Tax Law Services Portfolio Office
July 2011

1. Introduction

1.1 Background

The Tax Law Services (TLS) Portfolio was created in 1995 and is dedicated to providing legal services to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It is one of six client legal services portfolio organizations within the Department of Justice. The TLS Portfolio provides integrated litigation and advisory services in all areas of tax law such as goods and services tax (GST), income tax, collections, and employment insurance, as well as in other practice areas relevant to the CRA, such as administrative law, corporate governance, and civil litigation.

The TLS Portfolio provides legal services through regional TLS sections located in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg/Saskatoon, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax. Most tax law services are delivered to the CRA in the regional offices. The TLS Portfolio is comprised of approximately 310 counsel, 35 paralegals, and 125 administrative and support staff located throughout the country, with 75 percent of counsel located outside of the National Capital Region.

The TLS Portfolio Office is located in Ottawa and there is also a legal services unit (LSU) co-located with the CRA. The LSU, which comprises 38 counsel, nine paralegals, and 17 officers and support staff, provides legal advice to the CRA but does not conduct litigation.

The TLS Portfolio is headed by the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG), supported by two Associate ADAGs (Tax Assessment Matters, and Collections and Civil Matters) and the Business Management Section. The ADAG, Associate ADAGs, and the Senior General Counsel who heads the CRA LSU also provide legal support to the Commissioner, CRA, and the Agency Management Committee to enable the CRA to achieve its mandate, policy and program objectives, and management priorities. The TLS Portfolio Business Management Section provides the ADAG with administration, resource management, and business planning services.

Some of the key risk factors that were identified in relation to this audit included the ability to forecast demand for legal services; the nature of the relationship with regional offices, the LSU and the other units in the Portfolio; the ability to respond to regional office and LSU resource requirements; the reporting of performance information; the accuracy of management reports; and the level of functional and operational guidance in relation to legal, financial and administrative matters.

1.2 Audit Objectives and Scope

The overall objective of this audit was to provide assurance that the management framework within which the Tax Law Services Portfolio Office operates is effective

The scope of the audit focused on:

  1. the policies, practices and procedures relating to planning, organizing, controlling, leading and communicating;
  2. communication mechanisms directed at strengthening links with the LSU and regional offices (e.g. committees, meetings, conferences, directives);
  3. operational and strategic planning at the Portfolio level;
  4. interfaces with other sections in the Department of Justice (e.g. Public Law Sector, Civil Litigation, and regional offices);
  5. interfaces with the Management Sector (e.g. Finance, Strategic Planning and Performance Management (SPPM), Human Resources);
  6. client satisfaction with the advice and direction provided by the Portfolio Office to the LSU and regional offices with respect to legal matters.

The TLS Portfolio Office has functional and operational responsibilities with respect to the CRA LSU and the TLS – Ottawa Section. It also has functional and limited operational responsibilities for regional TLS offices. The audit examined the leadership role played by the TLS Portfolio Office in relation to operational and other issues affecting units in the Portfolio. In addition, the audit examined the extent to which the TLS Portfolio Office identifies and communicates best practices and lessons learned.

The scope of the audit was limited to the operations and activities of the TLS Portfolio Office as well as linkages with the CRA LSU, the TLS – Ottawa Section, and two regional TLS sections: the Prairie Region and the Ontario Region.

The planning and on-site examination phases of the audit were carried out between October 2010 and February 2011.

Date modified: