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In my capacity as President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, I am pleased to submit The Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat's (CICS) Departmental Performance Report for the fiscal year 2009-10.
As an institution dedicated to supporting events that give rise to and support the spirit of cooperation and negotiation among governments, CICS provides administrative conference support services for federal-provincial-territorial and provincial-territorial meetings of First Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The unique value that CICS brings to these intergovernmental meetings, in terms of experience, professionalism, non-partisanship and consistency is a key factor that contributes to their overall success.
This past fiscal year the Secretariat provided services for 75 senior level conferences held throughout Canada; of which 51were federal-provincial-territorial and 24 were provincial-territorial meetings.
Funded in partnership by the federal and provincial governments, CICS is a well-established player in the intergovernmental arena and is committed to meeting the evolving needs of its clients. The following report highlights the progress and achievements of the Secretariat during the last fiscal year.
The Honourable Josée Verner
President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister
for La Francophonie
The Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat (CICS) was established pursuant to an agreement reached at the May 1973 First Ministers' Conference and designated a department of the federal government by an Order-in-Council dated November 29, 1973. Its one program mandate is to provide administrative services for the planning and conduct of First Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers level federal-provincial-territorial and provincial-territorial conferences.
CICS is an agency of the federal and provincial governments and, as such, acts as a neutral intergovernmental body. Its budget is supported by both orders of government and its staff includes federal and provincial/territorial public servants. The Secretary reports to all governments annually. The operations are reviewed by federal and provincial senior officials designated by their respective First Ministers. CICS reports to Parliament through the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
The mandate of CICS is to serve federal, provincial and territorial governments in the planning, conduct, and the serving of senior level intergovernmental conferences. The primary objective of CICS is to relieve client departments in virtually every major sector of intergovernmental activity of the numerous technical and administrative tasks associated with the planning and conduct of multilateral conferences, thereby enabling them to concentrate on the substantive policy issues. CICS provides continuous, effective, impartial administrative services to these meetings.
CICS is a micro agency with a single program mandate. Its Program Activity Architecture is presented below.
|Planned Spending||Total Authorities||Actual Spending|
|Performance Indicators||Targets||2009-10 Performance|
|Extent to which senior government officials are satisfied with various CICS services in the planning and conduct of intergovernmental meetings.||90% - High degree of stakeholder trust and confidence in CICS' institutional, independent role. Consequently, there is a high degree of satisfaction with CICS services.||A range of survey results confirm a very high level of satisfaction with the quality and type of service provided by CICS. As well, unsolicited feedback in the form of letters and e-mails following specific events during the 2009-10 fiscal year remain very positive and complimentary. In addition, two new sectors requested CICS services for their meetings.|
|2009-101||Alignment to Government of Canada Outcome|
|Conference Services||4.3||4.3||4.6||3.0||Well-managed and efficient government operations.|
Actual spending was lower than planned and authorized due to conference activity being significantly lower than funded and anticipated. While the number of conferences was up slightly from 2008-2009, the number of senior level intergovernmental conferences remains considerably lower than the recent five year average of 100 meetings per year. It is important to remember that CICS does not have any control over the number of conferences it is requested to serve in a given year.
|Operational Priorities||Type||Status||Links to Strategic Outcome|
|Analysis, continuous improvement and documentation of practices and procedures, including the updating of tools used in the planning and conduct of intergovernmental conferences.||Ongoing, but escalated.||
|Updated tools and well articulated, consistent processes and procedures will contribute directly to the planning and conduct of flawless events.|
|Management Priorities||Type||Status||Links to Strategic Outcome|
|Implementation of the CICS Modernization Project.
|The implementation of the Modernization Project will bring a series of improvements to the CICS business environment and operations enabling the Secretariat to achieve its strategic outcome in the most effective and efficient manner possible.|
As an organization that services the senior level intergovernmental conference activities undertaken by 14 jurisdictions and their respective departments, CICS has no control over the timing, location and costs of such meetings. The level of CICS expenditures for each fiscal year is, however, directly affected by these factors. As such, in its strategic planning, the agency must respond not only to changes in the external environment, but also to priorities, opportunities and constraints within the governments' contexts. The Secretariat is funded annually at a level sufficient to finance a level of conference activity in the 110-120 range. Over a ten-year period, CICS averaged over 100 conferences annually. However, instability in political environments and more recently the economic recession has led to what is seen as a temporary decline in intergovernmental activities in the last several years.
In Budget 2009, the Government of Canada announced that spending on travel, hospitality and conferences would be capped at 2008-09 levels for 2009-10 and 2010-11. As mentioned earlier, CICS is funded to serve between 110-120 conferences a year, but in the 2008-09 fiscal year, only 70 conferences were held; the lowest number in the previous 14 years. Consequently, CICS is closely monitoring its travel processes and spending to find ways to operate within the designated spending cap, as refusal to serve a meeting due to the travel restriction could have a negative impact on intergovernmental relations.
CICS has also always been characterized by the cyclical nature of its work, with request for conference support peaking during the months of May and June and once again during the months of September and October. With investments in financial resources and personnel needed to ensure efficient and timely services being constant, an extended period of lower or higher than usual conference activity creates a set of operational challenges that require flexibility in the approach to the optimization of outcomes and uses of resources within the Secretariat. Cross-training of staff from other sectors of CICS (Information Services and Corporate Services) on serving meeting's was started many years ago as a coping mechanism to serve conferences at peak periods each year.
The flawless delivery of high quality services to the Secretariat's clients is only made possible by the total dedication and commitment of the agency's personnel; personnel which possesses the aptitudes, character and devotion necessary for efficient CICS operations. Furthermore, retention of corporate memory and conference practices, procedures and protocols are fundamental to the success of CICS in carrying out its mandate. CICS departmental clients are also subject to high turnover rates among the staff assigned to conference planning. Consequently, CICS staff play a key role in providing new contacts with pertinent information on the practices and processes related to intergovernmental machinery.
Given that CICS reports to 14 governments, it must ensure that its services not only remain pertinent, impartial, confidential and equitable to all clients but, more critical, that they be perceived as such in an environment that often can be highly political. As a result, CICS has always been cognizant of the importance of risk management issues and continues to make steady progress towards the effective implementation of integrated risk management. CICS' highest risks continue to be:
Being a micro agency CICS does not have its own audit committee but it still adheres to the Treasury Board Audit Policy by its participation to the Comptroller General' Horizontal Audit program and makes use of the Small Departmental and Agency (SDA) Audit Committee. CICS is also a member of the SDA Advisory Group.
As a micro agency, with a unique mandate, CICS' organizational structure must be capable of delivering services for up to 120 distinct conferences annually. The spending on the program has usually come in under the estimated and allotted funding each year, as various environmental circumstances have resulted in lower activity in recent periods. The provinces contribute up to 50% of the operational cost of CICS, less employee benefit plans, translation costs and tenant services. These contributions are made to the Receiver General's Consolidated Revenue Funds. The following chart shows actual and anticipated spending over several years.
This table illustrates the way in which Parliament approved CICS resources and shows the changes in resources derived from supplementary estimates and other authorities as well as how the funds were spent.
|Vote # or Statutory Item (S)||Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording||2007-08
|(S)||Contributions to employee benefit plans||0.4||0.4||0.4||0.4|