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Audit of Grants and Contributions Digital Platform: Project Planning

Departmental Audit Committee
June 27, 2019

Executive summary

The Programs Branch (PB) and the Information Systems Branch (ISB) are developing a new Grants and Contributions Digital Platform (GCDP) for transfer payment programs (Voted) that will be integrated with other Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) systems, to streamline program administration; provide for flexible and integrated program delivery, management and reporting; and improve client experience. The system is expected to require less intervention by technical resources, provide improved turn-around time, and decrease operational costs to onboarding new programs.

Development of the GCDP is expected to span a three-year time period, starting in June 2018 and ending in March 2021 with three main phases:

Given the size and complexity of this information technology project, its potential risks and impacts, the Office of Audit and Evaluation will conduct three real-time audits, with one for each of the three phases. This approach is intended to enable providing advice and recommendations on issues that could hamper implementation and delivery, so that management actions can be taken to mitigate these as they arise.

The Audit of Grants and Contributions Digital Platform: Project Planning was included in the 2018-19 AAFC Integrated Audit and Evaluation Plan. The objective of the audit was to determine whether project management processes are in place and function as intended to support the effective delivery of the planning phase of the GCDP project.

The audit concluded that adequate project management processes were in place and functioning as intended to support the planning phase of the Grants and Contributions Digital Platform project. In particular, the following good management practices were noted:

The audit identified opportunities to improve project management processes, including:

Management has agreed with the findings in the audit report and has provided action plans to address the recommendations.

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background

1.2 Audit objective

1.3 Audit scope

1.4 Audit approach

1.5 Conclusion

1.6 Statement of conformance

2.0 Observations, recommendations, and management responses

This section presents the key observations and recommendations for improvement. Management action plans were provided and include:

The results of the audit are organized into four themes:

2.1 Project governance

2.2 Project management

2.2.1 Project planning

Recommendation 1
The Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch should task the GCDP Project to formally revisit and adjust the project execution and release timelines as required.

Management response and action plan:
Agree.
As the project progresses from planning to executing, and priorities for development in 2019-2020 are confirmed, the project plan and timelines will be updated. Regular reporting against approved deliverables and timelines at both the ADM GCDP Steering Committee and to the investment Planning Committee will be undertaken. The project plan and timelines will be updated by July 30, 2019.

Lead responsible:
ADM, Programs Branch
Senior Director, GCDP Project, Programs Branch

Target date for completion: July 30, 2019

2.2.2 Project roles and responsibilities

2.2.3 Project scope/Change control

2.2.4 Project cost management

2.2.5 Project quality standards and management

2.2.6 Project resource management

Recommendation 2
The Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch should prepare a human resource management plan that matches required resources and tasks needed to meet delivery deadlines.

Management response and action plan:
Agree.
As the project moves from planning to the execution phase, more detailed sprint planning and linking resources to specific tasks to be completed will be developed. A resource management plan will be developed by July 30, 2019.

Leads responsible:
ADM, Programs Branch
Senior Director, GCDP Project, Programs Branch

Target date for completion: July 30, 2019

2.2.7 Project contracting

2.3 Project organizational readiness and capacity

2.3.1 Organizational change plan

Recommendation 3
The Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch should task the GCDP Project to ensure that organizational change management plans are prepared to successfully guide stakeholders through the transition to the GCDP and help ensure the project meets its intended outcomes.

Management response and action plan:
Agree.
Interviews with Programs Branch officers, managers, Directors, Directors General, and the Assistant Deputy Minister have been undertaken to guide development of an organizational change management strategy and associated plans. The organizational change management strategy will be developed by August 31, 2019.

Leads responsible:
ADM, Programs Branch
Senior Director, GCDP Project, Programs Branch

Target date for completion: August 31, 2019

2.3.2 Development Principles and Policies

Recommendation 4
As the GCDP project moves to the execution phase, the Assistant Deputy Minister, Programs Branch should task the GCDP Project to establish a working agreement for agile development team members, and define specific project metrics to provide visibility into release/project progress for the project oversight committees, including velocity, team capacity, schedule tracking, and product quality.

Management response and action plan:
Agree.
As the project moves from planning to the execution phase, more detailed sprint planning, inclusive of defined project metrics, will be established to allow for transparent schedule tracking and product quality monitoring. The detailed sprint plans will be available starting July 30, 2019.

Leads responsible:
ADM, Programs Branch
Senior Director, GCDP Project, Programs Branch

Target date for completion: July 30, 2019

2.4 Grants and Contributions Digital Platform prototyping

2.4.1 Solution requirement and design

2.4.2 Infrastructure and security

Annex A: Audit criteria

  1. Line of enquiry 1: Project governance
    Structures and mechanisms for project oversight are defined and in place to support and monitor the execution of the project.
  2. Line of enquiry 2: Project management
    Disciplines, tools, and coordination activities are in place to initiate, plan, execute, control, and complete the prototype phase.
  3. Line of enquiry 3: Organizational readiness and capacity
    Plans are in place to define and measure the organization’s requirements for readiness and capacity for change.
  4. Line of enquiry 4: Grants and Contributions Digital Platforms (GCDP) prototyping
    Requirements have been identified, analyzed, reviewed, and approved to confirm the solution design can meet or surpass program objectives.

Annex B: Abbreviations

AAFC
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
ADM
Assistant Deputy Minister
GCDP
Grants and Contributions Digital Platform
ISB
Information Systems Branch
PB
Programs Branch
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