Tax Law Services Portfolio Office
July 2011

5. OBSERVATIONS – STRATEGIC AND OPERATIONAL PLANNING

Strategic and operational planning is documented and understood within the TLS Portfolio.

Effective business planning activities and documentation are essential for directing an organization toward the achievement of management’s strategic goals, priorities, and objectives. Formal plans need to incorporate objectives for all key areas of the organization.

The TLS Portfolio Office has published a Strategic Business Plan for fiscal years 2010-12. The plan sets out the Portfolio’s current position with respect to organization, resources, caseload, etc., and the priorities and key factors that will be acted upon during the period of the plan. The Strategic Business Plan is designed to ensure that the Portfolio evolves to meet the CRA’s current and future needs for legal services. The plan emphasizes the importance of national coordination, risk management, capacity development, and knowledge transfer, and the use of information management/technology. Both the Strategic Business Plan and the service standards, which were professionally published in report and brochure format respectively, have been circulated throughout the TLS Portfolio and within the CRA.

The TLS Portfolio Office participates in the major management exercises of the Department of Justice, such as the Estimates cycle, strategic planning, and performance management initiatives, as well as other government-wide initiatives including the expenditure review. The Performance Management Framework for the Portfolio, which provides information on all of the legal services that the Department provides to CRA, is well developed and maintained, and assists senior management in the decision-making process.

The National Tax Board of Directors (NTBD) ensures that strategic and operational issues are consistently addressed in managing the law. To assist the work of the NTBD, the Tax Committee pilot project was established to support the delivery of litigation and advisory services. The Tax Committee pilot project was comprised of 45 members (with 10 from the CRA LSU) representing various practice groups. The pilot was a success and the Tax Committee, which has now been made permanent, plays a key role in reviewing factums and adverse decision recommendations in key cases on a national basis.

Furthermore, the regular two-way flow of information between CRA and the TLS Portfolio Office and regional TLS sections ensures that TLS Portfolio management are quickly able to identify and address issues and trends. TLS regional directors meet on a routine basis with their CRA counterparts in the regions. The information coming from these meetings provides early warning to the TLS Portfolio Office of emerging issues and files, thereby providing a context for strategic and operational planning. Based upon the audit interviews and materials reviewed, we found that strategic and operational planning is documented and understood within the Portfolio.

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