Tax Law Services Portfolio Office
July 2011

6. Observations – Appropriateness of interfaces with other department of justice sectors

6.1 Management Sector

The TLS Portfolio Office’s interfaces with the Management Sector are appropriate.

The TLS Portfolio Office participates on Department-wide Management Sector committees. The Portfolio Office provides ongoing advice and assistance in the development of iCase, the departmental legal information management system, and Echo, the departmental business intelligence tool. We were told that, in addition, the Portfolio Office will be assisting in the development of the next Client Satisfaction Survey being undertaken by the Office of Strategic Planning and Performance Management.

In our opinion, interfaces with the Management Sector are appropriate.

6.2 Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Branch

The TLS Portfolio interfaces with the CFO Branch are timely and effective.

During the audit, we reviewed the TLS Portfolio Office’s interface with the CFO Branch in terms of financial and resource management. It was observed that of a total of 18 direct reports, the Portfolio Office is one of five direct reports that consistently provide the certified Financial Situation Report to the CFO within established timelines. In the Annual Financial Situation Report for the year ending March 31, 2010, issued by the CFO Branch Resource Management Directorate, the TLS Portfolio reported a variance of 0.5% on a budget of $56 million. This was the lowest variance among all of the direct reports.

In our opinion, interfaces with the CFO Branch are timely and effective.

6.3 Public Law Sector and Legislative Services Branch

Interfaces with Public Law Sector and Legislative Services Branch are working efficiently.

In addition to the TLS Portfolio, the Public Law Sector and the Legislative Services Branch, provide annual legal services to the CRA (in the combined amount of $160,000). Except for the TLS Portfolio, the Public Law Sector and the Legislative Services Branch are the two largest recurring providers of legal services to the CRA. Other areas of the Department provide services on an as-needed basis. The Public Law Sector’s main legal service areas are Privacy, Information Law, Administrative Law, and Human Rights, while those of the Legislative Services Branch are Remission Orders and Orders in Council.

The MOU between the CRA and Justice Canada (managed by the TLS Portfolio Office) covers all legal services provided by all sectors/portfolios of the Department. The settlement process for cost recoverable services establishes the TLS Portfolio Office as the single point of contact for these transactions. This approach facilities ease of contracting and avoids multiple FIS codes for settling accounts, since invoices from the various departmental sectors/portfolios for services rendered are forwarded to the TLS Portfolio Office for settlement with the client.

During our examination, we found that the TLS Portfolio Office promptly settles the sectors’/portfolios’ accounts through the interdepartmental settlements process as soon as the funds are received from the CRA. For example, there were no outstanding accounts with the Public Law Sector as of December 2010.

At the beginning of each fiscal year, the TLS Portfolio Office canvasses the Public Law Sector and Legislative Services Branch for a forecast of the services they expect to provide for the coming year. During interviews, business planning directors for both sectors stated that they are able to provide quality estimates based upon historical data for their area, availability of staff suitable for the work, as well as ongoing workload. The canvassing of workload and cost estimates of legal service providers outside the TLS Portfolio to be input into the TLS Portfolio Business Plan is considered a good practice.

Based upon our limited testing and interviews, in our opinion, the interfaces with the Public Law Sector and Legislative Services Branch are working efficiently.

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