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The Audit of the Deaccessioning of Private Collections was not originally part of the Audit Plan for 2010-2011. However, discussions held at the LAC Departmental Audit Committee meeting of December 15, 2010 led to a recommendation by the Deputy Head and Librarian and Archivist of Canada for undertaking this audit. The audit was added to the 2011-2014 Risk-Based Audit Plan.
Library and Archives Canada was created as a single entity in 2004, by the Library and Archives of Canada Act with a mandate to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations. The Report on Plans and Priorities defines LAC's three main responsibilities as the following:
Articles 8 and 9 of the Act describe the legislative mandate and powers of the Librarian and Archivist and his or her rights pertaining to the acquisition and the disposal of private and public archived materials.
Archived material is acquired through three main processes: Legal Deposit, within existing regulations, which require that published material be provided to LAC; the transfer of Government of Canada documents of enduring value; and the acquisition of private collections through donation or purchase. The deaccessioning of private collections is the subject of this audit. In the LAC Corporate Control Manual, which is part of the Rules for Archival Description (RAD) produced in 2006, deaccessioning is described as the transfer of records from the legal and physical custody of Library and Archives Canada. The disposal can take three forms: destruction of the collection, return to the donor, or transfer to another memory institution. The manner of disposal must respect the terms and conditions agreed to with the donor during the acquisition and negotiation phase. The Annual Report on the Disposition of Records reported 82 deaccessioning transactions processed in 2009-2010.
Currently, the function of deaccessioning is shared between two organizational units: the Society and Cultural Expression Branch (SCEB), under Acquisition, is responsible for decisions of deaccessioning private collections and the Analogue Preservation Branch, under Collections Management, executes the decisions.
A collection may be one single item or it may be comprised of several items of varying types and values. A collection is identified as such because it comes from one single source or creator. Based on a list of collections registered in the MIKAN Collection Management System, there are currently 14,521 private collections at LAC, 2,330 of which are single and discrete items. In 2009-2010 there were 381 private collections received at LAC and registered in the MIKAN system. During the same period, 175 private collections were formally acquired. The great majority of private collections is held in three main LAC facilities, each providing approximately 17,000 square metres of space: the LAC Preservation Centre, the Renfrew Archives Centre, and 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa.
To remain relevant in a rapidly changing information environment, LAC is rethinking the way it does business. As a response to this challenge, LAC has embarked on a modernization exercise to develop a policy-driven and evidence-based global strategy. Twelve Modernization Innovation Initiatives (MII) will guide this exercise. Two of these initiatives will have a major impact on the acquisition and deaccessioning processes; they are MII 2, Whole of Society Model to Appraise and Acquire Documentary Heritage, and MII 4, Review the Relevance of LAC Holdings. The audit took place in this changing environment. It concludes on the measures in place during the testing period covered by the audit while ensuring that credit and consideration is given to recent and upcoming initiatives.
The objective of this audit was to determine if the governance process and internal control procedures for deaccessioning private collections are adequate and effective, and comply with the terms and conditions agreed to upon acquisition.
The audit criteria are based on the Core Management Controls and the risk assessment conducted during the planning phase of the audit. They are the following:
The audit field work was carried out from January to August 2011. The audit focused on the deaccessioning of private collection archived material that took place from November 1, 2009 to November 30, 2010. The audit encompassed the procedures to initiate, approve, and execute deaccessioning decisions and a high-level review of acquisition and preservation practices as they relate to deaccessioning.
The audit field work was conducted in accordance with the Policy on Internal Audit from the Office of the Comptroller General and the Treasury Board Policy and Guidelines, which stipulate that the Institute of Internal Auditors' standards apply to the Public Service sector. These standards require that the audit be planned and performed in such a way as to obtain reasonable assurance that the audit objective is achieved.
The audit included various audit procedures as considered necessary to provide such assurance. These included but were not limited to the following: