Departmental Legal Services Unit
Canada Border Services Agency
August 2011

1. Introduction

1.1 Background

The Department of Justice has headquarters in Ottawa and comprises approximately 5,000 employees. The Department has established dedicated legal services units (LSUs) for most government departments and agencies. These units provide a range of legal advisory and other services to the client organizations to facilitate their operations. This audit focuses on the management practices of the LSU serving the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The CBSA was created in December 2003 with the mandate of providing integrated border services that support national security and public safety priorities, and facilitate the free flow of persons and goods into Canada. The Senior General Counsel heads the LSU and reports to the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (ADAG) of the Public Safety, Defence and Immigration (PSDI) Portfolio. The LSU consists of approximately 31 lawyers and 14 support staff who are CBSA employees. Planned O&M and salary expenditures for 2010-11 amounted to the following: O&M CBSA – $143,608; O&M Justice Canada – $180,585; Salary CBSA – $870,191; Salary Justice Canada – $3,424,875. Additional contextual information is provided in Appendix A.

The key risk factors that were considered in relation to this audit entity include: impact of legal work on the client department; ability to respond to client demand for legal services; effectiveness of linkages with Department of Justice organizations and client departments; the level of efficiencies in the organization and in workload management; adequacy of information for decision making; accurate reporting of performance information; provision of consistent legal advice and litigation services; and management of electronic information.

1.2 Audit Objectives and Scope

The overall objective of the audit was to provide assurance that the management framework within which the LSU delivers its services to CBSA is effective.

The scope of the audit included the operations and activities of the CBSA LSU and focused on:

  • the management control framework in place to support governance and strategic directions and the procedures, practices, and policies related to business planning, organizing, controlling, leading, and communicating within the LSU;
  • the management of human, financial, and materiel resources;
  • the reliability of information systems for decision making and accountability, the level of support received from IMB, user training, and security of electronic information;
  • the LSU’s compliance with the Official Languages Act;
  • risk and legal file management and forecasting demand for legal services;
  • interfaces with other Justice sectors and the client department;
  • client satisfaction.

The planning and the on-site examination phases of the audit were carried out between October 2010 and January 2011.

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