ARCHIVED - Audit of Enforcement and Investigation Services (EIS)

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Audit

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) internal audit function provides the President, senior officials and agency managers with an independent capability to perform audits of the resources, systems, processes, structures and operational tasks of the CFIA. It helps the CFIA accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to assessing and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes.

The internal audit function is accountable to the CFIA's Audit Committee, of which the President is a member. All internal audit findings and recommendations must be reported to the Audit Committee, and all audits must be carried out in accordance with federal policy and legislative requirements, including the 2012 Policy on Internal Audit and the 2006 Federal Accountability Act.

CFIA internal audit projects are selected based on highest significance during an annual agency planning process, which are then reflected in the Agency's Audit Plan for review by Audit Committee and approval of the President.

Overview

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducted an internal audit of its Enforcement and Investigation Services (EIS). The audit's scope includes EIS operational practices and a sample of the 3,188 EIS files initiated between April 2006 and August 2009 across the CFIA's four Areas.

The objective of the audit was to provide assurance that EIS files, activities and supporting functions are undertaken consistently and in compliance with the Enforcement and Compliance Policy (1999).

The audit reports that with minor exceptions, EIS case files that were examined comply with CFIA enforcement and compliance policy. The audit also identifies opportunities for the Agency to improve and streamline its activities.

Key Findings

The CFIA continually improves its programs and protocols. Management's commitment to addressing recommendations made by internal audits like this one is a critical part of that continual improvement.

Governance

The audit recommends that a current compliance and enforcement policy and supporting strategic direction for EIS be completed and approved. It recommends that a governance structure be included that clearly prescribes authorities, roles and responsibilities and reporting mechanisms to support the fair and consistent application of enforcement and investigation activities across the Agency.

The CFIA is addressing this recommendation.

  • The CFIA's Compliance and Enforcement Operational Policy (CEOP) has been updated. The updated version was approved in June 2010 and posted to the Agency's website. This policy more clearly communicates guiding principles-as well as roles and responsibilities of regulated parties and Agency inspection and investigation personnel–in the context of the CFIA's compliance and enforcement continuum of:
    • generating compliance;
    • monitoring and assessing compliance; and
    • responding to non-compliance.
  • CFIA senior management has examined alternative governance arrangements. A plan to strengthen the EIS governance structure and clarify area/regional roles and responsibilities and aligned enforcement functions is under development (target completion date: December 31, 2012).

Control

The audit recommends that standard operating procedures that govern the application of enforcement measures including enforcement escalation be developed.

The CFIA is addressing this recommendation through various initiatives (target completion date: September 2012).

  • The CFIA is developing a suite of commodity-specific enforcement strategies that identify enforcement actions available to inspectors and a guide on what enforcement actions to apply. Enforcement actions are based on harm, history and intent of the violation.
  • These strategies will give specific guidance on the enforcement tools available to inspectors under the Agency's various programs and legislation. The objective of the strategies is to promote a fair, graduated and consistent approach to addressing non-compliance identified by inspection staff. The strategies include:
    • food;
    • agricultural inputs; and
    • animal and plant health.
  • Development of national directives for EIS investigative staff is ongoing as new issues arise requiring guidance or interpretation (e.g. Supreme Court decisions). Consistently applied national operating procedures for EIS will be addressed upon completion of the review of EIS' structure, including roles and responsibilities.

Risk Management

The audit recommends that a risk-based process should be formalized, implemented and monitored to ensure that higher-risk EIS files are given priority, case-loads are manageable and fair and consistent enforcement and investigation activities are supported across the Agency.

The CFIA is addressing this recommendation (target completion date: December 2012).

  • The CFIA is developing a national approach to file triage that recognizes the harm, history and intent of the violation as well as the afforded time dictated by statute to apply either a notice of violation (administrative monetary penalty) or prosecution.

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