Key risks: Things that could affect our ability to achieve our plans and results

Official title: ESDC 2017-2018 Departmental Plan

Key risks

Risks Risk response strategy Link to the Department's programs Link to mandate letter commitments or to government-wide and departmental priorities
There is a risk that ESDC will not meet Canadians' rising expectations of receiving government services in an easy-to-access, timely, accurate and efficient manner Implement the Service Strategy This horizontal risk links to all departmental programs and services Mandate letter commitments:
  • Deliver real results and professional government to Canadians
  • Track and report on progress of Government of Canada commitments
  • Align departmental resources with priorities in order to get the results [that] Canadians deserve
  • Work must be informed by performance measurement [and] feedback from Canadians
  • Work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to set transparent service standards so that Canadians get timely access to the benefits to which they are entitled
  Departmental priorities:
  • Develop and implement modern IT infrastructure and platforms that enable effective, efficient and timely availability of information across the organization
  • Clients can complete all services using digital self-service
  • Clients can access bundled and connected services seamlessly across channels
  • Clients receive high-quality, timely and accurate services
  • Clients' needs are anticipated
The Department has implemented the Application Portfolio Management initiative to manage the suite of IT applications and platforms that support the delivery of services
There is a risk that the Department will not be able to effectively deliver on the current government's agenda and the Department's transformational initiatives while also delivering ongoing services Work planning for major service improvement initiatives through the ESDC Service Strategy This horizontal risk links to all departmental programs and services
To ensure that the delivery of programs and services remains uninterrupted, the Department maintains its commitment to strengthen continuity planning from both the business and information technology perspectives
Implement various change management initiatives
To oversee the effective transformation of service delivery, the Transformation and Integrated Service Management Branch (TISMB) was created to lead modernization initiatives across the Department. TISMB will also be responsible for ensuring continued and consistent delivery of core benefits to Canadians through the newly created Benefits Delivery Services (BDS) group
Partnership/Vendor management  
There is a risk that ESDC's personal and sensitive information may be inadvertently or inappropriately accessed, used, disclosed and/or disposed of by employees or third parties Review current privacy and security practices to ensure that personal and sensitive information is appropriately protected This horizontal risk links to all departmental programs and services Mandate letter commitments:
  • Deliver real results and professional government to Canadians
  • Commitment to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government
Departmental priorities:
  • Manage information and data to ensure they are usable and accessible horizontally across the Department as appropriate   
Employee training on the proper handling of sensitive information
Implement a broader strategy for managing personal/sensitive information
Optimize the usage of data; in particular, appointment of first Chief Data Officer to improve management and use of data assets
There is a risk that current information management and tools, procedures and practices do not keep pace with the growth of, and increased demand for, electronic information, resulting in difficulties finding and accessing information, incomplete or untimely intelligence, and duplication of work to support senior management decision-making Further the Information Technology Security Program (2013-2017) to manage information This horizontal risk links to all departmental programs and services Mandate letter commitments:
  • Deliver real results and professional government to Canadians
  • Commitment to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government
Departmental priorities:
  • Manage information and data to ensure they are usable and accessible horizontally across the Department as appropriate  
  • Emphasize a systematic process for converting raw data into usable information that aids in decision-making and knowledge management
 
Develop and implement a records retention and disposition strategy
Plan and implement GCDOCS
There is a risk that the Department will not be able to sustain a sufficient workforce or attract skilled employees with the appropriate competencies to meet current and future organizational needs Implement the major tenets of the Departmental Workforce Strategy (i.e. have the right people at the right place at the right time; develop staff; foster a productive workforce). In 2017-2018 focus includes increasing senior leadership capacity; implementing critical actions from the Mental Health Framework; and strategically using development programs and innovative hiring approaches This horizontal risk links to all departmental programs and services Mandate letter commitments:
  • Deliver real results and professional government to Canadians
  • Track and report on progress of Government of Canada commitments
  • Align departmental resources with priorities in order to get the results [that] Canadians deserve
There is a risk that major projects may be over budget, face substantial delays and/or not be completed within scope
  • Improve project management and planning capacities for major service delivery initiatives
  • Provide training and support on project management to employees in enabling services and other key areas
This horizontal risk links to all departmental programs and services Mandate letter commitments:
  • Deliver real results and professional government to Canadians
Departmental priorities:
  • Strengthen planning and performance via continuing the integration and utilization of business architecture and business process mapping across the enterprise
 
  • Continue to expand the use of current project management tools, such as the Project Management Information System (PMIS) to provide real time information on project status, timelines and expenditures
  • Develop a competency development model (CDM) for project managers
There is a risk that the Department's major investment projects (e.g. replacing outdated IT infrastructure, systems and platforms)will not be optimized to meet business objectives Improve investment management to rationalize major projects/initiatives through:
  • Convening an Investment Advisory group using industry best practices to develop an approach to prioritize and assess the capacity to undertake major investment projects

Developing and implementing a Benefits Realization Framework to measure and describe the benefits of major investment projects

This horizontal risk links to all departmental programs and services Mandate letter commitments:
  • Deliver real results and professional government to Canadians
  • Align departmental resources with priorities in order to get the results [that] Canadians deserve
  Departmental priorities:
  • Strengthen planning and performance via continuing the integration and utilization of business architecture and business process mapping across the enterprise
There is a risk that ESDC may not adequately meet the objectives or expected results of Treasury Board Secretariat's Policy on Results thereby limiting its ability to effectively achieve and communicate results to Canadians
  • Developing, through Department-wide consultation, a Departmental Results Framework that sets out the Department's Core Responsibilities and measures results
  • Developing robust Performance Information Profiles for each of ESDC's programs to ensure adequate program-level information to support Departmental reporting
  • Instituted changes to governance and oversight to support the implementation of the policy: Appointed Chief Results and Delivery Officer and established the Performance Measurement and Evaluation Committee to provide guidance and oversight  
This horizontal risk links to all departmental programs and services Mandate Letter Commitments:
  • Deliver real results and professional government to Canadians
  • Strong focus on results
  • Expectation to track and report on the progress of commitments; assess the effectiveness of ESDC's work; align resources with priorities, in order to get results for Canadians
  • Work will be informed by performance measurement, evidence and feedback from Canadians
Departmental Priorities:
  • Continue the improvement of the Department's integrated planning process through further refinement and usage of the departmental strategic framework, along with streamlined planning and performance processes and the introduction of a planning and performance management tool

Most of the external and internal trends listed in the Operating Context section are also drivers of ESDC's corporate risks. Specifically, rising service delivery expectations and the numerous concurrent modernization initiatives in the Department intended to improve service and program delivery are issues that are influencing key departmental risks and risk responses. In addition to this, reliance on external partners, protection of private information, lack of project management capacity and the need for further investment management maturity are also issues attended to within ESDC's operating context.

In response, ESDC will further a client-centric view of service delivery by advancing its transformation agenda to modernize and improve the design and provision of services to Canadians, while ensuring that private data is protected and secure. Effective governance, implementing service improvement strategies for major statutory programs, rigorous workforce planning, building project management capacity, bolstering privacy management and the replacement of legacy IT applications are all ongoing measures to deliver results for Canadians and advance the Government's agenda. The Department has also appointed the federal government's first Chief Data Officer to foster improvements in the planning, development, management and utilization of the Department's data assets to maximize their business value in line with the Government's commitments to set a higher bar for openness and transparency and to focus on the people it serves and the public interest.

In order to ensure that these risk responses are effective, ESDC continues to build risk management capacity so that:

  • risk considerations are incorporated into decision-making at all levels of the organization;
  • risk management is an ongoing process, rather than an annual event;
  • risk identification and assessment are evidence-based;
  • the implementation of risk mitigations is tracked;
  • the effectiveness of risk mitigations is measured;
  • the effectiveness of risk identification and assessments is evidence-based; and
  • the Department follows a standardized risk approach across all branches and regions, which includes the consideration of functional risk information.
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