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Audits and Evaluations

Assurance Report: Processes to Promote and Make Documentary Heritage Available

Executive Summary


An assurance engagement of the processes to promote and make documentary heritage available was included in the Risk-Based Audit Plan following the June 2010 decision of the Departmental Audit Committee of Library and Archives Canada (LAC). The engagement work was conducted from December 2010 to October 2011. The objective was to assess the relevance and effectiveness of governance, risk management and internal controls to promote and make documentary heritage available to achieve departmental strategic priorities, including those related to the modernization of LAC and its commitment toward citizen-focused services. This assurance engagement provides a lower (moderate) level of assurance than an audit. The Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (TBS) Policy on Internal Audit was used as a reference document during the conduct of this engagement.

The Resource Discovery Sector (RDS), responsible for promoting and making documentary heritage available, was in the process of redefining its mandate and reviewing its organizational structure and operational processes during the course of this engagement. The report concludes on the measures in place during the testing period while giving consideration to initiatives currently underway.

Promoting and making documentary heritage available includes all services provided to clients as well as some activities to develop and establish collaborative arrangements. To increase accessibility and to respond to changing user needs and expectations, LAC is leading a major modernization exercise. Six of the twelve modernization innovation initiatives (MIIs) will have a major impact on the accessibility to the collection. The RDS is working on finding the best strategies to improve access and take advantage of new technological opportunities to meet user expectations.

Findings and Recommendations

The RDS needs to develop a comprehensive access strategy to ensure that its activities are in line with the modernization objectives and respect the intent of the Library and Archives of Canada Act ("LAC Act") in terms of accessibility to Canadians and to anyone with an interest in Canada. It should also reinforce its accountability framework through a more integrated planning process and an organizational structure reflecting the service strategy in development. The RDS currently provides services to a limited segment of the population and it needs to develop new instruments to identify the interests and the requirements of the Canadian population in its entirety. Client feedback which is captured and shared with senior management on a regular basis should also be fed into the planning exercise.

Risk Management
The risk that documentary heritage is not accessible to Canadians has been identified as a strategic risk in the Corporate Risk Profile. The RDS has assessed the risks involved with the MIIs under its responsibility in the MII charters. In addition, risks were identified when developing options for the Access Policy Framework, discussed at the Management Board, and are also considered under the Framework on Managing Partnering Activities. However, there is no systematic and consistent risk assessment approach to cover all the on-going activities of the sector. Therefore, there is no assurance that risks are assessed based on the same criteria and weighting factors nor that mitigating measures are developed commensurate with the level of risk.

Internal Controls
The RDS has implemented controls to assess client satisfaction with their current services. They have developed service standards, which are tracked and reported against on a regular basis. In addition, they conduct surveys with the different categories of service users, the results of which are presented to senior management. However, the data captured covers only the regular users of LAC services and the members of LAC’s network. The results from these good practices should serve as a basis for planning purposes and be reflected in the sector’s work plans and objectives. While the RDS has a number of indicators already in place, there is insufficient data available to support a formal evaluation. Therefore, performance measures in line with the RDS proposed access strategy and departmental modernization objectives are required.  One major internal control deficiency lies in the absence of formal policies and procedures to ensure constant and equitable treatment of the clientele. There is a need to implement policies and procedures to support the Access Policy Framework. Finally, the use of quality assurance mechanisms would provide additional control for the early identification of issues and problems likely to affect the achievement of the sector’s objectives.

Overall Conclusion

The audit work allows us to conclude that special attention is required to the governance structure, risk management and internal controls to implement relevant and effective processes to promote and make documentary heritage available. The new sector’s strategic direction, policies, organizational structure and monitoring mechanisms will better respond to the modernization objectives and will be more in line with the intent of the LAC Act.

Statement of Assurance

The Internal Auditing Standards for the Government of Canada were used as a reference document in the planning and conduct of this moderate assurance engagement.

In my professional judgment, as Chief Audit and Evaluation Executive, sufficient and appropriate procedures, for a moderate assurance engagement, have been conducted and evidence has been gathered to support the accuracy for this level of assurance conclusion provided and contained in this report. The conclusion is based on a comparison of the conditions, as they existed at the time, against pre-established moderate assurance engagement criteria.


Since the conduct phase of the assurance engagement, we understand that management has already initiated certain activities that will serve to address some observations mentioned in this report.

We wish to express our appreciation for the co-operation and assistance afforded to the internal audit team by management and staff during the course of this assurance engagement.

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