Office of the Legal Advisor to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces
August 2010


1.1 Background

The Department of Justice has established dedicated departmental legal services units (DLSUs) for most government departments and agencies. These units provide client organizations with legal advice to facilitate their operations. This audit focused on the management practices of the Office of the Legal Advisor to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces (DND/CF LA), which is the legal services unit serving the DND/CF.

The Minister of Defence is responsible for the DND/CF and related organizations that together provide the core services and capabilities required to defend Canada and Canadian interests. They form an important constituency within the broader Canadian national security community. CF personnel belong to air, land, sea, and special operations components.

Strategic outcomes for the DND/CF are:

  • Canadians’ confidence that the DND and the CF have relevant and credible capacity to meet defence and security commitments;
  • success in assigned missions in contributing to domestic and international peace, security, and stability;
  • good governance, Canadian identity and influence in a global community Footnote 1.

The DND/CF LA provides legal services to the DND/CF in all areas of the law, except those related to military law, military discipline, and the military justice system for which the Office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG) is responsible.

The DND/CF LA is organized into four divisions: Litigation and Legal Advisory Services; Commercial Law Advisory Services; Public Law Advisory Services; and Support Services (e.g. finance, human resources, information technology). The DND/CF LA provides legal services on issues relating to public law (e.g. human rights, Charter of Rights, Aboriginal matters, access to information and privacy, labour and employment law, official languages), national security law, legal risk management, contracting and procurement, environmental law, real property law, claims and civil litigation, intellectual property law, Defence Administration Orders and Directives (DAOD) drafting, and legislative support Footnote 2. The quality of the legal services provided to the DND/CF is of critical importance to the DND/CF’s achievement of its strategic outcomes.

The DND/CF LA is part of the Public Safety, Defence and Immigration (PSDI) Portfolio of the Department of Justice. A Senior General Counsel and Legal Advisor is responsible for the DND/CF LA and is accountable to the Deputy Minister, DND for the proper management of human and financial resources made available by the DND to the DND/CF LA. The Senior General Counsel and Legal Advisor reports to the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) of the PSDI Portfolio and is accountable to the ADAG for the proper management of human and financial resources made available to the DND/CF LA by the Department of Justice, and for the quality of legal services provided by the DND/CF LA.

Planned staffing levels for 2009-10 for the DND/CF LA were 59 Department of Justice lawyers, 11 military lawyers seconded to it from the JAG, and 41 support staff who are DND employees Footnote 3. Planned expenditures for regular operations and maintenance Footnote 4 (O&M) and salaries for 2009-10 were approximately $11.3 million. Additional contextual information on the DND/CF LA is provided in Appendix A.

Some of the key risk factors identified in selecting the DND/CF LA for audit included the impact of the legal work on the programs and activities of the DND/CF, the appropriateness of linkages with Department of Justice organizations, the ability to respond to client demand for legal services, the level of efficiencies in the organization and in workload management, the adequacy of information for decision making, the accurate reporting of performance information, the provision of consistent legal advice, the management of electronic information, and the appropriateness of linkages with the client department.

1.2 Audit Objectives and Scope

The overall objective of this audit was to assess the framework within which the DND/CF LA delivers services to the DND/CF and to recommend improvements to this framework.

The audit team examined:

  • the management framework (policies, practices, and procedures relating to planning, organizing, controlling, leading, and communicating);
  • the management of human, financial, and materiel resources;
  • the reliability of information systems for decision-making and accountability purposes;
  • the extent of compliance of systems, procedures, and practices with key legislation, regulations, and central agency/departmental policies relating to the Financial Administration Act, Official Languages Act, employment equity, and contracting;
  • the appropriateness of interfaces with other sectors in the Department of Justice;
  • the appropriateness of interfaces with the client department;
  • the level of client satisfaction with the services provided;
  • the appropriateness of interfaces, including consultations, information sharing, planning, and forecasting, with the ADAG of the Public Safety, Defence, and Immigration Portfolio.

The audit also addressed the DND/CF LA’s:

  • mix of resources (including use of paralegals);
  • workflow processes;
  • workload management;
  • forecasting of demand for legal services;
  • staff recruitment and retention, and succession planning;
  • risk management;
  • adequacy of financial resources received from the Department of Justice and the client department;
  • extent of consultation by its clients on files that could have a legal issue.

The scope of the audit included the operations and activities of the DND/CF LA. The planning and the on-site examination phases for this audit were carried out between June 2009 and February 2010.

Details concerning the audit methodology employed are outlined in Appendix B.

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