Departmental Legal Services Unit
Canada Border Services Agency
August 2011

7. Obsevations – Interfaces with Other Organizations

7.1 Department of Justice

In an organization, strong and effective business relations between functioning units help contribute to an efficient and cohesive operation. By maintaining strong interfaces with other departmental units, managers are better positioned to be informed of recent changes in policy and procedures and latest trends in the practice of law. In addition, sound interfaces help legal practitioners ensure that they have explored all avenues for securing the best legal expertise possible, sharing best practices, and fostering consistency in the delivery of legal services.

The CBSA LSU’s interfaces with the Department of Justice are satisfactory.

The CBSA LSU receives direction, advice, and support from the PSDI Portfolio regarding financial, human resources, and administrative matters. The Director, Portfolio Services advised that the Senior General Counsel participates in the ADAG’s quarterly Management Committee meetings to discuss questions of law as well as administrative and planning issues, and that the LSU provides the Portfolio with the information necessary to complete the DPR, RPP, and the Portfolio Business Plan. The PSDI Portfolio Office confirmed that information received from the LSU is transmitted on a timely basis and meets the needs of the Portfolio.

The LSU also participates in weekly teleconferences with the Portfolio and the regions to share information on law-related matters and Portfolio issues. In addition, the LSU has access to a case summary system that provides updated information on all cases dealt with by the Department and on recent court decisions.

Communication linkages with HQ and regional offices are clearly defined in the CBSA Legal Services Manual, which is accessible to all LSU staff. Staff indicated that they are aware of the roles and responsibilities of HQ and regional offices through their participation in Department-wide law practice groups.

In our opinion, the CBSA LSU’s interfaces with the Department of Justice are satisfactory.

7.2 Client Department

Strong client relationships are built on a foundation of effective communications. Sufficient and timely interfaces with clients allow for the efficient sharing of information between parties and enable appropriate and timely actions to be taken.

The LSU’s interfaces with the CBSA are satisfactory.

We found that the LSU has established procedures and processes to support open communications with the client. LSU management participates in various CBSA committees such as the Executive Committee, the Operations Standing Committee, and the Legal Risk Management Committee. This participation allows LSU management to collect information on client requirements. The information gathered is disseminated to staff during team, one-on-one, and general staff meetings.

LSU management has developed a formal MOU with the CBSA that addresses the roles and responsibilities of both the LSU and the CBSA, and articulates performance expectations including service standards and client service delivery expectations. The MOU is revised every two years. At the time of the audit, the Senior General Counsel was discussing with CBSA management the revisions to the next MOU, which is scheduled to be implemented in 2011.

In our opinion, interfaces with the client are satisfactory.

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