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Annex C

Ongoing Work in Government

  • Treasury Board Secretariat’s (TBS) Modernization of Comptrollership initiative identified the need for a sound risk management approach within the context of management reforms. The TBS has since established a policy centre to strengthen risk management, as directed by Treasury Board Ministers.

TBS has examined best practices in risk management in the federal government and other jurisdictions, and prepared a discussion paper on the interplay of risk, innovation and values. This work:

  • highlights the importance of leadership at senior levels and confirmed the need to develop a government-wide management of risk framework, tools, capacity and a centre of expertise; and,
  • shows that risk management in the federal government is current with public and private sector experience and practices world-wide (pockets of excellence, infancy of full integration in business planning).

In strengthening risk management, TBS has initiated:

  • preparation of a strategic overview of risk management in the public service to respond to the widespread need for information and clarification on the different federal initiatives on risk management and their interrelation;
  • development of a management of risk policy framework for government-wide use to cover a wide spectrum of risks, to more broadly employ successful practices and lessons learned from areas such as science and health and safety.
  • Privy Council Office’s (PCO) Regulatory Affairs Directorate is leading an initiative to achieve coherent and cohesive implementation of the precautionary approach with particular regard to federal domestic and international laws, policies and treaties in areas where science is implicated. The objectives of this initiative are:
  • to develop a policy paper setting out the federal position on use of the precautionary approach for use in federal areas of responsibility, in international negotiations and for integration into the broader process of risk management; and,
  • to assist departments in developing, in consultation with their stakeholders, guidelines for the application of the precautionary approach in their particular area of responsibility.
  • A large component of risk management hinges on science capacity and the effective use of science advice in government policy-making. In this respect there are two groups exploring relevant concepts:
  • The Council of Science and Technology Advisors (CSTA), an external expert panel on federal science and technology (S&T) issues requiring strategic attention, developed a set of principles for use of science advice in government decision-making and highlighted the need for risk management, including guidelines for departments to enable consistency in approach. A second phase of their work will focus on the roles of the federal government in S&T and the ability to fulfil those roles.
  • An ad-hoc Committee of S&T ADMs has been working to develop a policy framework concerning the contribution and impact of S&T on wealth creation and the precautionary principle, as well as an analysis of the S&T capacity required to support these mandates.
  • Through its research program, the Canadian Centre for Management Development has established a roundtable on risk management, intending to explore best practices and guidelines for government departments.
  • With the support of the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Department of Justice is leading an inter-departmental legal risk management review, as part of an effort to develop a more strategic and forward-looking approach across government to managing actual and potential civil litigation.
  • In particular, Justice Canada is implementing an initiative to identify and manage so-called "high impact" litigation. This is litigation that, if lost, or in some cases won, is likely to have significant consequences for government policy or finances, federal/provincial relations, or public confidence in the government or in the courts. This Project is working out ways to involve senior officials early in identifying high impact cases, in ascertaining the strategic implications of such cases, and in developing concrete plans to manage this litigation proactively.
  • Natural Resources Canada is using a policy development initiative concerning off-shore minerals management as a "pilot project" to explore and test risk analysis, risk management and risk communications models, in terms of policy content and public consultation process. In addition, a comprehensive set of policy instruments will likely be required for the management regime and therefore an opportunity exists to develop some experience with instrument choice issues.


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