Government agencies are not known for innovation, and back in 2000 the Province of British Columbia was no exception. A Hackett benchmarking survey indicated that the staff spent 77% of their time processing invoices--20% more than the most efficient corporations.
"No common processes existed to identify common errors, risks and the root cause of problems related to expenditures and payments," says Shyrl Kennedy, executive director of the province's relatively new Corporate Compliance and Controls Monitoring Branch (3CMB).
No more. This branch of the comptroller general's office has achieved average efficiency savings of $20 million in each of the past three fiscal years. Starting from scratch, with no models or frameworks to use for guidance, the office established a one-of-a-kind risk-based governance program to monitor policy compliance, reduce financial risk and strengthen internal controls.
"Moving from pre-audit of all spending to a post-payment compliance review process using a risk-based sampling approach and focusing scrutiny on higher-risk expenditures was key to our success," says Kennedy.
Through a continuous improvement cycle and by amalgamating systems, data, people, policy and processes, 3CMB reports valid and useful information to improve the efficiencies and effectiveness of government operations through improvements to policies, systems and training.
Key achievements include: the ability to immediately access all source data and rapidly analyze volumes of transactional data with ACL in a server environment; an integrated statistical sampling methodology; a standardized risk-based review routine; a payment review and management reporting system; and implementation of ACL continuous monitoring technology for purchase cards. ACL's continuous monitoring technology for purchase-to-pay applications will be implemented in early 2009.
Benefits were both immediate and long term. Increased resources are available for direct program delivery to citizens. Receipt of payments in a timely manner benefits economic confidence in government.
Improved document management processes increase government's ability to respond to information and privacy requests; and improved data integrity enables corporate reporting.