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Archived - Audit of the Management of Export Certificates

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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 Chief Audit Executive is accountable to CFIA's President, who is a member of CFIA's Audit Committee. All internal audit findings and recommendations are 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 identified through an annual and multi-year risk-based audit planning process. These plans are submitted to the Audit Committee for review and recommendation to the President for approval.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) conducted an internal audit of management of export certificates issued during the period from April 2010 to September 2011.

Export certification plays an important role in international trade and helps protect the excellent international reputation of Canada's exports of food, plants, animals and associated products. Canada is the world's fourth largest exporter of food products, with 2010 exports estimated at $35.4 billion. The food export market accounts for approximately 350,000 Canadian jobs.

The objective of the audit was to provide assurance that CFIA export certificates are well-managed and in accordance with relevant legislations, policies, directives and standards.

The CFIA is recognized by foreign governments as the competent authority in Canada for the regulation of food, plants and animals. The CFIA issues export certificates for commodities in all its business lines (food, plants and animals), which provide certification statements to meet foreign country import requirements.

As of 2011, over a five-year period, the CFIA is moving towards a new model of export certification. In particular, the Agency will implement an electronic services delivery platform (ESDP) that will enable regulated parties and foreign country authorities to more readily access programs and information, and conduct regular business transactions with the Agency. Transparent, timely and effective interactions will allow the CFIA to achieve operational efficiencies, while administrative burden on businesses will be reduced. The ESDP will include the development of secure electronic export certificates.

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.

Key Findings

The audit identified opportunities for improvement and made two recommendations, which are already being addressed by the Agency.

1) The CFIA needs to develop and implement a short-term solution to ensure that the required export certificates information is available, until the Enterprise Electronic Certification project is implemented.

2) The CFIA needs to assess the security risk related to export certificates, including stamps and crimps, and develop and implement the appropriate security guidelines.

Complete report:

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