Canadians have access to timely, relevant and quality statistical information on Canada’s changing economy and society for informed debate, research and decision making on social and economic issues.
Statistics Canada’s performance management framework focuses on the components of the strategic outcome as well as on the enablers that make the achievement of that outcome possible.
In the business model, the strategic outcome described above is achieved by providing access to a trustedsource of information. Trust can be established only if data are relevant, meaning they meet the most important needs of users, and if users are confident that the information is of the highest possible quality. Access, relevance and quality can be optimized only if the Agency practises maximum organizational efficiency.
The enablers that allow the outcome to be achieved include the Agency’s human resources, governanceframework and risk managementstrategy.
Access—Statistics Canada has a rich inventory of information holdings. Access refers to awareness and use of this information. Providing access to users has two aspects: access to publicly available data; and access, for statistical and research use, to microdata files, in a manner that fully preserves the confidentiality of individual households and businesses. The Agency’s principal strategy for providing access to publicly available statistics is through its Internet website. Providing access to more detailed microdata is achieved by facilitating controlled use of these data in a national network of Research Data Centres.
Relevance—Relevance is defined as the production of information that responds to Canada’s evolving and highest-priority needs. Relevance or usefulness of data is largely in the hands of the users. To understand their needs, Statistics Canada monitors data usage and consults with users, stakeholders and advisory committees to ensure that its products and services are meeting the most important information needs of the present and the future. A reality of the world of statistics is that relevance of the data produced by any statistical agency diminishes over time, as the needs of the citizens and their government change with the evolution of the country. A statistical agency must evolve continuously to stay relevant. Statistics Canada has developed a variety of tools to monitor the changing needs of the country.
Quality—Users must be able to trust that the Agency’s statistics are factual and reliable representations of the social and economic worlds they are meant to describe. Like relevance, the quality of data produced by any statistical agency diminishes over time automatically unless steps are taken proactively to deal with this trend. The approach used by Statistics Canada to maintain and improve data quality comprises a variety of measures that are acting jointly at various levels throughout the organization. Such measures include a strong program of research and innovation in statistical methods, the regular updating of standard classifications and an ongoing program of internal quality reviews to identify and eliminate any specific weaknesses, and to share and promote best practices across the Agency.
Organizational efficiency—Statistics Canada has a long tradition of producing the largest possible volume of high-quality information with the resources available to it. It has in place a business model, unique governance and management structure, and a dynamic system to innovate, manage risks and anticipate and solve problems as they emerge.
Human resources—People are by far Statistics Canada’s most important asset. Therefore, effective human resource management is a key factor in achieving the Agency’s strategic outcome. Given the specialized skill set of a statistical agency, effort is focused on recruitment, training, career advancement and maintaining a positive workplace. Statistics Canada fully embraces the Public Service Renewal initiatives in its human resource management practices.
Governance—Statistics Canada has a mature and effective governance and management structure, which integrates strategic priority setting and decision making and ensures accountability.
A well-established system of corporate-level committees is responsible for consultation and recommending strategic options for program development and delivery. Committee membership includes senior managers from across Statistics Canada. Leadership is provided by Policy Committee, which is responsible for strategic direction and for corporate-level management and decisions. All significant corporate issues are reviewed at this highest level, with final decisions rendered by the Chief Statistician as Chair of Policy Committee.
The decision-making infrastructure ensures that decisions are based on what is best for the organization; it encourages innovation and strategies to improve efficiency; and it increases capacity by enabling the effective integration of issues and initiatives.
Risk management—In keeping with government-wide expectations of good governance and modern comptrollership, Statistics Canada places great emphasis on managing risks in all planning and delivery activities.
The Agency currently has in place an effective, integrated risk management strategy whose development and implementation have been guided, over the years, by Treasury Board Secretariat requirements. With respect to ‘risk,’ Statistics Canada has a framework to identify risks in each area of its work and has also developed risk profiles. With respect to ‘management,’ it has set up a number of processes. Combining both ‘risk’ and ‘management,’ these processes include a comprehensive system of biennial and quadrennial program reviews covering all sources of risk. They also include a detailed quality review of selected programs every year, focusing on risks affecting data accuracy. The results from these reviews are brought together into the annual corporate long-term planning process, where they are analysed and where decisions are made to ensure that Statistics Canada addresses all important risks. Ultimately, all major risk management issues are brought to Policy Committee for discussion and final decision.
The creation of a new Project Management Office within Statistics Canada will strengthen the project management skills of Agency managers and will allow them to deliver more projects on time and within budget and scope. The Project Management Office will support the Corporate Business Architecture (CBA) and Management Accountability Framework’s Project Management component.