings and Recommendations

5. Roles and Responsibilities of Committees

5.1 Mandate of the Collection Development Committee (CDC) and the Major Acquisitions Committee (MAC)

The mandate of the CDC and MAC and the sharing of roles and responsibilities between them have been clearly defined: the CDC is responsible for the strategic development of the collection and participates in its implementation, whereas the MAC is responsible for making acquisition-related decisions and budget control.

The MAC's mandate contains a clear and detailed description of how the roles and responsibilities are shared among curators, archivists, specialists and committee members. However, it does not set out the decision-making criteria the committee uses to support its decisions. Consequently, it is not possible to determine whether the MAC's decisions take into account the key directions set out in the CDF.

The CDC's mandate does not contain a description of how roles and responsibilities are shared among the managers and professionals involved and the committee members.

A review of the CDC's minutes shows that this committee discusses issues relating to LAC's collection development strategies, including the modernization process and partnerships, both inside and outside of LAC. The minutes consulted mention strategies to be implemented or activities being developed to improve collection representativeness. A review of the MAC's minutes showed that this committee formally approves major acquisitions as set out in its mandate, yet it does not provide justification or selection criteria used in decision making.

Recommendation 5.1

LAC should ensure that the mandates for the CDC and MAC specify:

  • the sharing of roles and responsibilities by the managers and professionals involved and the CDC members;
  • the decision-making criteria the MAC must use to justify its decisions;
  • that decisions made by both committees must be well documented.

Management response

As part of the second Modernization Innovation Initiative, LAC will develop a governance model that clarifies the roles and responsibilities of participants in the process, decision-making criteria, and the approach for documenting and communicating decisions.

5.2 Risk Management

Risk is defined as the uncertainty surrounding future events and outcomes. It is the expression of the probability and impact of an event likely to influence the organization's ability to achieve its objectives.

In its Business Plan 2008–11, LAC developed an initial risk profile and listed the broad risk factors and uncertainties that could have an impact on planning and the operating environment. One major risk associated with achieving LAC's mandate and commitments is the lack of appropriate financial, human and technological resources, in the absence of reliable partnerships, to assure the preservation of digital and analogue documentary heritage.

The departmental risk profile informs managers and employees about risk and tolerance thresholds so that they understand the boundaries within which they are to manage risk.

Middle managers (and specialists) are responsible for:

  • integrating risk management into their decision-making;
  • ensuring ongoing operational and corporate action, planning, training, control, monitoring, and documentation of risk management;
  • ensuring that policy and related advice, guidance, and assistance are in line with central agency and departmental policies on risk management and with senior management's objectives;
  • identifying and assessing risk and the effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of existing measures to manage risk;
  • designing and implementing tools for more effective risk management.1

We expected to find that the branches and divisions responsible for collection development had frameworks in place to establish clear boundaries in terms of risk tolerance and mitigation measures for their acquisition areas, in order to ensure sound collection management based on LAC's acquisition priorities and strategies.

No risk management framework for acquisitions, accompanied by mitigation measures was brought to our attention, even though Directions for Change relies on a risk management framework to ensure effective stewardship of heritage at all phases of the information's life cycle. Risk management is not addressed in the strategic directions developed by the CASCB or in the strategic plans established by the sections under the CASCB. No risk management framework for acquisitions made by the PHB and PGCP was brought to our attention.

Consequently, no risk mitigation measures were formally identified for acquisitions and collection development. The absence of identified risks inherent to acquisitions prevents risk-based acquisition budget planning and compromises sound collection management based on acquisition priorities and strategies as defined in the management framework.

Recommendation 5.2

LAC should develop a risk management framework tailored to the acquisition process and to collection development, including mitigation measures.

Management response

As part of the second Modernization Innovation Initiative, LAC will develop an evaluation and acquisition management framework containing a risk management component.


1 Sources: Integrated Risk Management Framework, Treasury Board Secretariat, April 2001, and the 2003 April Report of the Auditor General of Canada, Chapter 1.

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