Publication

Operating context and key risks

Operating context

The fall 2015 federal election marked the beginning of a new era in intergovernmental relations. The current federal administration, sworn in on November 4, 2015, framed its priorities with an increased focus on federal-provincial-territorial relations. This commitment, along with the return of the annual First Ministers’ Meetings has led to an increase in intergovernmental conferences of all types and we anticipate the trend to continue into 2018-19.

Security is a prevalent topic in the current environment. Whether physical or IT-related, the culture is one of hyper-awareness. Security is embedded into CICS policy frameworks, day-to-day operations and employee behaviours. The Secretariat will continue to ensure that security mechanisms and resources are planned, efficient and effective, as well as in line with government policies.

There are seven anticipated elections over the next two years at the provincial-territorial level. As new governments come to power and others are re-elected, it is important for CICS to strengthen its relationship with our clients and actively market the organization as a neutral intergovernmental agency. Communication efforts should be ongoing in order to sustain and even increase the number of intergovernmental conferences we serve.

Number of virtual conferences served (tele- and video)
  • 2013-14: 3
  • 2014-15: 20
  • 2015-16: 42
  • 2016-17: 48
  • 2017-18 (as at February 1): 50

It continues to be a time of fiscal restraint for all governments and these realities do have an impact on our organization. More than ever federal, provincial and territorial governments are modernizing, seeking efficiencies wherever possible, reducing travel and exploring the use of new technologies. Since introducing virtual conferencing as a service in fiscal year 2013-14, CICS has experienced a drastic increase in demand, specifically for virtual teleconferences. Our agency is proud to continue to offer a wide array of conference solutions that respond to the evolving needs of our clients.

In a micro-agency, even a small number of employee departures has the potential to impact operations. As such, carrying out meaningful succession and transition plans which include conserving corporate memory will continue to be a critical strategic priority.

Retention of young, ambitious and motivated staff creates a unique challenge for a micro agency such as CICS due to employees’ limited upward mobility within such a small organization. The agency now makes use of the Federal Student Work Exchange Program across all divisions on a regular basis to encourage interest in the public service. Sustained efforts will be exerted to maintain and improve employee retention by creating an environment conducive to career development and job satisfaction.

Key risks

Risks Risk response strategy Link to the department’s Core Responsibilities Link to departmental priorities
Human Resource Management
There is a risk that the organization will be unable tosustain an adequate workforce with the appropriate competencies due to a large turnover of staff (retirements & departures, provincial-territorial secondment rotations, peak period staffing), resulting in potential errors, client dissatisfaction, and loss of confidence in the organization.
CICS plans to continue mitigating this risk through the implementation of its Human Resources Plan and Succession Plan for key positions.
In order to ensure knowledge transfer, training materials will be updated and experienced personnel will continue to mentor new employees.
Intergovernmental Conference Services Ensure relevant, responsive service delivery;
Cultivate a continuous learning environment.
Governance and strategic direction
There is a risk that the provincial-territorial stakeholders may not perceive CICS as being neutral which could negatively affect the number of requests for services being requested for provincial-territorial meetings.
CICS plans to mitigate this risk by enhancing communication with our provincial/territorial partners to increase the organization’s visibility and strengthen stakeholders’ loyalty. CICS is exempt from the Federal Access to Information and Privacy Act, the Federal Identity Program. Discussions with key players around the impacts of other transformation initiatives will be ongoing. Intergovernmental Conference Services Enhance and expand strategic partnerships;
Ensure relevant, responsive service delivery.

As outlined in the above table, the current challenges facing the Secretariat consist of sustaining an adequate workforce with the appropriate competencies and maintaining an appropriate arm’s length relationship with Central Agencies.

The Secretariat’s program and service delivery continue to evolve to meet stakeholder needs and expectations. Even though intergovernmental meetings have been on the rise over the last several years, it continues to be a time of fiscal restraint for our federal, provincial and territorial partners. The integration of new technologies and the expansion of services has allowed for increased collaboration and offered more flexibility to clients.

The agency’s mandate and sole program is to manage senior level intergovernmental conference activities undertaken by federal, provincial and territorial governments and their respective departmental organizations. The Secretariat serves all 14 jurisdictions equally and thus, must ensure that its services remain pertinent, confidential and impartial to all clients.