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Departmental Performance Report

Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat

The original version was signed by
The Honourable Josée Verner
President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie

Table of Contents

Minister's Message




Minister's Message

The Honourable Josée Verner

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


Raison d'être

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.

Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture (PAA)

CICS is a micro agency with a single program mandate. Its Program Activity Architecture is presented below.

Program Activity Architecture (PAA)

Summary of Performance

2009-10 Financial Resources ($ millions)
Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending
6.5 6.9 5.1

2009-10 Human Resources (FTEs)
Planned Actual Difference
36 32 4

Strategic Outcome : Multilateral meetings of First Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers are planned and conducted flawlessly.
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.

($ millions)
Program Activity 2008-09
2009-101 Alignment to Government of Canada Outcome
Conference Services   4.3 4.3 4.6 3.0 Well-managed and efficient government operations.
Internal Services   2.2 2.2 2.3 2.1  
Total 5.4 6.5 6.5 6.9 5.1  

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.

Contribution of Priorities to Strategic Outcome

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.

Met all.

Progress made:

  • Development of a "Conference Services Manual" which provides a detailed description of processes and procedures used in the planning and conduct of intergovernmental conferences;
  • Establishment of Communities of Practice by workgroup clusters to encourage communication and sharing of best practices and thereby ensuring consistency in procedures among all teams;
  • Planning tools such as control lists have been reviewed and updated; and
  • Renewal and replacement of a number of resources, both physical and technological, to better serve the needs of clients.
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.
(Internal Services)

Mostly met.

Progress made:

  • Working groups established around a number of priority areas including supervisor-employee communication, provincial-territorial secondments and HR analysis and planning;
  • New policy for the management of employee performance was implemented along with improved communication tools to facilitate the annual process; and
  • The Modernization Project served as a springboard for the launching of a strategic planning exercise for the organization. A one-day retreat of senior management was held followed by workshops with the agency's managers to establish strategic priorities for 2010-2013.
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.

Risk Analysis

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:

  1. Maintaining the credibility of CICS as a neutral conference service provider;
  2. Maintaining continuity of CICS' conference services capability and supporting infrastructure;
  3. Maintaining due diligence and reporting on appropriate controls, given the increased emphasis on accountability and resources management;
  4. The ability to react and adjust to expansions and reductions within the requests for CICS services;
  5. Access to qualified personnel;
  6. Retention of corporate memory; and
  7. Managing archives.

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.

Expenditure Profile

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.

Spending Trends

Voted and Statutory Items

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.

($ millions)
Vote # or Statutory Item (S) Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording 2007-08
5 Program Expenditures 4.6 5.0 6.1 4.7
(S) Contributions to employee benefit plans 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
Total 5.0 5.4 6.5 5.1


Strategic Outcome

Multilateral intergovernmental meetings of First Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers are planned and conducted flawlessly.

Program Activity 1: Conference Services

Program Activity Description

Provision of expert, impartial support services for the planning and conduct of First Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers level federal-provincial-territorial and provincial-territorial conferences.

The CICS does not convene intergovernmental meetings. It is called upon to respond to decisions taken by governments to meet on key national or specific issues. Decisions concerning the location of such meetings, their number in a given fiscal year, their timing and duration, are all factors, beyond the control of the Secretariat. The level of CICS expenditures for each fiscal year is, however, directly affected by these factors.

Program Activity: Conference Services
2009-10 Financial Resources
($ millions)
2009-10 Human Resources
Planned Actual Difference
4.3 4.6 3.0 20 20 0

Targets Performance
Flawlessly planned and conducted events, including the effective addressing of unforeseen challenges. Satisfaction of parties with the various aspects of the planning and conduct of events. 90 % or higher positive rate. Exceeded. 96% of planners surveyed indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with CICS services overall. Individual features of the services evaluated received ratings of satisfaction between 83 - 100%. This year, 99% of conference delegates indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with CICS services overall. Individual features of the on-site service received by our clients showed satisfaction ratings between 91 - 100%.
Needs of all parties involved in intergovernmental conferences served by CICS are understood and addressed/met. Extent to which parties involved in intergovernmental conferences believe that their needs were understood and addressed by CICS. 90% or higher positive rate. Exceeded. A survey of conference planners asked respondents how satisfied they were with CICS in this regard. They indicated that their needs were understood and addressed by CICS 92% of the time.

In addition, 96% of planners surveyed used CICS for all of their conferences during the year. This would indicate that CICS remains the provider of choice for senior level intergovernmental conference services.

Program Activity 2: Internal Services

Program Activity Description

Internal Services provides support to the Agency in the performance of its mandate. It encompasses groups of related activities and resources in the following areas: managerial, financial, administrative, information management, information technology and human resources.

Program Activity: Internal Services
2009-10 Financial Resources
($ millions)
2009-10 Human Resources
Planned Actual Difference
2.2 2.3 2.1 16 12 4

Benefits for Canadians

The planning and conducting of multilateral meetings of First Ministers, Ministers and Deputy Ministers is a service which elevates a core principle of democratic society, communication, and is a critical component of the workings of the Canadian federation.

By skilfully and professionally executing planning and delivery of these meetings, CICS allows governments to address pertinent issues without getting distracted by process, with significant risk of error and omission taken out of the equation by tapping into our experience and impartiality, and with efficiency and effectiveness enhanced by technical expertise and an understanding of what should be done and when.

The interests of every Canadian are represented by several levels of government within their respective jurisdiction. The success of each level in meeting its respective mandate is dependent on the successes of the whole in determining national and/or provincial and territorial policies through cooperation and negotiation.

As an agency dedicated to supporting events that enable cooperation and negotiation among governments, CICS seeks to execute its part in these processes to maximum effect, producing an environment wherein the opportunity for rational discourse and optimal decision-making is at its highest, to the benefit of all Canadians.

Performance Analysis

Conference Services

In 2009-10, CICS provided its services to seventy-five senior level intergovernmental conferences, a slight increase from the previous year. The breakdown of the meetings is as follows:

  • Vice-Regal: 2
  • Premiers: 2
  • Ministers: 31
  • Deputy Ministers: 40

The meetings served span a wide variety of government sectors and were held in diverse locations all across the country. For the first time, CICS was honored to receive a request for its services at the annual meeting which takes place between the Governor General of Canada and the provincial Lieutenant Governors and territorial Commissioners. In fact, two such meetings took place in 2009-10. Also, CICS is pleased to have added to its client list this year the FPT table of Information and Privacy Commissioners and Ombudspersons.

Based on its PAA, the Secretariat's performance measurement framework (PMF) outlines its overall measurement strategy. Performance is assessed annually using internal data and documents as well as two surveys of clients; one of a sampling of conference planners and the second of conference delegates. These tools were piloted in the 2008-09 fiscal year, refined and then implemented in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

Satisfaction results remain very positive again this year. Some comparison between the two years is possible, though the differences should be interpreted with caution given the small numbers involved. In general, the results were highly consistent and above target with notable increases in client satisfaction in the area of "continuity of CICS staff" and the perception that "CICS adds value to intergovernmental meetings". On a couple of features centering around communication and the level of understanding of our services, satisfaction dropped slightly but still remained above 83%.

Expected Result: Flawlessly Planned and Conducted Events, Including Effectively Addressing Unforeseen Challenges

The survey of conference planners shows that those using CICS conference planning services are highly satisfied with most aspects of the Secretariat's services. On a scale of 1 (not at all satisfied) to 5 (very satisfied), average ratings are all over 4.5 out of 5 except for on-going communications and advice regarding protocols where the average rating is still high (4.4 out of 5). The PMF indicated that the performance target for CICS is that 90% respond positively every year. It was concluded that the performance target was achieved in most cases and surpassed in many.

Expected Result: Needs of All Parties Involved in Intergovernmental Conferences Served by CICS are Understood and Addressed/Met

The survey of planners has measured this result by asking respondents how satisfied they were with CICS in this regard. Overall, planners are very satisfied with CICS as demonstrated by an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 on this item.

A range of other survey results highlight the high level of satisfaction of conference planners and delegates alike. For example, when asked for three words to describe the quality of services offered by CICS, the most frequent responses were : professional, efficient and knowledgeable, followed closely by flexible, helpful and organized.

Letters of Appreciation

While there are no formal performance indicators yet in place to gather this information, appreciation letters are often received from our clients. Of those received, we have chosen the following extracts:

"Nova Scotia values the importance of strong intergovernmental relations between Canada's provinces and territories, and appreciates the role that CICS plays in facilitating the development of these relations…Nova Scotia will continue to support CICS and the valuable services it provides."

The Honourable Darrell Dexter
Premier of Nova Scotia

"I am writing to thank you for your contributions to the success of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) meeting in Kingston on October 29, 2009… I sincerely appreciate the support that was provided by CICS. Your professionalism and dedication helped to make our meeting productive and most enjoyable."

John Gerretsen
Ministry of the Environment, Ontario

"I would like to acknowledge the outstanding service and support provided to our conference by the CICS team… The comments made by all the Commissioners and Ombudspersons were very positive and complementary to your team...The event in St. John's was a major success and was largely due to the outstanding performance of the CICS team."

E.P Ring
Officer of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
Newfoundland & Labrador

"I want to thank all of you for your reliable and dependable support and service for the FPT Social Services DM meeting that was held in Winnipeg on November 23 and 24, 2009. ..The work you did leading up to and at the actual event contributed to its success. It is always a pleasure working with your team as you handle any situation with professionalism and good humour."

Lisa Holmes
Senior Policy Analyst
Intergovernmental Relations, HRSDC

Internal Services

Internal Services was strengthened throughout the 2009-10 fiscal year as certain key positions that had been vacant for a period of time were successfully filled and renewed attention was given to this important program activity. Most reports to Central Agencies were delivered on time and new financial and human resources reports now support management decision making. The Departmental staffing accountability report (DSAR) showed performance in all areas to be acceptable with no key areas identified as in need of attention.

Lessons Learned

The program evaluation of conference services, now conducted annually, confirmed that in 2009-10, client satisfaction remained at a very high level both from the conference planners as well as the on-site conference delegations. While no areas emerged as needing significant corrective action, management recognizes that it is the identification of any issue that is the critical first step in the resolution of the issue and therefore pays close attention to the details and trends unveiled in the program evaluation. For example, this past year based on the feedback from the 2008-09 evaluations, renewed priority was given to organizing the conference calendar to ensure the "continuity of CICS staff" from one event to another in the same sector. Management was pleased to see the satisfaction rating for this feature showing a marked increase in for 2009-10, jumping from 76% in 2008-09 to 100% in 2009-10.

Worthy of note is also the value of communicating the results of the program evaluation to all staff. Performance results were first presented to the management team followed by a presentation and discussion with managers and then presented as part of an all staff meeting. Such concrete feedback proved to be highly motivating for staff and gave a strong sense of accomplishment. It also provided an opportunity for joint analysis of a few areas in need of attention. Equally important, links were able to be made with the priorities generated during our strategic planning exercise earlier in the year.


Financial Highlights

($ dollars)
Condensed Statement of Financial Position
At March 31, 2010
% Change 2010 2009
Financial Assets 18% 154,625 131,388
Non-Financial Assets 10% 267,364 242,488
Total assets 13% 421,989  373,876 
Total Liabilities (30%) 694,420 988,943
Total Equity (56%) ( 272,431 ) ( 615,067 )
Total 13% 421,989  373,876 

($ dollars)
Condensed Statement of Financial Operations
At March 31, 2010
% Change 2010 2009
Total Expenses (6%) 5,647,818 6,019,267
Total Revenues (4%) 1,033,960 1,082,013
Net Cost of Operations (7%) 4,613,858  4,937,254 

Total expenses for 2009-10 amounted to $ 5.6 million compared to $ 6.0 million (6% decrease) spent in 2008-09. This brought a lapse of $1.7 million of budgetary funding for 2009-10. This lapse is attributable to the fact that CICS receives funding to serve in the range of 110 to 120 conferences a year, however only 75 conferences occurred in 2009-10. The other expenses variation is dependent on the location of the conferences since most expenses are incurred for professional services (interpretation and translation) and transportation.

Financial Statement

The Financial Statement for year ended March 31, 2010 can be found at:

List of Supplementary Information Tables

All electronic supplementary information tables found in the 2009-10 Departmental Performance Report can be found on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's website at:

  • Table 1: Sources of Non-Respendable Revenue
  • Table 2: Green Procurement
  • Table 3: Internal Audits and Evaluations

Other Items of Interest

CICS is an agency of the federal and provincial governments and, as such, acts as a neutral intergovernmental body. The Secretariat produces an annual report to Governments detailing the activities of the agency. It can be found on CICS' website at

1 Commencing in the 2009-10 Estimates cycle, the resources for Program Activity: Internal Service is displayed separately from the other program activity. This has affected the comparability of spending and FTE information by Program Activity between fiscal years.