Canadians expect their public services to be delivered in a way that demonstrates cost-savings and efficiency. To date, the ability of the public sector to achieve great results this has been hindered by a risk-averse culture. One symptom of this aversion to risk is an environment of excessive controls over business processes with multiple layers of oversight and verification. To address this impediment, federal public sector leaders have been emphasizing the importance of intelligent risk-taking. This concept refers to the empowerment of public servants to make decisions by considering risk, rather than avoiding decision-making due to a fear of failure. As such, intelligent risk-taking will require federal departments and agencies to reconsider their service delivery models to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, while continuing to ensure that sound stewardship and accountability are maintained.
Internal Audit – An Enabler of Intelligent Risk-taking at NRCan
To continue to be viewed as a credible and relevant partner, internal audit must increase its focus on reducing costly bureaucratic processes, while still maintaining its credibility through the provision of assurance on relevant and efficient controls and processes. By challenging management’s understanding and appetite for risk and assessing the cost-effectiveness of controls in place, internal audit has an opportunity to make significant contributions to the reduction of bureaucracy and elimination of redundant controls.