Position Profile

Job Title:  Senior Budget / Finance Officer

Work Unit:  Strategic Support Division / Finance Unit

Ministry:  Alberta Children's Services / Community and Social Services

Competition Number:  1043240

Date:  July 2017
 

Position Summary

 

Reporting to the Director of Strategic Support, the key focus of the Senior Budget/Finance Officer and of his/her staff will be ensuring that the OCYA’s financial resource requirements are met by providing professional and quality budgeting/ forecasting and financial support services for the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA).

  • Leading a team of professionals and administrative staff responsible for providing financial services to support the preparation of OCYA’s:
    • Annual budget and 3-year fiscal targets, along with related briefing materials, for the Child and Youth Advocate (Advocate) and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) members for use at Standing Committee on Legislative Offices, Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.
    • Quarterly actual results and forecasts of expense and revenue to the Advocate and SLT members and senior officials at Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.
    • Monthly financial updates to the Advocate and SLT members including identifying major cost pressures and surpluses.
    • Work closely with division directors to provide direction and support as required to facilitate the effective and timely coordination of all budgets and forecast activities.
    • As part of the Strategic Support’s Finance Team develop and maintain OCYA’s budgeting and forecasting system to ensure timely and accurate information for internal analysis and executive decision making.
    • Leading the preparation of quarterly and annual financial statements for the OCYA and coordinating the year-end audit of financial statements. This position is a primary liaison between OCYA and the Office of the Auditor General.
    • Preparation of timely and accurate annual financial results of OCYA and for facilitating the accurate reporting of the audited financial statements in the OCYA’s Annual Report.
    • Establishing and managing OCYA's accounting processes to provide timely, consistent and accurate information to assist in meeting operational requirements. SLT members utilize accurately recorded financial data in making decisions impacting OCYA's operations.
    • Examining, analyzing and interpreting complex financial data and making recommendations for improvements to enhance the dependability/understandability of the financial data and ultimately the reliability of information used in financial statements.
    • Acting as an expert knowledge resource for opinions on expenditures, financial accounting matters, to ensure the accuracy of financial transactions recorded, appropriate financial disclosure and compliance with applicable legislation and controls.
    • Providing professional accounting services and leadership on financial issues to the OCYA division directors and finance staff by interpreting and explaining financial principles and standards.
    • Carrying out the Accounting Officer functions, as described in the Financial Administration Act, by acting as the back-up Accounting Officer for the OCYA.
    • Directing and evaluating performance of staff and manage allocation of work and time effectively.
    • Directing and assisting staff in conducting regular compliance reviews of expenditures and revenues to ensure compliance with legislation and policies.
    • Serving as a resource by providing financial and technical information and advice to various stakeholders involved in financial processes and ensuring that internal controls within the financial systems are established, maintained and continue to be effective.
    • Provide financial services, including the preparation of annual financial statements, to the Office of the Ethics Commissioner, through a shared services arrangement.
    • In the absence of the Director, Strategic Support, act on her behalf, providing leadership for finance, information technology, business planning, administration.

Specific Accountabilities

  1.

Budgets and Forecast Activities

  • Provide strategic advice and support to the divisional directors concerning the planning for and preparation of the division components of the OCYA’s annual budget, and the 3-year financial targets and business plan. This includes ensuring that financial resources are appropriately allocated to programs supporting Alberta’s most vulnerable children and youth.
  • Provide input into the preparation of various budget and expenditure scenarios for OCYA’s SLT members until a final budget target is approved by the Advocate for submission to Standing Committee on Legislative Offices. This is an ongoing 6-month review and approval process that typically starts in June and ends in November.
  • For the SLT members, prepare various budget scenarios until a final budget target is arrived at for submission to the Advocate and thereafter to the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices.
    • For SLT members and if applicable the Alberta Treasury Board and Finance budget officials, prepare expense and cost pressure explanation tables. This occurs as part of our budget submission at the start of the process and again at the end of the process when our final budget targets have been established.
    • For the Advocate and SLT members, prepare budget briefing materials related to assigned divisions for inclusion in the Budget Briefing Binders. The briefing material must include materials prepared in conjunction with program areas.
  • Provide strategic advice and support to the division’s directors concerning the planning and preparation of the OCYA’s quarterly forecast. Identify potential cost pressures and cost containment strategies for SLT consideration. Prepare forecast information for Alberta Treasury Board and Finance as well as forecast briefing material in the event the Advocate is required to attend the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices to support the OCYA’s financial position. This may include answering questions from members of the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices directly to provide clarification or additional information.
  • Prepare monthly briefing material for SLT regarding division’s fiscal update and outline any significant cost pressures and potential cost containment strategies.
  • Prepare supporting documentation for any Supplementary Estimates, which may result from the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices decisions taken after the submission of our Quarterly Forecast requirements. This material must be prepared and co-ordinated with officials from Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.
  • Perform an annual review of and make recommendations for changes to the OCYA’s Budget Structure (e.g. Program and Organization Coding required for the OCYA’s financial system). This activity involves obtaining input from division directors and preparing a proposal for the review and approval by SLT.
  • Participate in an annual review and update of the OCYA’s budget and forecasting policies and procedures to accommodate changes in Alberta Treasury Board and Finance budgeting, forecasting and reporting procedures. The changes must be incorporated into the OCYA’s planning process.
  • Key contact or liaison with the assigned divisions directors and program managers concerning the OCYA’s budget, forecast and other financial information required throughout the year.
  • Provide cover-off for the Director, Strategic Support.
     
  2.

Financial Statements and Reporting Activities

  • Develop and generate accurate, valid and timely information, analysis, reports and schedules required to prepare quarterly and year-end financial statements in conformance with established accounting principles and policies.
  • Designing, testing, enhancing and maintaining a financial statement reporting system (electronic layouts, schedules and notes) for OCYA. Ensuring integrity of program structure and financial data, adherence to applicable legislation and Canadian Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
  • Design and generate financial statement notes and schedules as part of the OCYA financial statements, along with detailed cross-referenced working papers.
  • Facilitate the accurate publishing/reporting of the audited financial statements in the OCYA’s Annual Report including designing, formatting, proof reading and communication with the Office of the Auditor General.
  • Coordinate the processing of accounting entries for the OCYA to ensure general ledger and subsidiary ledgers are maintained and complete.
  • Coordinate preparation of monthly reconciliations to ensure integrity and accuracy of financial statements.
  • Prepare, approve and analyze complex journal entries to ensure reasonableness (e.g. elimination entries, payroll accruals – vacation liability).
  • Provide variance analysis as required. Advise and explain financial statement adjusting transactions to Senior Management and other contacts.
  • Coordinate preparation of supporting schedules and working papers to validate the accuracy and integrity of the financial statement data in a format suitable for review by senior management and Auditor General Staff.
  • Investigate systems problems to ensure the integrity of the data and adherence to standards.
  • Liaise with auditors during the annual financial statement audit.
  • Create ad hoc reports to support data integrity of financial statements, and to identify transaction coding errors.
  • Identify internal control weaknesses and recommend corrective action.
  • Perform financial analysis on financial issues, program proposals.
     
  3.

Accounting Officer Activities

  • As Accounting Officer for the OCYA, authorize disbursements for all expenditure transactions prior to payment as per Financial Administration Act Section 38. Responsibilities include ensuring accuracy of charges, availability of funds and compliance with legislation and policies.
  • Ensuring that where there is potential non-compliance, appropriate action is taken to address the issue(s). Where an issue is determined of a sensitive nature or having a potential risk of fraud or error, apprise Senior Management of the issue and action to be taken. The actions taken to address non-compliance could include, but are not limited to, dealing directly with the Expenditure Officer, the employee incurring the expense or to his/her supervisor, as well as documenting the parameters under which the review was conducted, documenting the issues and actions taken.
  • Provide professional financial and management accounting support and advice to assist line areas in their decision making.
  • Develop and keep current all financial and contract policies for the OCYA. Ensuring that the policies align with legislation (e.g. Financial Administration Act, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy, Treasury Board Directives, accounting policies, Canadian Auditing Standards, etc., Agreement on Internal Trade and other trade agreements).
  • Address accountability of all Expenditure Officers by ensuring they carryout their legislated responsibilities.
  • Respond to queries from staff and from the Office of the Auditor General regarding financial issues.
  • Ensure that the Legal Appointments and Payment System (LAPS) that interfaces with IMAGIS is reconciled on a daily basis, and any errors are immediately addressed.
  • Ensure the integrity of financial information maintained within IMAGIS, the provincial financial system.
  • Perform post audit reviews of the various financial transactions and review internal controls for financial systems such as IMAGIS, ExClaim, EPS and resolve issues/problems.
  • Ensure that transactional errors identified through payment reconciliation processes are resolved on a timely basis.
  • Monitor accountable advances and initiate collection activities as required.
     
  4.

Review of Payroll Activities

  • Ensure that payroll transactions have been appropriately approved and comply with government and OCYA policies by sampling payroll transactions.
  • Ensure that the information coming from the payroll system is properly recorded in the General Ledger.
  • Ensure that employees are charged to the appropriate GL distributions (i.e. Dept. IDs, accounts, programs, funds and projects if applicable).
  • Ensure that overall monthly payroll is reasonable and investigate deviations.
  • Prepare and or review the bi-weekly payroll reconciliation.

Knowledge / Experience

 
  • The Senior Budget/Finance Officer requires extensive knowledge of financial management, including generally accepted accounting principles and internal controls, and their application in a large automated government environment. This is best achieved by an accounting diploma education or a university degree and supplemented by professional accounting training (e.g. CA, CGA, CMA) and at least four years progressively responsible budgeting, accounting and/or financial reporting experience. Equivalent combination of education and experience is considered.
  • The position requires a working knowledge of diverse programs and support functions and thorough knowledge of budgeting, forecasting and accounting functions. This position must have extensive knowledge of, and ability to interpret and apply financial legislation, policies and processes. Expert accounting knowledge is required to provide viable options and sound solutions to OCYA and other government entities. A superior understanding of Treasury Board policies and OCYA policies and procedures is essential to apply guidelines and ensure appropriate controls to support accuracy of information.
  • A very good understanding of the OCYA’s and Alberta government’s business planning, budgeting and forecasting processes from both an operational and strategic perspective. A good understanding of government and political approval decision-making processes is required. This knowledge is essential to provide advice and solutions from a financial and strategic perspective.
  • A good understanding of the Government of Alberta policies and procedures in all aspects of finance and the application of those policies in different circumstances. The function also requires both a balance between providing services and financial control, as well as sensitivity to the impact of decisions on the OCYA and the public.
  • A good understanding of the process for developing policies, being able to engage all levels of the organization to gain input, as well as conducting extensive research to support the OCYA’s financial and contract policies.
  • Requires a good understanding of financial systems used in large organizations as well as knowledge of business-related software such as PeopleSoft/IMAGIS, Excel, Word, and the OCYA’s management information systems.
  • Direct practical experience of OCYA programs is necessary. This will enable the Senior Budget/Finance Officer to plan and provide strategic direction and advice to the Director, Strategic Support and other senior management. It is also necessary to provide advice and general guidance to other staff regarding technical and financial policy issues, cost pressure and budgetary issues, the impact of central agencies (e.g. Alberta Treasury Board and Finance, and Office of the Auditor General) on complex and diverse practices, and on supervisory matters.
  • 4 to 5 years experience in progressively responsible positions within government or other large financial operation.
  • Experience within a large diversified service orientated financial operation including experience with large financial systems.
  • Experience dealing with program managers and senior managers concerning financial policy, funding and program related issues.
  • Supervisory experience.

Leadership and Business Know-How

 
  • The Senior Budget/ Finance Officer, on an on-going basis, requires considerable judgement and negotiation skills to influence others’ behaviour. For example, these skills are essential when planning and explaining the OCYA’s annual fiscal targets and forecast position and issues to senior managers and external parties such as Alberta Treasury Board and Finance officials.
  • Supervisory/management skills to manage a team of professionals and finance administrative support. Human relations management skills, including the ability to provide leadership and direction to, and get things accomplished through staff not under one’s direct supervision.
  • Strong team building and coaching skills to ensure business requirements are met.
  • Excellent communication skills, both verbal and written are required to achieve the necessary results. Have the ability to present various budget scenarios in a concise, yet persuasive manner to senior managers and the SLT members.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills are required to facilitate the resolution of funding and budgetary issues that arise throughout the fiscal year. This involves both discussions and negotiations with senior managers and Alberta Treasury Board and Finance personnel.
  • Excellent analytical and problem solving skills to help resolve budgetary and funding issues. This includes reviewing and costing new program initiatives and policies.

Problem Solving

 
  • The Senior Budget/Finance Officer has a broad general frame of reference and works towards functional objectives. There are considerable nebulous, intangible or unstructured aspects. Creativity and new approaches to resolve issues are required in many aspects of the duties because there are few, if any, precedents of past practices to follow. The job is very complex because it often involves situations requiring analytical, interpretive, evaluative and/or developmental thinking with few if any recurring precedents to look for assistance. Budgeting processes are never the same year to year.
  • The Senior Budget/Finance Officer receives direction towards the achievement of specified results from the Director, Strategic Support. Under her direction and guidance, will carry out the assigned work to achieve the desired results.
  • Due to the fluid nature of the OCYA business, public perception and political dynamics all strategic and even technical decisions must balance the short, medium and long-term goals of the OCYA. These goals are not always aligned and the executives must be presented with the information, analysis and options to make a balanced and informed decision.
  • The financial health of the OCYA is reliant on input through-out the OCYA organization; from program areas, divisions and the executives. This combined with the needs of internal and external stakeholders and the short timelines usually associated with the most critical of decisions, a balance must always be found to manage time, quality and resources to achieve the most optimal results possible.

Examples of more complex problems:

  • Coordinating information for OCYA Budgeting and Forecasting requirements on a timely and accurate basis can be very challenging, as the deadlines are very tight and must be met. Must be able to respond to these changes quickly and implement new requirements with minimal impact to the organization.
  • Identifying and helping to resolve funding and cost pressure issues with division directors can be very challenging as the time frames are very tight and the financial assumptions can be rather “soft”.
  • Researching and preparing special financial analysis and reports for the SLT, Advocate, Alberta Treasury Board and Finance is required on a frequent basis. The reports and data must be consolidated and presented in a very concise, clear and persuasive manner, as the audience is generally Senior Management.
  • Assisting with the preparation of the financial analysis and results for the Annual Report and the associated briefing material (e.g. potential impact statements, variance analysis, and potential questions and answers) for the SLT and Advocate. This activity must be managed on very tight time frames. The information must be accurate and presented in a very professional manner given the audience.
  • Identify cost pressures and associated cost containment strategies in conjunction with senior program managers can be complex and unique. New programs and significant program changes can result in extensive budget adjustments and complex analysis to arrive at reasonable cost estimates.

Relationships / Contacts

Clients Frequency Nature and Purpose of Contact
Internal

Senior Financial Officer, Director Strategic Support

Child and Youth Advocate, Senior Leadership Team members - to provide information, briefing material and budget scenarios related to budget preparation and revenue and expenditure reporting

Ongoing/Daily

The purpose of the dealings is to exchange information and provide advice and support concerning financial services including budgetary and forecasting issues, and financial policies.

Division Directors - to keep them informed on the status of their budget and finances expended year to date

Ongoing with a specific focus required during the monthly forecast process and annual budgetary process Budget requests, forecasting, analysis, advice, information requests and a variety of other financial and process reasoning. Contact with program areas is necessary to ensure a clear understanding of the impacts of the policy and programs.

Professional and administrative staff in branch (direct reports)

Daily To provide supervision and support.
External

Budget Officials from Treasury Board and Finance

Annually and as required Present OCYA's budgetary requirements in a concise yet persuasive manner in order to help secure the necessary resources during the budget cycle as well as during the quarterly forecast updates to Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.
Other Legislative Offices Ad hoc To address financial policy changes and to share ideas and strategies. To provide shared services as required (e.g. Office of the Ethics Commissioner - financial services).
Other government financial managers - to ensure communication on initiatives Ad hoc Information requests.
Officials from the Office of the Auditor General Annually and as required Information requests.

Impact and Magnitude of Job (Scope)

 
  • The Strategic Support Division must prepare the appropriate budgetary and forecasting information on a timely basis. The information must be very professional and persuasive for use by the SLT members and Advocate to secure the necessary resources for the OCYA.
  • The Strategic Support Division must ensure that forecast information is presented to the SLT members on an accurate and timely basis throughout the year if the OCYA is to meet its approved spending targets.
  • The majority of the financial material produced by this division is used by the SLT members and the Advocate as well as Senior Officials from Alberta Treasury Board and Finance and the Office of the Auditor General. This material must be written in an understandable style for audiences with varying financial understanding and expertise.
  • This division must prepare the financial statements and report its financial results in a timely manner. Incorrectly recorded financial results (i.e. using inappropriate accounting policies) can lead to overspending and to audit issues.
  • Knowledge of OCYA and appropriate legislation, policies, procedures, programs, structure and future strategies allows for the identification of issues, deficiencies and recommendations for corrective actions which directly impacts on the financial operations and financial reporting for the entire organization.
  • The position has a significant impact on the accuracy of the financial reporting and as a result would pose a risk of unfavourable observation by the Auditor General if inaccurate reporting were detected.
  • This position is responsible for the ensuring compliance with applicable policies and procedures designed to ensure the efficiency and accuracy of disbursement processes and systems within the organization. As the Accounting Officer, will evaluate on an ongoing basis financial and inherent risk and approve financial accounting transactions based on compliance with required legislation, policies and procedures.
  • The incumbent needs to readily identify the impacts of control deficiencies, and minimize the risk of errors that result in inappropriate use of funds and extensive time expended on error correction.

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