The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada is committed to conducting hearings simply, quickly and fairly. As part of that commitment, and faced with an unprecedented backlog of refugee claims in 2002, the IRB designed and implemented a range of improved case management measures, including the Streamlining Initiative. Streamlining consists of assigning claims to expedited, straightforward, regular and complex hearing processes. The goal of streamlining was to make the most efficient use of resources to support the hearing processes and in so doing create the capacity to reduce the inventory and associated processing times, enhance the quality of decision-making and seek greater efficiencies in screening and scheduling by quickly and accurately streaming all claims.
Streamlining was introduced in the summer of 2002, following the enactment of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Several adjustments and enhancements were subsequently introduced as a result of a review undertaken in the fall of 2003 in the context of the Chairperson's Action Plan for the Refugee Protection Division (RPD). The original streamlining model was updated into a Streamlining Framework in December 2003 and implemented by all regional offices. The updated model was subsequently integrated in the first version of the IRB's Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) in June 2004.
The streamlining process is founded on several key principles. Streamlining is now a permanent feature of the RPD's case management system. It is not just a tool to position the Board to respond to high volumes of claims but also a fundamental means to manage caseloads strategically, regardless of their size. In streamlining all claims, and not just a group of particular claims, the IRB relies on the basic case management principle that claims are not all the same. Each claim is to be assigned a level of resources and effort that reflects its degree of complexity. To differentiate claims based on their relative complexity, streamlining relies on the experience of decision-makers in adjudicating claims. The directions set by the Deputy Chairperson of the RPD as part of the Division's adjudication strategy determine which types of claims the Board streams into the expedited, straightforward, regular and complex hearing processes.
Since the IRB is committed to constantly improve its use of resources to support the hearing process and reduce the time to process claims, the Board asked Consulting and Audit Canada (CAC) to carry out an evaluation of the Streamlining Initiative. The purpose of this evaluation was to identify how the Initiative is being implemented and if adjustments should be made, whether progress toward the achievement of the planned results is occurring and to identify areas where the IRB can initiate further improvements in the streamlining process.
The CAC Report found that streamlining is well aligned with the priorities of the government and with the IRB's fundamental aim to decide claims simply, quickly and fairly. It reported that streamlining is implemented as intended and is being managed efficiently and effectively. It found that streamlining resources are well configured and have the required skill to support streamlining, but that the effectiveness of streamlining varies from one regional office to another. The IRB agrees with most of the Report's recommendations.
The Report points to improvements in two key areas. First, the Report recommends strengthening the clarity of roles and responsibilities with respect to providing firmer guidance to streamlining. The Board agrees with this recommendation. In fact, it has made several structural and organizational changes to enhance direction and support to the streamlining process. The Board will strengthen the coordination of streamlining activities across regional offices. The Board will develop and refine its definition of claim types and its streaming practices, so as to more accurately assign cases to streams. In this process, decision-makers are the principal providers of this guidance.
Second, the Report raises the need to strengthen streamlining with more formalized documentation to support triage of claims into distinct streams. The Board agrees with the recommendation. The Board will simplify the categorization of claims in order to provide standardized and more user-friendly documentation. A recent conference on streamlining held in June 2005 focused on consistency in categorizing particular types of claim while a second conference, planned for early 2006, will focus on consistency of process and the implementation of a simplified catalogue of claim types. The Board is also recasting its streamlining framework into a policy instrument along with the appropriate procedural documentation.
In sum, the Report confirms the attainment of IRB's stated goals and recommends changes which the Board has already developed or is developing, all of which confirms that the IRB pursues a practical agenda to meet the challenges of its mandate and deliver results for Canadians. – less–ZoomInfo