Rescinded [2010-12-09] - Standard for Project Complexity and Risk

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Note to reader

In June 2007, Treasury Board Ministers approved the Policy on the Management of Projects. This policy replaces the Project Management Policy, the Policy on the Management of Major Crown Projects, and the Project Approval Policy for departments and agencies listed in Section 2 of the Financial Administration Act. This policy is a significant change in how government manages projects. As a result, Treasury Board Secretariat is adopting a phased implementation approach, starting in 2007, that will begin with a group of departments that have agreed to participate in a pilot. Following this pilot, groups of departments will be brought on board so that, by April 1, 2011, departments and agencies will have the systems and processes in place to meet the policy requirements.

1. Effective date

1.1 This standard takes effect on June 7, 2007.

1.2 This standard is to be phased in over a four-year period in conjunction with the Policy on Investment Planning - Assets and Acquired Services.

1.3 Departments will have until April 1, 2012 to implement this standard.

2. Application

2.1 This standard applies to all departments as defined in section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, unless specific acts or regulations override it.

2.2 The standard applies to all Government of Canada projects as defined in Section 4 of the Policy on the Management of Projects.

2.3 This standard does not apply to projects funded by the federal government through transfer payments. The Treasury Board Policy on Transfer Payments and its supporting directives provide direction on the management and approval of projects funded through transfer payments.

3. Context

3.1 Deputy heads are accountable to their respective Minister and to the Treasury Board for the effective management of projects in their organization. This standard establishes the mandatory assessment process that Treasury Board has approved for government-wide use. The Treasury Board Policy on the Management of Projects requires deputy heads to ensure that each planned or proposed project, which is subject to the policy, is accurately assessed to determine its level of risk and complexity for the purposes of project approval authority.

3.2 Projects are implemented to acquire or access assets or services and must be considered in view of the nature of the assets or services being created or established through the project.

3.3 The Project Complexity and Risk Assessment Tool provides the basis for determining the level of project risk and complexity. Its use will assist in identifying areas of project risk and complexity warranting further assessment and active risk management.

3.4 The assessment results form the basis from which Government of Canada projects are approved, managed and monitored both organizationally and from a central agency perspective. Levels of assessed project complexity and risk range from sustaining to transformational and determine the expected management processes and controls necessary to foster the achievement of project outcomes and limit the risk to stakeholders and taxpayers.

3.5 This standard is issued pursuant to section 7 of the Financial Administration Act.

3.6 This standard is to be read in conjunction with the Policy on the Management of Projects, the Policy on Investment Planning – Assets and Acquired Services, and the Standard for Organizational Project Management Capacity.

3.7 Treasury Board has provided to the Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada the authority to issue such operational standards as necessary.

4. Definitions

4.1 Risk (risque) - Refers to the uncertainty that surrounds future events and outcomes. It is the expression of the likelihood and impact of an event with the potential to influence the achievement of an organization's objectives.

4.2 Project complexity (complexité du projet) - Is based on the number of business rules, the technology employed and the project's size. It is a major component of project risk. Complexity should be determined at the start of all large projects, and when changes occur, so that appropriate action can be taken to minimize risk.

5. Requirements

5.1 All projects identified in a departmental investment plan, which are subject to this standard, must be assessed to determine their level of risk and complexity.

5.2 These assessments are to be completed using the Project Complexity and Risk Assessment Tool*.

5.2.1 The Project Complexity and Risk Assessment Tool* rates the level of risk and complexity of individual projects across four levels by evaluating criteria in each of the following project knowledge areas:

  • Project characteristics
  • Strategic management
  • Contract or procurement characteristics
  • Human resources
  • Business
  • Project management integration
  • Engineering or technical

6. References

6.1 Related policies and publications:

Policy on Investment Planning - Assets and Acquired Services

Policy on Delegation of Authorities*

Privacy and Data Protection Policy

Privacy Impact Assessment Policy

Government Security Policy

Policy on Transfer Payments

Contracting Policy

Policy on Managing Procurement*

Project Complexity and Risk Assessment Tool

Standard for Organizational Project Management Capacity

Organizational Project Management Capacity Assessment Tool

Procurement Administrative Directive*

Further information

Treasury Board Secretariat will maintain up-to-date information on best practices on its website. Additional background information supporting the implementation of this standard will also be available on the Treasury Board Secretariat's website.

7. Enquiries

Please direct enquiries about this standard to your department's headquarters. For interpretation of this standard, departmental headquarters should contact:

Investment, Project Management and Procurement Policy Division
Treasury Board Secretariat
300 Laurier Ave. West
Ottawa ON K1A 0R5
Telephone: 613-957-2487
Fax: 613-957-2405