Friday, 26 March 2010

LAC's plans and priorities

Every year at around this time the President of the Treasury Board tables in Parliament the Estimates for the coming fiscal year, starting on 1 April. Included are documents for each government department and agency, called Reports on Plans and Priorities, including one for Library and Archives Canada.

You can read the document for LAC for 2010-2011 at < www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/rpp/2010-2011/inst/bal/bal00-eng.asp >.

Here are some of the items in the LAC document that caught my eye.

1. Acquisition of published items either transferred to otherwise acquired increased to 95,000 in 2008-2009 from 70,000 in 2006-2007, a 35% increase.

2. In the same time period LAC acquisitions (purchases?) from the private sector decreased 43%.

3. Access to information requests for personnel records declined 20% in the same time period while requests for other government records saw a slight increase.

4. LAC is planning that its total expenditures will be $120 million in 2010-2011, a decrease from $125 million in 2009-2010, and the decline will continue to just under $100 million in 2012-2013. The number of full-time employee equivalents (FTEs) is planned to remain unchanged at 1,109.

5. The document explains that the permanent funding for LAC has remained constant at approximately $100 million over the past four fiscal years. This is expected to continue until 2012-2013, the end of the planning period. The reductions noted above are explained by termination of projects for which earmarked funding was received.

6. For 2010-2011 LAC is pursuing a single strategic outcome

Current and future generations of Canadians have access to their documentary heritage

encompassing everything it does for Canadians through its three business lines: acquisition, preservation, and resource discovery.

7. For its program activity "Managing the disposition of the Government of Canada records of continuing value" LAC anticipates spending nearly $7 million each year using 162 FTEs. The performance target is that the proportion of institutions (government departments and agencies?) that received or maintain ratings of "acceptable" or "strong" in their information management report card is 40%.

8. For its program activity "Managing the documentary heritage of interest to Canada" LAC plans on spending $64.4 million in 2010-2011 declining to $44 million in 2012-2013, and with no change in staffing at 492 FTEs.

9. For its program activity "Making the documentary heritage known and accessible for use" LAC plans on spending $19.5 million in each of the coming three years and employing 225 FTEs. Performance targets in this area include that 75-80% of clients who contact the organization online, by mail or through exhibitions are satisfied with the response to their inquiries. Another target is that 55-60% of clients report being able to find what they're looking for on the website. There is a specific deliverable promised in 2010-2011 to bring elements of the national portrait collection to Canadians across the country.

10. The final program activity, "Internal Services" accounts for $29.5 million and 230 FTEs and is expected to remain stable.

Comment

It's surprising that given the reduction in project funding, and the modernization initiative, there is so much stability in the allocation of resources between the various program activities for the next three years.

The document is thin on specific targets, and the targets there are, on the face of it, don't seem especially ambitious. I can find no indication of how the organization is currently performing on these targets, nor any indication of how comparable organizations perform. These are an impoverished basis on which to evaluate value for money in this government service.

Another example of the vagueness in this document is the undertaking to "respond appropriately to clients who need onsite service and support." Who will define appropriately? Is a minimum 90 minutes delivery on documents onsite appropriate? By whose definition?

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