NSIRA’s review process is rigorous and its Members are supported by a team of professional reviewers and lawyers.
Reviews are large, intensive projects that require hundreds of staff hours and are completed over a period of several months. NSIRA obtains paper and electronic documentation from a reviewed organization(s), and supplements these with briefings from relevant stakeholders and interviews with relevant employees. All of this information is carefully analyzed. A review is often an iterative project, with information prompting questions that in turn trigger fresh requests for information and briefings, and so on. NSIRA is legally entitled to unfettered access to all of the information in the possession, or under the control, of federal departments and agencies. The sole exception is Cabinet confidences.
In conducting reviews, NSIRA may make any findings and recommendations it deems appropriate. Often these relate to a department’s compliance with the law and applicable ministerial direction or the reasonableness and necessity of a department’s actions. NSIRA recommendations are not binding, however, NSIRA tracks departmental progress in addressing deficiencies and responding to recommendations.
When NSIRA completes a review, the resulting classified document is sent by the NSIRA Members to the appropriate Minister or Ministers. Each year, NSIRA is mandated to prepare an public annual report to the Prime Minister containing summaries of its reviews, including findings and recommendations, completed during the previous calendar year. Departments and agencies have a chance to respond to NSIRA recommendations, and these responses are included in this report, which is ultimately tabled in Parliament by the Prime Minister and published on NSIRA’s website.