Canada Revenue Agency Annual Report to Parliament 2013-2014
Canada's tax administration is sustained by a solid foundation of sound financial management, secure and reliable information technology, and a diverse and high-performing workforce. Maintaining cost-effective internal services allows us to deliver and continually improve services to Canadians, achieve the highest levels of integrity and security, and respond swiftly and effectively to those who do not comply with their tax obligations.
In 2013, the Clerk of the Privy Council launched Blueprint 2020, a government-wide employee engagement exercise designed to shape the public service of tomorrow. Through two rounds of engagement on Blueprint 2020, CRA employees identified nine priorities to action for the CRA to achieve the Clerk's vision and provide better service to Canadians and government now and in the future.
The CRA's Blueprint 2020 priorities
- Streamline our system defining the competencies needed for CRA jobs
- Improve service by using e-tools to communicate with taxpayers
- Strengthen our performance management
- Improve our staffing process
- Expand the use of social media in the workplace
- Enhance the workplace with new collaboration and mobility tools
- Support our reputation by showcasing employee commitment to service and integrity
- Broaden employee awareness of our services and programs
- Reduce internal red tape
- More than 3,000 CRA employees took part in the first ever CRA-wide webinar to launch the CRA's engagement in Blueprint 2020.
- More than 21,000 employees participated in face-to-face events about Blueprint 2020.
- Employees accessed the Destination 2020 social media tool more than 460,000 times, posted more than 11,500 comments, and cast 70,000 votes on those comments.
The CRA employs a workforce of over 40,000
Human resource management
Our skilled employees, working in communities from coast to coast, are committed to serving taxpayers with integrity and efficiency. We updated the Agency Strategic Workforce Plan in 2013-2014 to detail how we will maintain a workforce with the expertise and experience needed to continue serving taxpayers effectively. The plan identifies five elements that will drive our human resource strategies: a culture of integrity; integrity-based leadership; qualified and skilled employees; a high-performing organization; and an agile workforce.
Being able to anticipate and quickly respond to changes in our operating environment is important to all of our business. We implemented several actions in 2013-2014 to increase the efficiency of our human resource practices.
We aligned our HR business processes with the Common Human Resources Business Processes, which are part of a government-wide initiative to standardize some corporate functions, reduce back office functions, and streamline operations.
We streamlined and simplified our staffing policies and procedures so we can quickly adapt to evolving staffing needs. We changed our employee performance management programs to simplify the performance management process, reduce administrative burden, and improve consistency across the CRA. Our recruitment strategies are aligned with and support federal public service renewal initiatives and meet commitments in our action plans for Blueprint 2020.
We developed a multi-pronged recruitment strategy for staffing certain jobs, achieving economies of scale through national coordination. The strategy includes partnering with government-wide stakeholders such as the Public Service Commission and external stakeholders such as professional accounting associations. We also introduced new leadership development programs to help new and experienced managers succeed in their functions.
Employment Equity and Diversity
Recognizing that the diversity of its employee population contributes to its strength and integrity, the CRA is committed to achieving employment equity and to building and maintaining a strong and vibrant workforce representative of the Canadian population it serves. Our representation levels for all four designated groups continue to surpass labour market availability (LMA)2.
Visible minorities: CRA: 20.4%; LMA: 15.8%
Women: CRA: 61.1%; LMA: 58.8%
Aboriginal peoples: CRA: 3.2%; LMA: 2.4%
Persons with disabilities: CRA: 6.8%; LMA: 3.8%
Taxpayers expect us to serve them in both official languages and we monitor our success in doing so. The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages undertook a review of our compliance with the Official Languages Act for its annual report, and the results were positive. The full annual report of the Commissioner of Official Languages was released in the fall of 2014.
Our sustainable development strategies focus on improving our operational efficiencies and conserving resources, helping us to reduce our environmental impact. For example, our efforts to increase electronic filing are reducing paper use: 80% of individuals and 83% of businesses filed their taxes electronically during this reporting period. Individual filing alone saved an estimated 944 million sheets of paper.
In 2013-2014, we developed our Sustainable Development Strategy 2014-2017, setting a three-year agenda for our efforts to continue greening CRA programs and operations in support of Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.
- We reduced office paper use by an additional 3%.
- We achieved 11.8% green procurement for goods and services. 98% of procurement officers are trained in green procurement.
- We reduced greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicle fleet by 26% since 2005-2006, by purchasing the right size of vehicles for our operational needs.
- We included sustainable development clauses and environmental specifications in 11 of 13 contracts valued at over $1 million.3
- We have reduced the amount of paper used in external publications by 40% since 2008-2009 by increasing electronic publishing.
- We improved our average ratio of employees to printing units to 9.6:1 from 9.3:1 in 2012-2013.
DID YOU KNOW?
Individual e-filing saved an estimated 944 million sheets of paper in 2013-2014.
Our sophisticated information technology (IT) environment enables us to provide a responsive and secure Canadian tax and benefits delivery system. We are able to handle large volumes of tax and benefit transactions accurately, on time, efficiently and cost-effectively with a suite of modern tools, systems, and IT-enabled solutions.
We update our IT strategy annually as part of maintaining the high standards of IT service delivery and security of our data and IT assets. Our strategy includes providing ongoing maintenance for hundreds of applications and preparing our systems and infrastructure for the tax season while also planning for the CRA's future needs as technologies advance.
We regularly improve the CRA's suite of secure, online services, which most taxpayers have adopted as their preferred way to meet their tax obligations and receive their benefits. Our top priorities when changing our online systems are to protect Canadians' private information and to make the systems easy to use. The improvements implemented in 2013-2014 include secure online mail for business and expanding of payment and document submission functions. These e-services are discussed in more detail on page 25 of this report.
We strengthened our collaboration with Shared Services Canada (SSC) to ensure sound IT infrastructure services continue to be provided for the CRA. Together with SSC, we adopted a variety of governance and business processes to guide our oversight and collaboration on IT projects, and in parallel, continue to develop integrated planning processes to ensure that CRA business requirements and priorities are aligned with SSC operational plans and capacities.
We launched several initiatives aligned with SSC's agenda to provide modern, reliable, secure, and lower-cost IT infrastructure services to the Government of Canada. For example, we successfully moved a CRA data centre to a new data centre in West Quebec. We also launched the CRA Email Migration Project in support of the SSC Email Transformation Initiative to move 44 departments and agencies to a consolidated, secure, reliable and cost-effective email platform for the Government of Canada.
In support of Blueprint 2020, we began working with SSC at providing the technologies we need for greater flexibility and efficiency in the workplace, including launching a Wi-Fi pilot project and upgrading our video conferencing capabilities.
Two of our IT projects were recognized as Distinction Award honourees in the annual Government Technology Exhibition and Conference Distinction Awards, the most notable peer recognition of public sector IT accomplishments in Canada. The Electronic Transfer of Accounting Data project was noted for making it possible for businesses to send their electronic books and records securely and efficiently through the My Business Account portal. The My Business Account Enquiries Service project was noted for developing an online enquiries service that enables the CRA to provide documented, reliable responses to businesses, enhancing compliance by helping businesses better understand their obligations.
Two multi-year sustainability projects met their milestones in 2013-2014. The T1 Systems Redesign project will provide the T1 tax program with a strong and flexible foundation for receiving, processing, and distributing the revenues, benefits, and services of many federal, provincial and territorial programs. Similarly, the Benefits System Renewal project will provide efficient and flexible technologies ensuring uninterrupted service delivery and supporting benefit program growth.
The CRA continuously meets and exceeds the security standards set by the Government of Canada for protecting computerized systems. In 2013, the Gartner Group assessed current CRA IT security against industry best practices and peer organizations and found our IT security program is above average among its peers and is effective and mature.
Canadian taxpayers trust us to conduct our activities with integrity, and this trust supports their willingness to voluntarily report accurately, file on time, and pay amounts due. We implemented new measures to ensure taxpayers' information continued to be managed with a high level of integrity and security.
- We updated the CRA's Integrity Framework, Conflict of Interest Policy, and procedures for addressing employee misconduct.
- We created a business intelligence and quality assurance function and implemented procedures to improve audit quality and internal controls.
- We improved how we manage and monitor employee access to taxpayer information.
- We introduced a new level of security screening for people holding or applying for positions requiring a high degree of public trust.
- We took initial steps to establish an anonymous internal fraud and misuse reporting line.
- We updated internal investigation procedures.
- We met or exceeded Government of Canada standards for information technology security protocols, including cyber-security protocols, based on a third-party (Gartner Group) review.
Integrity and security
The foundation of our tax system—that taxpayers voluntarily report accurately, file on time, and pay amounts due—is sustained in large measure by the trust Canadians have placed in us to conduct our activities with integrity. Protecting the integrity of CRA programs, data, and systems is the responsibility of every CRA employee and is incorporated into every aspect of business strategy and decision-making.
During our Blueprint 2020 engagement, CRA employees noted their pride in the CRA's reputation and asked us to do more to raise awareness of their commitment to service and integrity. As a result, our Blueprint 2020 action plans include strategies to increase communications about employees' integrity and a commitment to add measures regarding values and ethics to executive performance agreements for 2014-2015.
In 2013-2014 we undertook a comprehensive review of our security policy instruments guiding the protection of taxpayer information and introduced new measures to strengthen our processes, better mitigate potential risks, and support employees in carrying out their responsibilities.
We advanced several multi-year projects that are enhancing our information security. Our Identity and Access Management project and our National Audit Trail System Modernization project each contribute to securing taxpayer data and preventing inappropriate access. We also continued to enhance our business intelligence program and data mining capabilities, which help detect risk and non-compliance. Our business intelligence work is discussed in more detail on page 51 of this report.
We introduced a new level of security screening with additional verifications for people holding or applying for positions that require a high degree of public trust. We created a new security eLearning course and 15 "security awareness moments" videos for employees and we organized CRA educational activities in support of the government-wide Security Awareness Week.
We revised our Conflict of Interest Policy and related instruments, introducing clearer language around what must be disclosed and increasing the rigour around disclosures by implementing an electronic disclosure and assessment system. We also implemented an electronic process for conflict of interest assessments to encourage consistency and timeliness in managing disclosures and facilitates high-level reporting.
Canadians trust their information is only accessed or disclosed on a need-to-know basis for authorized purposes, and is handled with the utmost regard for security. A rigorous system of checks and balances makes sure this trust is well-founded:
- We manage and monitor access to taxpayer information to detect and address any suspicious transactions in our systems.
- We segregate duties to reduce the risk the same employee will select, action, and review any particular taxpayer file.
- We do not allow employees to serve people in their professional capacity whom they know personally.
- We require employees to review and acknowledge annually their obligations under our Code of Ethics and Conduct and our Conflict of Interest Policy as a condition of employment. Misconduct is addressed appropriately.
- We provide training and management support so our employees can continue to make responsible, integrity-based decisions as their work becomes more complex.
- Our Chief Privacy Officer, appointed in 2013, helps to ensure privacy responsibilities are reinforced and understood across the CRA.
- We ensure our online services are safe and secure and we maintain the highest standards of protection and monitoring.
Access to information and privacy
Oversight of privacy matters throughout the CRA was strengthened with the appointment of the Chief Privacy Officer. The volume and complexity of access to information and privacy requests continue to increase and the Chief Privacy Officer will oversee the implementation of measures responding to recommendations from the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
In 2013-2014 an action plan was developed to ensure accountabilities, responsibilities, and activities related to privacy were reinforced and communicated across the CRA. The Chief Privacy Officer was also appointed as chair of the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Oversight Review Committee, which coordinates action on emerging ATIP issues at the CRA.
Finance and administration
The CRA's achievements in 2013-2014 took place in an environment of sound comptrollership, where senior management's decisions were based on timely financial and administrative expertise.
The CRA has a well-established governance and accountability structure consisting of oversight by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the CRA's Board of Management, and the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.
Sound financial management remains a priority for the CRA. The Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) have put in place measures supporting sound stewardship and decision-making in all aspects of financial management. These practices are regularly reviewed internally and externally and continuously improved for efficiency and effectiveness.
The CRA has a Policy Framework for Financial Management and Corporate Finance, approved by the CRA Board of Management. Under this framework, the CFO has overseen the development and maintenance of a comprehensive suite of policies and procedures supporting sound stewardship of funds allocated to the CRA and funds the CRA collects or administers on behalf of other organizations.
Effective resource management is key to the CRA's success in managing one of the Government of Canada's largest budgets. This is accomplished through the CRA's ongoing commitment to a sound base of accountabilities and financial controls over planning and budgeting, which ensure financial resources, including investments, are applied optimally and are aligned to the strategic direction and priorities of the organization.
Each year the CRA prepares financial statements, such as those in this report, which are audited by the Auditor General of Canada. The Commissioner and the CFO also attest, in the Statement of Management Responsibility for annual audited financial statements, that we have conducted an assessment of the effectiveness of our internal controls over financial reporting, in accordance with the Treasury Board's Policy on Internal Control. The Office of the Auditor General of Canada periodically audits the segment of these controls relating to the provincial and territorial tax collection agreement programs.
Using the Board of Management Oversight Framework, the CRA Board of Management provides an annual evaluation of financial management at the CRA. Financial management was again rated as strong this past year, reflecting the Commissioner's and CFO's ongoing commitment to sound financial management.
Footnote 1: The figure represents the actual spending for the CRA on a modified cash basis, based on Parliamentary appropriations used. See pages 106-107 for an explanation of how actual spending relates to results in the CRA Financial Statements – Agency Activities.
Footnote 2: Employment equity data are for 2012-2013. Results for 2013-2014 will be tabled in Parliament in February 2015.
Footnote 3: Two contracts did not present sustainable development opportunities.
- Date modified: