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Operational risks

The major areas of operational risk are:

  • matters affecting the availability of drafting resources; and
  • matters affecting the availability of OPC’s IT system.

Drafting resources

To ensure the availability of drafting resources, OPC has adopted measures to address both short-term and long-term operational risks.

To address short-term risks, steps are taken to ensure that OPC’s operations are not seriously affected by the absence of individual drafters. The allocation of drafting projects to teams of 2 or more drafters provides some insurance against resource problems caused by unexpected absences of drafters. The team arrangements ensure that current projects can continue in the absence of a team member. SMT monitors the leave plans of all drafting staff to ensure that there are no unacceptable shortages of drafting resources caused by planned leave.

Addressing long-term risks of the availability of drafting resources is a substantially more complex issue. It takes approximately 5 to 6 years to train a legislative drafter to the point at which they can take sole responsibility for the drafting of Bills. Consequently, ensuring the availability of suitable drafting resources requires all of the following:

  • a recruitment program to ensure that high-quality lawyers are recruited;
  • an approach to training that ensures recruits are given the opportunity to develop high-level drafting skills in the shortest possible time; and
  • the retention of trained drafters through the provision of interesting work, good career opportunities, attractive working conditions and appropriate remuneration.

In previous years, OPC’s turnover of drafting staff has been approximately 3% per annum. This very low turnover enabled OPC to build up a strong group of drafters. This financial year saw a larger number of drafters than usual leave, with 5 drafters leaving OPC, primarily due to retirement. However, this was offset by the recruitment of 4 additional drafters. In addition, we secured the services of Mr Tom Reid, a former Second Parliamentary Counsel in OPC.

Information technology systems

OPC is very dependent on its IT systems. These systems provide substantial efficiencies and are integral to the work of all OPC staff. Therefore, any interruption to the availability of the IT systems would have a major effect upon OPC.

Comprehensive risk management and contingency plans have been developed for OPC’s IT systems. This has ensured very few interruptions to the availability of these systems. In addition, OPC is prepared for the possibility of major damage to our IT systems.

OPC maintains an off-site server facility. This provides OPC with a high level of protection against loss of IT services and plays a key role in OPC’s Business Continuity Management Plan.

OPC has reviewed the risk management and contingency plans as part of the work on BCM for the whole of OPC.

OPC continues to provide secure remote access to OPC’s IT systems for all staff. This enables staff to perform some work from home and when travelling and also provides a contingency arrangement if OPC’s buildings are unavailable.