CIHR Internal Reviews – Management response and action plan

May 2016


When CIHR first embarked on the reforms of its open programs and peer review process, we committed to regularly evaluating our progress. By assessing the implementation of the changes as well as our internal capacities, we could learn from our experiences and make course corrections, as required.

In 2015, CIHR commissioned two internal reviews:

  • Internal Audit Consulting Engagement Report – to assess the lessons learned from the reforms pilots; and
  • Reforms Client Relationship Management (CRM) Project Independent Third Party Review – to assess business systems.

These reviews were focused on internal capacities and processes. The goal was to use the findings to improve the efficiency of CIHR's internal operations, as part of our corporate commitment to achieving organizational excellence.

The following Action Plan highlights many of the steps we are taking to improve our internal processes, as a result of the feedback received from the reviews. CIHR thanks the many employees who contributed their experiences and insights to these reviews. Their contributions will help to strengthen our work environment, as we implement the remaining phases of the reforms.

Findings and action plan

The reviews identified a number of internal strengths, most notably that:

  • key planning activities were properly undertaken;
  • document and planning tools were well developed;
  • the pilots occurred during the specified timeframes, thanks to a dedicated project team; and
  • employee engagement in the pilots resulted in greater dedication and commitment during times of change.

The reviews also identified a number of opportunities for improvement, involving five areas:

  • Governance;
  • Communications and stakeholder engagement;
  • Information for senior level committee decision-making;
  • Project management and planning; and
  • Internal stakeholder engagement and impact on personnel.

CIHR has accepted the recommendations of the reviews and, in response, is taking the actions listed below.


Action plan: The overall governance and decision-making structure of the pilots and reforms implementation has been re-examined to ensure it is still appropriate to CIHR as it enters the final stage of the implementation. As part of this process, CIHR has examined its current governance culture, focusing on how decisions are challenged and planning assumptions are made. This has led to the creation of a new governance structure to better support IT infrastructure. The governance and decision-making structure will continue to be reviewed regularly moving forward.

Communications and stakeholder engagement

Action plan: CIHR is reviewing its communications strategy and practices to enhance public communications related to the pilots and reforms implementation. This re-examination will reinforce strategic elements of the reforms implementation; further engage Scientific Directors and Institutes; and integrate experts from the Communications and Public Outreach branch, the Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics portfolio, and the External Affairs and Business Development portfolio. This includes the creation of a new centralized Contact Centre, as well as a dedication to adopting new ways to communicate and work together, ensuring greater clarity and transparency.

Information for senior level committee decision-making

Action plan: Overall reporting and governance operations surrounding the Reforms Implementation Steering Committee and Task Force have been re-examined.  These operations have been improved to better support Committee roles and responsibilities, as defined in their Terms of Reference, and provide relevant, analyzed, and timely data for decision making. CIHR is also adjusting its change management processes to include a more fulsome analysis of operational resource and cost impacts, prior to proceeding with any change. The Steering Committee has been reconstituted, will meet bi-weekly, and have full oversight of the administrative, financial management, and project planning functions for the reforms.

Project management and planning

Action plan: For future pilots, the Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics portfolio and the Information Management Technology Services branch have established project management procedures to define business rules surrounding individual pilots. This includes an enhanced change management and control process. CIHR will also incorporate a more fulsome post mortem analysis of each pilot and leverage performance data, systems, and available budget information to better plan for future activities.

Internal stakeholder engagement and impact on personnel

Action plan: CIHR will continue to survey staff to provide additional data on employee engagement. Additionally, CIHR is conducting exit interviews, follow-up discussions, or consultative sessions with individuals who have transitioned out of the pilots to maximize the knowledge transfer of lessons learned. CIHR will also re-examine and adjust current corporate priorities to adapt to the results of the aforementioned assessment. Finally, CIHR will continue to provide training to staff on the use of new IT applications.

CIHR believes in continuous improvement and we are committed to ensuring that our decision-making processes, IT support systems, and project management practices meet the highest standards. We are confident that these actions will strengthen our governance, communications, and internal processes, thereby facilitating the implementation of the final phase of the reforms.

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