Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New Auditor General Report: Justice Canada Can't Control Its Costs

In a report tabled yesterday in the House of Commons, Sheila Fraser, Canada's auditor general, reported that legal expenditures at Justice Canada have tripled over 14 years, but that the federal department lacks the systems to ensure citizens are getting their money's worth:

"The Department of Justice Canada can be characterized as Canada's largest law firm, with about 2,500 lawyers and a budget of close to $1 billion in
2006–07. The services it provides to the federal government and its departments and agencies include legal advice, drafting of legislation and regulations, and representation in court".

"The Report notes that since the last audit in 1993, the Department has made progress in its management of litigation risk and its management of legal agents. However, most areas have not fared as well".

"The audit found that while the Department is managing legal services to meet the needs of government, its current financial arrangements with client departments provide few incentives to control the costs and manage the increasing demand for legal services. The Department has been aware of this problem for several years, but its efforts to resolve the matter have resulted in little progress".

"The audit also found that the Department lacks information on its volume of work and use of staff time, information it could use to determine whether it is delivering legal services cost effectively. It needs to make better use of financial and human resource information for managing legal services".

"The Report says the Department would benefit from having a senior executive position with authority to lead the improvement of management practices and oversee the implementation of changes". [from the press release]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:51 pm

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