Audit of the Legislative Services Branch (Drafting and Advisory Services & Legislative Revision Services)
October 03, 2012

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background

5. The Legislative Services Branch is headed by the Chief Legislative Counsel who reports to the Deputy Minister of the Department of Justice. The Branch’s responsibilities include the drafting of all government bills and motions to amend; the review and drafting of regulations; the harmonization of federal legislation with the civil law of Quebec; and the updating, consolidation, and publication of federal statutes and regulations and related tables. The Branch drafts statutes and regulations in both official languages harmoniously with the common law and the civil law systems.

6. The Legislative Services Branch consists of three groups: the Administrative Services Group, the Drafting and Advisory Services Group, and the Legislative Revision Services Group. The audit focused on the functions of the latter two groups.

7. The Drafting and Advisory Services Group is responsible for the drafting of all government bills and motions to amend, and for drafting many regulations. The Group also participates in examining regulatory proposals under the Statutory Instruments Act. It provides advice on legal and drafting matters concerning federal acts, regulations, orders in council, proclamations, and other statutory instruments, and organizes and provides training in matters touching legislative drafting. In addition, the Group plays a co-ordinating role in respect of legislative initiatives in order to ensure the integrity and consistency of the entire body of federal legislation.

8. The Legislative Revision Services Group provides a variety of services related to the revision of existing or draft legislation and related documents. This Group consists of the Jurilinguistic Services Unit, the Legislative Editing and Publishing Services Section, the Bijural Revision Services Unit, and the Legislative Bijuralism Team. The Jurilinguistic Services Unit assists legislative counsel in achieving, in both official languages, the highest possible quality of language in legislative texts.  The Legislative Editing and Publishing Services Section provides legistic analysis of legislative texts and editing services to legislative counsel. Both the Bijural Revision Services Unit (Taxation and Comparative Law) and the Legislative Bijuralism Team (Revision Initiatives) revise existing and draft legislative texts in order to ensure that they respect and take into account both the civil law and common law traditions in both official languages.  In addition, these two units provide consultative services and contribute to the development of innovative harmonization tools and expertise.

1.2 Audit Objective and Scope

9. This audit was identified in the 2011-12 Internal Audit Plan. The objective of the audit was to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the management framework to govern the activities of the Drafting and Advisory Services (DAS) and the Legislative Revision Services (LRS) groups in the Legislative Services Branch.

10. The scope of the audit focused on the following areas:

  • governance and strategic directions;
  • business planning;
  • organizing and controlling;
  • leading and communicating; and
  • risk management.

11. These areas are considered to be integral to managing the operations and activities of the DAS and LRS groups.

12. The audit covered the processes and controls in place during the 2010-11 fiscal year.

1.3 Audit Criteria

13. Audit criteria were developed in consideration of the risks identified during the planning phase of the audit and were based on the Office of the Comptroller General’s “Audit Criteria related to the Management Accountability Framework: A Tool for Internal Auditors” (March 2011) Footnote 1. The high level audit criteria are set out in Appendix A.

1.4 Approach and Methodology

14. The audit work was conducted between September 2011 and February 2012. The audit was carried out in three phases: Planning, Examination, and Reporting. The Planning phase consisted of a review and analysis of relevant documents and interviews with key personnel involved. The Examination phase consisted of a detailed review and validation of those areas which were identified as high risk during the Planning phase of the audit. Upon completion of the Examination phase, audit findings were presented to management for validation. The Reporting phase involved the preparation of a draft report to document the audit's findings, conclusions, recommendations, and resulting Management Action Plan.

1.5 Strengths Identified

15. The following were identified as areas where controls were properly designed and applied effectively by management:

  • The LSB has a governance structure that is aligned to the Department of Justice strategic objectives, and receives sufficient information to provide for adequate oversight of the organization.
  • The LSB has an extensive framework for training and knowledge transfer. In addition to formal training initiatives, the Branch ensures that less experienced staff are paired with senior staff and that there are opportunities for mentoring, coaching, peer review and access to subject matter experts.
  • LSB’s approach to risk management is rigorous, adequate and revisited annually to meet changing operational requirements.

2.0 Findings, Recommendations and Management Responses

2.1 Resource Utilization

Key Finding:

There is no formalized process for resource planning and monitoring on a project basis.

Audit Criteria:

The Legislative Services Branch is supported by appropriate business planning activities (e.g. established objectives; business, annual and work plans). [Audit Criteria 2.0]

The Legislative Services Branch is supported by adequate controlling mechanisms (e.g. workload management, accountability elements relating to performance monitoring and reporting). [Audit Criteria 4.0]

16. Ideally, effective project management practices include forecasting resource allocations on a project by project basis and comparing forecasted against actual resource utilization for monitoring/performance measurement.

17. While the LSB currently considers elements of resource utilization as part of its scheduling and forecasting process, the Branch has not established a formalized process for resource planning and monitoring on a per project basis. Each file is assigned to two legislative counsel - one is at a senior level while the other is generally more junior. This approach has been effective in ensuring quality while supporting staff development. However, without a process for planning and monitoring resource allocation on a per project basis, managers are limiting their ability to ensure that resources are being managed effectively and efficiently.

Recommendation and Management Response

18. It is recommended that the Chief Legislative Counsel, Legislative Services Branch introduce a formalized process for resource planning and monitoring on a project basis.(Low Risk) Footnote 2

Agreed. The Chief Legislative Counsel, Legislative Services Branch will review and analyze past complex legislative projects in order to integrate and develop project management principles that are sensitive to the operational demands of the Branch. The Chief Legislative Counsel, Legislative Services Branch will then introduce a more formalized process for allocating and monitoring resources that reflects the particular context of the Branch. Targeted Completion Date: March 31st, 2013.

3.0 Conclusion

19. The Legislative Services Branch (LSB) has overall an adequate management framework in place to govern the activities of the Drafting and Advisory Services (DAS) and the Legislative Revision Services (LRS) groups. The framework could be improved through the introduction of a formalized process for resource planning and monitoring on a project basis.

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