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Criteria: Management implements control measures to identify issues that could hinder the achievement of objectives.
Finding: Management has implemented a number of control measures for current services. However, the lack of policies and complete performance measures hinder their ability to deliver services consistently and assess the achievement of objectives.
Our assessment of internal controls looked at the following elements: service standards well defined and monitored, policies and procedures in place, systems in place to collect accurate and complete information so that issues are identified and addressed in a timely manner, and finally, performance measures serve to regularly report on program results.
Service standards for fee-based services are well defined and posted on LAC’s website. The RDS prepares a Quarterly Performance Report to monitor a series of targets gauging the level of client satisfaction with services, reporting both positive and negative client comments. The report also provides statistical information on the number of documents delivered, the number of visits and inquiries received as well as the number of formal and informal ATIP requests received and completed, which is compared with the data from the two previous fiscal years. However, the Quarterly Performance Report does not report on compliance with established turnaround times for client queries. Response time satisfaction is assessed via client surveys.
Tests conducted on the Query Management System, the Collection Management System, the Client Information Management System and the Interlibrary Loan System concluded that adequate controls were in place during the testing period to provide reliable and timely information. However, the efficiency and effectiveness of the systems could be improved by initiating the capture of more information on collection use and automatically transferring common information between systems to eliminate duplication of effort. For instance, the information on stakeholders is kept on multiple electronic systems and there is no centralized comprehensive register of all LAC stakeholders. In addition, the information in the managerial reports referred to above is not automatically compiled, thus increasing the risk of transcription errors.
A main internal control deficiency lies in the absence of formal policies to ensure a consistent approach to promote and make documentary heritage available. During the time of this assurance engagement, a review of policies across LAC found that management could not identify what policies were in force and who was responsible for these policies. It was also noted that LAC does not have a formal process for developing and implementing policies. The main policies and procedures to support the RDS activities are being reviewed in the context of the modernization initiatives. It will be important to ensure that they support the implementation of the new strategic direction.
An effective governance regime also requires a clear definition of outputs and outcomes and a regular assessment of performance against expectations. Performance indicators for the RDS were found in a number of documents including the Report on Plans and Priorities, the Departmental Performance Report, the Quarterly Corporate Dashboard, the Performance Measurement Framework and the Results-Based Management Accountability Framework.
The Report on the State of Performance Measurement at LAC for 2010-2011 concluded that there is insufficient data available to support a formal evaluation in the RDS. LAC has recently taken an intermediary action to develop six key output indicators to monitor progress on modernization related activities. The more relevant indicators for the RDS are #4: Amount of material digitized by LAC and partners, #5 Use of LAC holdings and #6 Amount of material opened for client access. The amount of information available varies across these indicators with #5 being the most advanced and #6 the least advanced. Efforts are currently underway to define methodologies and strengthen data-collection processes.
Finally, as previously mentioned, because of the lack of rigour in the planning process, operational objectives were not always clearly defined for this period, limiting the ability to monitor their achievement.
The use of quality assurance mechanisms for monitoring services standards, performance measures and the consistent application of policies, guidelines and procedures would help ensure that internal controls work effectively to mitigate identified risks and that significant issues are identified and corrected in a timely manner to meet objectives.
The Resource Discovery Sector should develop internal controls commensurate with identified strategic and operational risks and monitor results. Priority should be given to the development and implementation of policies and procedures.
Agreed. LAC is developing a Framework for Policy Management, and policies addressing access.
Since the Access Policy Framework was approved by Management Board on August 29, 2011, policy decisions have been made and a policy instrument is in draft stage for Making Collections Available (concerning the strategic approach to legal and donor restrictions on access).
In accordance with the TBS approach to policy instruments, all new LAC policy instruments contain sections for clear statements of roles, responsibilities, monitoring and reporting. Consultation with all LAC sectors is the responsibility of the Policy Coordination Working Group. LAC is developing a Framework for Policy Management that will include a corporate and integrated approach to monitoring and reporting on the implementation of policy decisions and the application of policy instruments.
Policy issues are currently being identified for accessibility of current and future collections, including copyright, official languages, people with disabilities, and user fees. All of these options are being developed with a commensurate consideration of risk.
The Resource Discovery Sector should integrate the use of quality assurance mechanisms within its sector to monitor the application of policies and standards and ensure early detection of significant issues.
Agreed. LAC needs to identify current quality assurance mechanisms and any gaps in monitoring the application of policies and standards.