Departmental Performance Report (3)

3.3 Responding to Resource Pressures

In 2002-2003, the TSB received approval for short-term funding to respond to specific resource pressures. This funding was intended to reduce the backlog of investigations in process, renew information management and replace rusted-out capital assets. It was provided over a period of approximately 27 months, starting in late 2002-2003. In seeking approval for these funds, the TSB committed to achieving specific results (see Table 8). The next three sections provide an overview of results achieved to date against each commitment.

Table 8: Resource Pressure Commitments
Commitments Results Achieved
Improving the quality and timeliness of TSB products
Approved Resources 2003-2004 $1.6 million and 13 FTEs Actual Resources Utilized 2003-2004 $1.2 million and 6 FTEs
Reduce the number of investigations in progress to fewer than 100 Not yet fully met expectations
Improve the mean time in process by 10% (or approximately 60 days) Not yet fully met expectations
Significantly reduce the backlog of unpublished class 3 reports Sucessfully met expectations
Free up experienced staff to work on initiatives to improve future performance and balance activities with available resources Sucessfully met expectations
Renewing the management of information
Approved Resources 2003-2004 $0.4 million and 1 FTE Actual Resources Utilized 2003-2004 $0.36 million and 2 FTEs1
Develop new architecture and an integrated suite of systems to support business needs Sucessfully met expectations
Upgrade the records management system and improve the filing system Sucessfully met expectations
Develop and implement employee training and awareness tools Sucessfully met expectations
Replacing capital assets
Approved Resources 2003-2004 $0.86 million Actual Resources Utilized 2003-2004 $0.81 million
Replace a specific list of assets Exceeded expectations
Develop and implement a multi-year capital asset replacement plan Not yet fully met expectations

Exceeded expectations = exceeded expectations
Sucessfully met expectations = successfully met expectations
Not yet fully met expectations = not yet fully met expectations

1The TSB has invested an additional $0.63 million from its own base budget into this initiative, for a total investment of approximately $1 million in 2003-2004.

3.3.1 Improving the Quality and Timeliness of TSB Products

During the 2002-2003 fiscal year, the TSB initiated a consultative process designed to seek the input of a wide range of TSB stakeholders. These consultations have provided a broad assessment of stakeholders' needs and expectations and an appreciation of how successfully the TSB is achieving its mandate and how it is viewed from the outside. In 2003-2004, the results of the consultations, along with other information, were used for the review of departmental operational processes and outputs to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of stakeholders and that optimal results can be achieved with the resources provided by Parliament.

A reshaping of products and services project was initiated to address issues raised in the stakeholder needs analysis. The project examined the TSB's current mix of products and services and proposed modifications to increase the effectiveness and timeliness of occurrence-related communications with stakeholders. Accordingly, the project team made several recommendations to the senior management committee. These recommendations will be examined in detail in 2004-2005, prioritized and implemented.

A TSB work group reviewed the Occurrence Classification Policy to determine whether it adequately addressed stakeholders' needs concerning decisions on investigations. The group's overall conclusion was that the Policy was effective in ensuring occurrences would be investigated if there were opportunities for advancing safety. TSB Board Members also confirmed that they believed this Policy was being implemented consistently.

A work group was established to develop a definition of a Safety Issue Investigation and to make a recommendation on whether the TSB should conduct Safety Issue Investigations. A "Safety Issue Investigation" is typically based on a number of similar investigations, rather than a single occurrence. The group recommended that the TSB undertake Safety Issue Investigations as an additional means of identifying safety deficiencies. To facilitate this process, a process map and a draft governance structure for the conduct of these investigations were developed. The recommendations of the work group were approved by the senior management committee, and the governance structure is in the process of being finalized.

The TSB obtained approval of temporary incremental resources to reduce the number of investigations in progress to fewer than 100 and to improve the mean time in process by 10% (or approximately 60 days) by the end of fiscal year 2004-2005. As part of a broader human resources strategy, staff hired with these incremental resources are viewed as potential replacements for staff expected to depart over the next few years. These incremental resources also permit current, more experienced staff to contribute to a full range of longer-term initiatives to improve performance in the future, including training, quality assurance and development of modern tools and procedures to aid investigative staff. These incremental resources were allocated to appropriate managers at the beginning of the fiscal year, and a management-level steering committee was established to provide governance for this activity. Mechanisms were put in place to track new investigations and measure results of improvements in processes. This will enable management to ensure that process improvements are having the desired effects on results. In 2004-2005, management will also reassess targets to determine the optimal sustainable levels to be maintained in future.

The number of new investigations started during 2003-2004 was reduced as planned in the Report on Plans and Priorities. Balance was also achieved between the number of new investigations started and the number of investigations completed during the year. Efforts are now being made in operational planning to maintain this balanced level of activity. The number of other safety outputs dropped in 2003-2004 as a result of the reduction in the number of new investigations started. This is a natural effect, as safety outputs are derived directly from investigations.

The number of investigations in progress at year-end and the average time to complete investigations both increased in 2003-2004 (see section 3.2.2 for actual numbers). This represents little measurable progress against the TSB's specific commitments. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the TSB has faced a long ramp-up time for the recruitment and training of new staff due to the specialized nature of the positions. New personnel were therefore not in place and productive until the second half of the fiscal year. Second, a conscious decision was made to focus on investigations that were more than two years old. Significant progress was achieved in this regard, and the backlog of older cases was reduced from 16 to 11. However, this success also meant that the mean completion time temporarily increased. Finally, the TSB also placed an early focus on other initiatives to improve processes, which will impact primarily the new investigations to be started in the future. Overall, TSB senior management is satisfied that the organization is on track to meet its commitments by the end of 2004-2005.

For the past few years, the TSB has limited the distribution of its investigation reports to a small targeted audience of key stakeholders directly affected by the investigation findings. Most reports were therefore not published for broad public access, seriously limiting the communication of safety messages. At the beginning of 2003-2004, the TSB had a backlog of 192 unpublished reports for the period of 2000 to 2003. During 2003-2004, the TSB completed 73 new investigation reports. A total of 179 reports were translated, edited, formatted and published on the TSB web site during the year, leaving 86 unpublished reports yet to be processed as of year-end. Plans are in place to complete the publication of these reports during 2004-2005. Work is also underway to identify solutions to ensure that all future investigation reports are published on the web site shortly after their completion.

While addressing the workload backlog, the TSB has also allocated investigation and management resources to lay the foundation for performance improvements over the longer term. TSB management believes that, in order to sustain longer-term performance improvements, it must make investments, in terms of freeing up experienced staff and managers to train staff and to strengthen internal work processes. The following are examples of investment activities aimed at sustained future performance improvement:

  • Training programs have been developed and delivered in three areas: "Investigation Report Writing," "Responding to Comments by Designated Reviewers," and "Safety Communications."
  • Rail and marine investigation branches have conducted investigators workshops to improve work practices and processes.
  • Marine and air investigation branches have conducted managers workshops with the objective of strengthening investigation management processes.
  • Experienced investigators and managers have been working on the information management improvement project team (see section 3.3.2 for details).

Significant progress has been made in this area and more work is planned for 2004-2005.

3.3.2 Renewing the Management of Information

During 2003-2004, the records management system upgrade, necessary to replace the current unsupported software version, was successfully completed. This will allow the TSB to maintain its capacity to manage its physical records. In addition, a situation analysis was done to determine necessary improvements to the file classification structure for records related to corporate services functions. This will ensure that corporate memory is managed effectively and that the organization is well positioned for transition to an electronic records management environment. This project will continue in fiscal year 2004-2005 and be expanded to include records related to other functions.

The TSB undertook several information management (IM) improvement activities aimed at initiating cultural change and awareness that "good IM makes good business sense." In addition to developing new policy and guidelines, the TSB designed and provided a half-day IM training session to all staff across the country. These sessions were aimed at raising awareness of both government-wide requirements and TSB-specific practices associated with records management and Access to Information and Privacy requirements. Similar sessions will now be offered to new TSB employees on an ongoing basis.

The multi-year Transportation Investigation Information Management System (TIIMS) project aims to modernize and improve information management products, services and productivity tools available to TSB staff and managers. Over the past year, the TIIMS project, using the Government of Canada Strategic Reference Model, has advanced these objectives via an organization-wide focus group. The focus group completed various business models and developed an enterprise architectural blueprint and a prototype of a team-oriented investigation management environment. Additional achievements included the development of a risk management strategy, cost-benefit analysis, return on investment study and detailed project plan, as well as the creation of a detailed project charter document. In the longer term, the TSB will leverage this new automated business environment to facilitate productivity gains and improve the timeliness of delivery of TSB products and services.

3.3.3 Replacing Capital Assets

The TSB was facing a significant capital asset "rust-out" as investments in this area were significantly reduced over the past 10 years to cope with budget cuts and other resource pressures. A list of specific assets requiring urgent replacement was compiled and submitted to the Treasury Board Secretariat. Funding was approved to replace these assets. All assets identified have been replaced at an overall lower cost than originally estimated. The remaining funds were therefore used to replace additional assets also due for replacement.

The TSB has developed a multi-year asset replacement plan in line with normal asset life cycles. However, further work is required to rationalize the asset base and reduce the need to invest in capital assets through the use of alternative solutions such as equipment rental, contracting out some work or sharing facilities with other government organizations. Further work is also required to identify financial resources that can be reallocated internally to permit the implementation of the multi-year replacement plan.

3.4 Financial Performance

The TSB started the year with authorities of $25.7 million. Supplementary Estimates in the amount of $5.0 million were then approved for the carry-forward of the previous year's lapse and resource pressure adjustments. Transfers in the amount of $2.4 million were also made from Treasury Board votes for collective bargaining adjustments as well as for the implementation of Modern Comptrollership and internal audit, thereby increasing total authorities to $33.1 million.

In 2003-2004, the TSB spent $32.1 million of its $33.1 million total authorities. The TSB lapsed $1 million from its operating budget. This lapse is primarily due to lower spending than anticipated on salaries and training for new employees, as well as the deferral of some projects to 2004-2005. The complete audited financial statements are enclosed in Appendix C.

The total expenditures of the TSB represent an approximate cost of $1.00 per Canadian citizen. For this amount, Canada maintains the capability to investigate major failures in four different modes of the national transportation system.

Financial Table 1: Summary of Voted Appropriations - Financial Requirements by Authority ($ millions)

This table explains the way Parliament voted resources to the TSB.

Vote   Total Main Estimates Total Planned Spending Total Authorities Total Actual Spending
  Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board  
15 Operating expenditures 22.3 26.4 29.6 28.6
(S) Contributions to Employee Benefit Plans 3.4 3.4 3.5 3.5
  Total Department 25.7 29.8 33.1 32.1

Total Authorities are Main Estimates plus Supplementary Estimates plus other authorities (see Table 9 for details).

Table 9 Detailed Breakdown of 2003-2004 Total Authorities ($ millions)
Authorities Amount
Main Estimates 25.7
Supplementary Estimates - Carry-Forward of Previous Year Lapse 1.0
Supplementary Estimates - Resource Pressures 3.9
Transfers from Treasury Board - Collective Bargaining 2.1
Transfers from Treasury Board Vote 10 - Modern Comptrollership and Internal Audit 0.2
Spending of Proceeds from Disposal of Surplus Crown Assets 0.1
Year-end Adjustment to Employee Benefit Plans 0.1
Total Authorities 33.1
Financial Table 2 Comparison of Total Planned Spending to Actual Spending - Departmental Planned versus Actual Spending ($ millions)

This table explains, in a government-wide standardized fashion, the way resources are used by the TSB.

Business Line 2003-2004
Total Main Estimates Total Planned Spending Total Authorities Total Actual Spending
Full-Time Equivalents 235 249 249 227
Operating 25.7 29.8 33.1 32.1
Total Gross Expenditures 25.7 29.8 33.1 32.1
Re-spendable Revenues - - - -
Total Net Expenditures 25.7 29.8 33.1 32.1
Other Revenues and Expenditures
Non Re-spendable Revenues - - - -
Cost of Services Provided by Other Departments 3.1 3.0 3.1 3.1
Net Cost of the Program 28.8 32.8 36.2 35.2

Note: Total Authorities and Actual expenditures are significantly higher than Planned Spending due to the compensation for new collective agreements, the carry-forward of the previous year's lapse and special funding to address resource pressures.

Table 10, which follows, shows the breakdown of the net cost of the TSB program by operational activities. All overhead costs have been allocated to the operational activities directly supporting the program delivery. The largest portion of resources (77.4%) was expended on the conduct of investigations (identification of safety failures and investigation support). A significant portion of resources (15.4%) was expended on communicating safety information.

Table 10: Net Cost of Program by Operating Activities
Operating Activities Expenditures ($ millions) % of Total Expenditures
Identification of safety failures 22.15 63.0
Investigation support 5.05 14.4
Public access to safety information 5.40 15.4
Satisfaction with quality and timeliness 0.72 2.0
Awareness by Canadians of TSB role 0.50 1.4
International recognition of the TSB 0.04 0.1
Training and education 1.31 3.7
Total 35.17 100.0
Financial Table 3 Historical Comparison of Total Planned Spending to Actual Spending - Historical Comparison of Departmental Planned versus Actual Spending ($ millions)

This table provides a historical perspective on how resources are used by the TSB.

Business Line Actual
Actual 2002-2003 Total Main Estimates Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual
Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board 30.1 31.3 25.7 29.8 33.1 32.1
Total 30.1 31.3 25.7 29.8 33.1 32.1

Total Authorities are Main Estimates plus Supplementary Estimates plus other authorities.

Note: Total Authorities and Actual expenditures are significantly higher than Planned Spending due to the compensation for new collective agreements, the carry-forward of the previous year's lapse and special funding to address resource pressures.

From 1999-2000 onward, TSB spending has increased progressively each year due to increases in employee salaries and general operating costs (see Figure 3). During the period of 1998-1999 to 2003-2004, significant costs were incurred for the Swissair Flight 111 (SR111) investigation, totalling approximately $56.7 million. In 1998-1999 and 1999-2000, SR111 investigation costs were $34.0 million and $13.4 million, respectively. In 2000-2001, 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, SR111 investigation costs averaged approximately $3.3 million per year. In 2003-2004, SR111 costs amounted to approximately $0.5 million. Financial results for 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 also include spending related to the short-term funding received to address specific resource pressures. These expenditures total $0.2 million and $2.4 million, respectively.

Figure 3 - TSB historical spending

Figure 3. TSB historical spending[D]f3

Section 4: Other Information

The TSB reports publicly on all its investigations. Most investigation reports published since 1995 are available on the TSB web site. The TSB also publishes periodic statistical reports for each of the four transportation modes, which are also available on the site. Finally, the TSB publishes an annual report to Parliament and a periodic safety magazine entitled Reflexions, which are available in printed form upon request.

Previous years' Reports on Plans and Priorities and departmental Performance Reports and miscellaneous additional information are also available on the TSB web site.

For further information, please contact us:

Communications Division
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Place du Centre
200 Promenade du Portage
4th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 1K8

Telephone: (819) 994-3741
Fax: (819) 997-2239

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