Audit reports 2014-2015: 14 - Audit of the Farm Products Council of Canada
The first objective of this audit was to determine whether the appointment authorities the Public Service Commission (PSC) has delegated to the deputy head of the Farm Products Council of Canada (FPCC) were adequately managed. We concluded that some key components of the PSC’s Appointment Framework were in place. A policy on the sub-delegation of human resources (HR) authorities and the policies required by the PSC were in place. We also found that those who have been assigned a role in appointment processes were informed of their roles and responsibilities and had access to tools and the HR support to carry out this role. Furthermore, we found that the FPCC had not put an appointment sub-delegation instrument in place and that in practice it was using the service provider’s instrument. The service provider’s instrument did not refer to the FPCC employees. Consequently, it was not possible to confirm the appointment authorities that had been sub-delegated to them.
The second objective of the audit was to determine whether the FPCC’s appointments complied with the Public Service Employment Act, the Public Service Employment Regulations, the PSC’s Appointment Framework and the FPCC’s own organizational policies with regard to merit and priority entitlements. We concluded that the appointments were generally compliant with these requirements. In all eight appointments audited, the FPCC was able to demonstrate that the person who was appointed met the essential and asset qualifications established by the deputy head. In some cases, we noted that the requirements of PSC and organizational policies on area of selection had not been met. We found that persons with a priority entitlement were considered before appointments were made.
Table of contents
Audit of the Farm Products Council of Canada
14.1 Since its creation in 1972, the Farm Products Council of Canada (FPCC) has authorized the establishment of national marketing boards for farm products. On behalf of the Government of Canada, the FPCC ensures that Canadians have affordable, ongoing access to the food that they need, while maintaining fair market prices for farmers. The FPCC is located in the National Capital Region and had 18 employees as of September 30, 2014. The FPCC did not have its own human resources (HR) unit but had a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) for its HR operations, including staffing. The FPCC remained responsible for the appointments made within the organization, even though it used a staffing service provider.
14.2 The audit covers the FPCC’s appointment activities for the period between November 1, 2012, and October 31, 2014. As part of this audit, the Public Service Commission (PSC) conducted interviews with the members of the service provider’s HR team and with a FPCC sub-delegated manager. The PSC also analyzed relevant documentation and audited two advertised and six non-advertised appointments.
Observations on the management of delegated appointment authorities
PSC expectation: The PSC delegates many of its appointment authorities to deputy heads who, in turn, may sub-delegate the exercise of these authorities. As a result, the PSC expects the organization to have a sub-delegation instrument in place that is well managed and accessible across the organization.
14.3 During the period covered by the audit, we found that the FPCC’s deputy head had put in place a policy on the sub-delegation of HR authorities and policies on corrective measures and revocation, non advertised appointment processes and area of selection. These policies were accessible to the four sub-delegated managers and the other employees.
14.4 We also found that the FPCC had not established an appointment sub-delegation instrument and, in practice, was using the service provider’s instrument. While many elements of the service provider’s instrument were transferable to the FPCC, we found that the levels of delegation set out in that instrument did not match the FPCC’s organization chart. In addition, the instrument applied only to employees occupying a position within the service provider’s organization and did not refer to the FPCC employees. Consequently, it was not possible to confirm the staffing authorities that applied to the FPCC employees while they made decisions in that area.
14.5 As indicated by the FPCC representatives, in order to be sub-delegated authorities at a certain level, a person must have completed the required training, received a sub-delegation letter from the deputy head and signed the letter to confirm their acceptance of the sub-delegated authorities.
14.6 We found that two out of the four sub-delegation letters were not dated when they were signed by the deputy head and the sub-delegated managers. Consequently, it was not possible to confirm the date on which the appointment authorities had been sub-delegated to those managers. In addition, one out of the four sub-delegated managers was sub-delegated appointment authorities before completing the training on sub-delegation of staffing authorities, which did not fulfill the deputy head’s requirements. The FPCC representatives indicated that the person concerned had subsequently completed the required training and had not exercised any appointment authorities in the interval.
PSC expectation: Those who have been assigned a role in appointment processes have been informed of their roles and responsibilities and have access to tools and the HR support to carry out this role.
14.7 Sub-delegated managers had access to the tools and support required to fulfill their HR obligations and they had been informed of their roles and responsibilities, with the exception of the sub-delegated staffing authorities, at the time they signed the sub-delegation agreement with the deputy head.
14.8 We also found that, through the MOU with their service provider, the FPCC’s sub-delegated managers had access to an HR advisor who had passed the PSC’s Appointment Framework Knowledge Test. This test is designed to evaluate knowledge of all parts of the PSC’s Appointment Framework (policy, delegation and accountability) and the legislative framework.
Observations on appointments
PSC expectation: Appointees meet the essential and asset qualifications required for the appointment. The PSC’s and organizational policy requirements on area of selection and criteria for non-advertised appointments are met.
14.9 We found that, for the eight appointments audited, the FPCC demonstrated that the person who was appointed met the essential and asset qualifications established by the deputy head. In addition, the audited appointments met the PSC’s and FPCC’s policy requirements on the criteria for non-advertised appointments.
14.10 In some cases, we noted that PSC and organizational policy requirements on area of selection had not been met. In one case, the area of selection used “Employees of AAFC who occupy a position in the National Capital Region” did not include the FPCC and, in two other cases, the notice regarding the acting appointment had not been posted. In April 2015, in response to the audit observations, the FPCC posted the notice for the acting appointment that was still in effect.
PSC expectation: Persons with a priority entitlement are considered prior to making an appointment and a priority clearance number is obtained before proceeding with an appointment process or appointment.
14.11 We found that, in both the appointments that required it, persons with a priority entitlement were considered prior to the appointment being made (i.e., a priority clearance number was obtained from the PSC before the appointments were made). We did not examine whether the FPCC had obtained a clearance number before proceeding with the appointment process, as both appointments were made before this requirement was articulated in the PSC’s Priority Appointment Policy and related directive.
Overall response by the Farm Products Council of Canada
The Farm Products Council of Canada (FPCC) analyzed the Public Service Commission audit report and agrees with the observations and proposed recommendations.
More specifically, the FPCC supports the findings of the report and the recommendations concerning the staffing sub-delegation management framework and area of selection. An action plan was prepared by the FPCC management in response to the audit report observations and recommendations.
Action taken by the Public Service Commission
Organizations that have been audited by the Public Service Commission (PSC) receive guidance and assistance from the PSC to develop an action plan that will address the audit recommendations. The PSC systematically reviews audit information, the organization’s management response and associated action that it has taken or will take in response to the audit recommendations to determine whether any action should be taken by the PSC. As a result of this review, the PSC is satisfied with Farm Products Council of Canada’s management response and the actions it has taken or has committed to take to address the audit recommendations. The PSC expects the deputy head to monitor the implementation of the organizational action plan and the PSC may request an update on the action plan. The PSC can provide assistance for this implementation, as required.
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