Archived: Integrated Risk-Based Audit and Evaluation Plan 2014-2015: chapter 6

2. Planning Context

2.1 Departmental Priorities And Risks

A. Key Priorities

Environment Canada (EC) is the lead federal department for a wide range of environmental issues affecting Canadians, and plays a stewardship role in achieving and maintaining a clean, safe and sustainable environment. EC addresses issues through monitoring, research, policy development, service delivery to Canadians, regulations, enforcement of environmental laws, advancement of clean technologies and strategic partnerships. The Department’s programs focus on a clean environment by minimizing threats to Canadians and their environment from pollution; a safe environment by equipping Canadians to make informed decisions on weather, water and climate conditions; and a sustainable environment by conserving and restoring Canada’s natural environment. The Department’s program focus reflects the increasingly evident interdependence between environmental sustainability and economic well-being.

Over the coming year, EC will continue to pursue a wide range of initiatives to address environmental issues of concern to Canadians.  In doing so, EC will face a steady demand for action, working with multiple levels of jurisdiction, domestically, continentally and internationally.  EC maintains four priorities for 2014-15. These priorities reflect the Department’s stewardship mandate that, in turn, directly supports the Government of Canada’s outcome of a clean and healthy environment. The Department will pursue a number of plans to deliver these priorities, as set out in the following tables (Source: 2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities):

A Clean Environment: Manage substances and waste, and reduce pollution that directly or indirectly harms human health or the environment

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Deliver on the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP);
  • Deliver on the Government’s sector-by-sector regulatory approach to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions;
  • Deliver on federal components of the national Air Quality Management System;
  • Advance Canada’s environmental goals related to climate change and clean air through participation in international fora; and,
  • Promote compliance with and enforce pollution regulations.

A Safe Environment: Provide Canadians with high-quality information on immediate and long-term environmental conditions.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Deliver high-quality weather and environmental services to Canadians through an improved ability to detect severe weather and the modernization of the monitoring infrastructure; and,
  • Leverage the foundational weather and environmental services as well as collaborative partnerships to deliver services to targeted users which support their decision-making around their business operations.

A Sustainable Environment: Work to sustain land, water and biodiversity.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Improve and advance implementation of the Species at Risk program including by reducing the number of overdue recovery documents;
  • Pursue a collaborative approach to protect and conserve biodiversity at home and abroad, including through the introduction of a National Conservation Plan (NCP) and the maintenance and expansion of a network of protected areas;
  • Contribute to responsible resource development through the provision of science-based expert advice during environmental assessments;
  • Advance work through the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring;
  • Implement a comprehensive approach to protecting water and to ecosystem management;
  • Continue collaborative work with the provinces and territories on water quantity monitoring through the National Hydrometric Program; and,
  • Promote compliance with and enforce wildlife acts and regulations.

Management Priority:Transform the Department’s internal services operations to enhance service delivery.

Plans for meeting the priority:

  • Continue to re-engineer departmental systems and operations to increase efficiency;
  • Improve business processes and common services to maintain or improve levels of service and client satisfaction; and,
  • Implement the Departmental People Management Strategy and initiatives to create an adaptive and mobile workforce and a modern workplace.

B. Corporate Risks

EC continues to face a number of risks in delivering effectively its programs and priorities, and these continue to be monitored and updated as required.  The Department has identified five key risks that it will monitor in 2014-15, and these are presented below as drawn from EC’s 2013-16 Corporate Risk Profile and reflected in its 2014-15 Report on Plans and Priorities.

Delivering Environment Canada Services:

There is a risk that the Department’s provision of key services and other information for Canadians, partners and others, may be impeded as a consequence of the Department’s reliance on the performance of essential infrastructure and systems.

Working with Partners/Stakeholders: 

There is a risk that differing priorities or capacity limitations of partners and stakeholders may impact the Department’s ability to efficiently deliver programs and services, or advance key environmental initiatives.

Workforce Readiness: 

As the federal public service evolves and competition for specialized/ science expertise within private sectors and industry increases, there is a risk that it may become increasingly difficult for the Department to attract, develop, retain and motivate a high-performing and innovative workforce in certain areas.

Managing Information: 

As government drives towards whole of government information management including greater efficiencies and protection of government information, there is a risk that the Department may be challenged to protect and preserve information given the potential of cyber threats and the ever-increasing pace of change related to the collection and storage of information.


There is a risk that the Department may be perceived as not generating timely regulations or legislation to respond to emerging priorities for environmental action.

2.2 Branch Strategic Priorities

The Audit and Evaluation Branch's (AEB) vision, mandate and mission presented below are essentially to support the Department in fulfilling its objectives effectively and efficiently, in the context of its many priorities, challenges and complexities. 

The Audit And Evaluation Branch

Our Vision

To be strategic partners in the achievement of departmental outcomes
through excellence in audit and evaluation services.

Our Mission

To enable the department to efficiently and effectively achieve its strategic objectives
and enhance its accountability to Canadians.

Our Mandate

To support the continuous improvement of programs, policies and initiatives at EC and to
contribute  to the achievement of departmental objectives by providing timely and objective information, assurance and advice to the Deputy Minister, the EAAC, the DEC and departmental management.

It is in this setting that the AEB will focus its efforts on 6 key priorities for the coming year:

  1. AEB's overarching priority is to continue to deliver all its core services and planned audit and evaluation projects, including:
    • Conduct all required mandatory evaluations as well as maintain a Direct Program Spending (DPS) evaluation coverage of at least 90% over its 5 year plan;
    • Conduct an average of 6 internal audits or related projects (e.g. reviews) per year;
    • Coordinate the Department's audit and evaluation external liaison activities (e.g. with central agencies, external auditors and other departments) as well as the environmental petitions process;
    • Continue periodic monitoring of the status of outstanding management actions and commitments in support of past audit and evaluation recommendations; and,
    • Support the External Audit Advisory Committee (EAAC) and the Departmental Evaluation Committee (DEC).
  2. AEB will provide timely and flexible support to the DM and senior management, in the context of EC's evolving priorities and challenges.  Particularly, AEB will support the implementation of government-wide priorities and initiatives, through its assurance and evaluation services.
  3. AEB will ensure the value of its services and reports, through continuous improvement of its quality management and professional practices.  A number of initiatives, either underway or planned, support this priority: 
    • Implement AEB's action plan in support of the final report of the combined 2013 External Practice Inspection (audit) and Neutral Assessment (evaluation) exercise ;
    • Review AEB's quality assurance program and practices with the view of updating some of its key components (e.g. report format, project control templates, quality assessment questionnaire);
    • Complete the implementation of the approach to account for evaluation coverage requirements and results (e.g. FAA and policy requirements); and,
    • Further expand and define SPC's quality assurance and professional practices responsibilities.
  4. AEB will pursue efforts to position its administration in 2014-15 to effectively support and implement the various initiatives stemming from the EC's transformation agenda (e.g. physical move, email and IM transformation, new systems and policies).
  5. AEB will develop its Human Resources Strategy to better identify and plan its capacity to meet EC's future requirements, as well as promote the professional development and accreditation of staff.  In consultation with staff, AEB will also update its HR and engagement plan to better reflect current context and challenges, including the Government's Blueprint/Destination 2020 initiative.
  6. AEB will proactively foster awareness in the Department of the roles of audit and evaluation, and will further strengthen liaison with departmental managers and branches.
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