1.1 Management Practices Initiative
The Audit and Evaluation Sector (AES) conducted twenty (20) Management Practices Reviews (MPRs) between 2007 and 2010 as part of a Department-wide initiative to assess the relative strength of regional and sector management practices. Following the completion of that first round of MPRs, the Deputy Minister and the Department’s Audit Committee recommended that a summary report be prepared to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the MPR process and to make a recommendation on whether the Management Practices Initiative should be continued. As a result of the analysis, a second round of management practices engagements, using a revised approach, was approved.
Under the revised approach, which was designed to provide departmental management with an audit level of assurance, management practices engagements were to be conducted in two phases: a Control Self-Assessment (CSA) workshop and a limited-scope audit. Based on the feedback received from the CSA as well as the results of previous audits and reviews, and a review of departmental priorities, a limited number of management practices were to be selected for inclusion in an audit.
To date, AES has completed Management Practices Audits (MPA) of all ten regions and one sector. An additional three MPAs, including the Management Practices Audit of Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships, were identified in AANDC’s 2012-13 to 2014-15 Risk-Based Audit Plan, approved by the Deputy Minister on February 22, 2012.
In November 2012, AES initiated the MPA of the ESDPP. The decision to complete a MPA of ESDPP was based on the results of an Audit and Assurance Services Branch prioritization exercise that considered the impact and significance of previous engagement findings, the length of time since the completion of the last Management Practices Review, and the degree of organizational and senior management change over the past three years.
AES previously conducted an MPR of ESDPP in 2009, which included interviews, a documentation review and a review of random samples of human resources, contracting, and Grants and Contributions files from the 2008-2009 fiscal year. This 2012-13 MPA was designed to examine a selection of core management controls.
1.2 Control Self-Assessment
The CSA workshop is a venue through which AES gathers participants’ opinions on the importance, efficiency, and effectiveness of key management practices. Specifically, their views on how well each of their key management practices is functioning to support achievement of the Sector’s objectives are discussed. The CSA workshop was facilitated by an independent third-party, and was designed to allow for maximum discussion, with anonymous voting technology used to encourage open and honest feedback.
As a result of the CSA workshop discussions, preliminary interviews, and the review of previous engagement findings, AES identified five key areas of potential high-risk / high-priority that required further analysis.
1.3 Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships Sector
Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships is one of nine sectors working to fulfill Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s mandate. The ESDPP Sector supports the achievement of the Department’s The People strategic outcome of individual, family and community well-being for First Nation and Inuit peoples by providing the Education and Social Development activities of the Program Alignment Architecture.
The audit identified that the Sector operates in a dynamic environment characterized by considerable change and evolving expectations. As outlined below, ESDPP’s responsibilities include program policy and development and management oversight for two Education and five Social programs which represent approximately $3.4 Billion (51%) of the AANDC Vote 10 Grants and Contributions Budget. At the time of the audit, ESDPP had a staff complement of 131 including indeterminate, determinate, casual, and student employees.
ESDPP is located at AANDC Headquarters and is comprised of the following three branches and directorates:
- Education Branch (EB);
- Social Policy and Programs Branch (SPPB); and,
- Business Management Unit (BMU).
The Education Branch provides First Nations and Inuit communities with tools to achieve educational outcomes comparable to those of other Canadians through two main programs, the Elementary and Secondary Education program and the Post-Secondary Education program.
The Social Policy and Programs Branch delivers the following five key programs:
- Income Assistance (IA) - aims to provide financial assistance, including pre-employment measures, to eligible residents on reserve to meet basic needs for food, shelter and clothing as well as special needs.
- National Child Benefit Reinvestment (NCBR) - funds community-driven projects aimed at reducing the depth and effects of child poverty and helping low-income parents become or remain employed.
- Assisted Living (AL) - funds non-medical, social support services to eligible residents on reserve to meet the special needs of seniors, adults with chronic illness, and adults and children with disabilities (mental and physical) for the purpose of maintaining functional independence and greater self-sufficiency.
- First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) - supports the safety and well-being of First Nation children and families ordinarily resident on reserve by supporting culturally appropriate prevention and protection services in accordance with the legislation and standards of the province or territory of residence, within program authorities.
- Family Violence Prevention (FVP) - funds First Nations to provide culturally appropriate shelter services and proposal-based, project-driven prevention activities, to enhance the safety and security of on-reserve residents, particularly for women and children and to develop partnerships aimed at reducing family violence.
The Business Management Unit provides financial, human resource planning and reporting, Information Management/Information Technology (IM/IT), security and accommodations support functions within the Sector.
The Sector works in collaboration with AANDC regions for the delivery of programs and in partnership with a variety of stakeholders including Band Councils, Tribal Councils, First Nations, provinces and territories, and other government departments, including Health Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.
The Sector’s management practices, including those within the scope of this audit, must be adequate and effective relative to the context within which ESDPP operates. Through the planning and conduct of this audit, a number of contextual factors were identified as potentially significant and/or challenging, and therefore were considered as relevant to the assessment of management practices. For example, ESDPP’s social and educational mandate is inherently complex, dynamic and highly scrutinized. The Sector must engage and consider a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders and partners in the delivery of its objectives. Further, interviews with Senior Sector Management revealed evidence of considerable turnover, especially at senior levels, which included a new ADM in 2011-12. Against this backdrop, the Sector is also in the midst of responding to substantial changes precipitated by program and legislative reform as well as the cost reduction measures taken by the Department in response to DRAP. These matters of context were identified and considered during the course of the audit, particularly in respect of how the Sector has leveraged business practices to respond to these matters. Below is a synopsis of DRAP and Program/Legislative Reform impacts that were considered relevant to the planning and completion of the audit:
Impact of DRAP Measures and Requirements
Although the number of Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) directly affected by DRAP was less than reductions experienced elsewhere in the Department, the Sector was subject to FTE reductions resulting from the Department’s response to DRAP. Certain administrative positions were lost in ESDPP which, among other things, resulted in a consolidation of administrative staff. This consolidation precipitated the introduction of new practices to ensure consistency and streamlining of administrative responsibilities.
Also, in the fall of 2012, DRAP resulted in a new model for Sector Business Support Units. This new model was intended to reduce overlap and duplication while ensuring a more consistent and coherent approach to providing business management services across the Department. As a result, the Sector’s Business Support Unit transitioned to the new Business Management Unit (BMU) model. The BMU is responsible for the financial, human resource planning and reporting, IM/IT, security and accommodations support functions performed within the Sector. Since its introduction, efforts have been taken to delineate and clarify the BMU’s precise roles and responsibilities in a manner that provides efficient support of the Sector’s operational mandate.
Program and Legislative Reform
ESDPP is currently responsible for two of the Department’s priorities in major program reform, Income Assistance (managed by SPPB) and Kindergarten to Grade 12 education (managed by EB). In addition, other reforms within SPPB are already underway in FNCFS and FVP.
Income Assistance Program Reform
This reform will create a major programmatic shift from funding passive assistance to building capacity for Active Measures and linking recipients to training and eventually employment. Doing so will create an enhanced service delivery, strengthened program management, mandatory active measures and strengthened partnerships.
Education Program and Legislative Reform (Kindergarten to Grade 12)
This reform is part of the process to deliver on a major Government/Departmental commitment. The First Nation Education Act requires policy development, consultations, legislative drafting, development of regulation and national implementation. As such, there is a need for ongoing national policy and monitoring capacity as well as re-structured operational capacity and skill-sets.