3. Financial Key Stream Project

Networks and Communities: Risk assessment process


The Financial Key Stream Project was initiated in 2006. It is a cross-government project that is jointly led by the Office of the Comptroller General and the BC Public Service Agency to build the internal capacity in government’s financial positions. It includes a number of inter-related strategies to support recruitment, retention and performance in financial roles across government. One of the critical aspects of the key stream project is looking at financial roles from a cross-government perspective and viewing people in financial positions as a community that work both for a ministry and collectively for government as a whole. In that way, the project works across organizational boundaries to target critical positions for succession, recruitment, retention, training and career development through mobility and other activities.

The nature of financial roles across government varies considerably. Positions range from the financial clerk with responsibility for transactional processes, to chief financial officers responsible for strategic financial and organizational management as well as specialists providing technical support and advice. With this variety comes variability in terms of the knowledge required to ensure business objectives can be achieved. Some of these positions require years of specialist education and on the job experience, while others require people to have both technical competencies and a high level of tacit strategic knowledge.

In 2007, a workforce analysis for key financial positions identified trends that will significantly impact the financial capacity of government. For example, it identified that upwards of 850 new staff will be needed to maintain the current numbers. At the same time, the skills and knowledge of many financial staff were and would be sought after in the open market.


The B.C. public service was facing a significant challenge in being able to recruit, retain and develop financial staff to meet future demands. However, the variability and breadth of financial positions made it challenging to target scarce resources to strategies that would have the greatest impact. In other words, the key stream project needed to identify where to focus efforts to ensure that critical technical or specialist knowledge as well as those in senior strategic positions was managed to ensure continuity and performance into the future.

The Practice

Among other initiatives, the key stream project developed a risk assessment framework to help identify the significance of potential losses of knowledge. The framework helped to identify the risks associated with specific positions or groups across government by identifying:

  • the immediacy of the threat of loss, e.g., whether someone was expected to depart within 1 year or over 5 years; and 
  • the significance of the impact, e.g., the nature and importance of the knowledge the person had and whether or not that person was actively engaged in knowledge-sharing.

This tool was used to help identify where both immediate and long-term action could be undertaken to mitigate the risks associated with knowledge loss in the government’s financial roles.