Audit reports 2014-2015: 5 - Audit of Canadian Heritage
We concluded that Canadian Heritage had an appropriate appointment framework, practices and systems in place to manage its appointment activities. We found that Canadian Heritage had put in place a sub-delegation instrument that is accessible to all employees. The conditions that must be met by sub-delegated managers prior to exercising appointment authorities were established and the organization was able to demonstrate that these conditions had been met. We also found that Canadian Heritage had established measurable staffing plans and related strategies. Mandatory appointment policies and criteria for the use of non-advertised processes were also established and accessible to employees, sub-delegated managers and bargaining agents. We noted that sub-delegated managers were informed of their roles and responsibilities and had the support to carry out this role. Finally, we found that some monitoring activities were conducted and the results were reported to senior management.
We also concluded that most of Canadian Heritage’s appointments and appointment processes were compliant with the Public Service Employment Act, any other applicable statutory and regulatory instruments, the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Appointment Framework and the organization’s own appointment policies. We found that Canadian Heritage was able to demonstrate that the person appointed met the essential and asset qualifications and organizational needs established by the deputy head in 94% (33 out of 35) of the audited appointments. We noted that, in all of the audited appointments, a priority clearance number was obtained from the PSC before the appointment was made. We found that there is some room for improvement in the consistency and accuracy of information on requests for priority clearance as well as on advertisements, including the Statement of Merit Criteria, or notifications of consideration. This would help ensure that priority entitlements are respected, that persons with a priority entitlement are appropriately considered for the position being staffed and that potential candidates are provided with accurate information throughout the process.
Table of Contents
Audit of Canadian Heritage
5.1 This audit covers Canadian Heritage’s appointment activities for the period of April 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014. The first objective of the audit was to determine whether Canadian Heritage had an appropriate framework, practices and systems in place to manage its appointment activities. The second objective was to determine if appointments and appointment processes in Canadian Heritage complied with the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), any other applicable statutory and regulatory instruments, the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Appointment Framework, including the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument (ADAI) and the organization’s own appointment policies.
5.2 Canadian Heritage was created in June 1993. Its legislative mandate is set out in the Department of Canadian Heritage Act. Canadian Heritage’s mission is to promote an environment in which all Canadians take full advantage of dynamic cultural experiences, celebrate our history and heritage and participate in building creative communities. As of March 31, 2014, Canadian Heritage had 1 724 full-time equivalents in its workforce, most of whom worked in the National Capital Region and were of indeterminate status.
5.3 According to Canadian Heritage, several changes and challenges have had an impact on staffing in the organization during the period covered by our audit. As part of Budget 2013, Canadian Heritage became responsible for the Capital Experience functions from the National Capital Commission (NCC), which resulted in the transfer of more than 80 employees from the NCC to Canadian Heritage. In addition, as part of Budget 2014, the responsibility for the administration of the Online Works of Reference program was also transferred from the Minister of Canadian Heritage to the Canadian Museum of History, in addition to the responsibility for the Virtual Museum of Canada. Another challenge through this period was the ongoing placement of employees who were affected by the budget reduction related to Spending Review 2012.
5.4 The organization carried out 116 appointments during the period covered by our audit. As part of our audit, we conducted interviews with human resources (HR) professionals and sub-delegated managers involved in appointment activities, analyzed relevant documentation and audited a representative sample of 35 appointments.
Observations on the Appointment Framework
Sub-delegation of appointment authorities
5.5 The PSEA gives the PSC exclusive authority to make appointments to and within the public service. The PSC delegates many of its appointment and appointment-related authorities to deputy heads who, in turn, may sub-delegate the exercise of these authorities. The PSC expects deputy heads to have a sub-delegation instrument in place that is well managed and accessible across the organization.
5.6 Canadian Heritage was subject to the ADAI since its coming into force, granting the deputy head delegated appointment and appointment-related authorities. We found that the deputy head established a sub-delegation instrument and a policy on sub-delegation that lists roles and responsibilities of sub-delegated managers and terms and conditions of sub-delegation. These documents were accessible to employees on Canadian Heritage’s intranet site.
5.7 According to Canadian Heritage’s Sub-delegation of Human Resources Authorities, sub-delegated managers must commit in writing to respect the conditions of sub-delegation by signing a letter confirming their acceptance of sub-delegated authorities and must complete the mandatory training prior to exercising staffing authorities. We noted that Canadian Heritage also maintains a list that identifies individuals who have sub-delegated staffing authorities.
5.8 We found that all sub-delegated managers who signed offers of appointment had the appropriate level of sub-delegation and had signed a letter confirming their acceptance of sub-delegated authorities prior to exercising these authorities. In addition, we noted that all sub-delegated managers who signed offers of appointment had completed the required training prior to exercising their sub-delegated authorities.
Planning for staffing
5.9 Organizational staffing plans and related strategies describe organizational staffing priorities and how and when they will be achieved. The PSC expects deputy heads to establish staffing plans and related strategies that are measurable, approved and communicated to employees.
5.10 We found that Canadian Heritage established a “Resourcing Strategy for 2011-2015” with measurable staffing plans and related strategies. However, the organization was unable to provide evidence that these plans were approved and communicated to employees. We noted that Canadian Heritage completed an analysis between planned and actual staffing activities for 2012-2013 that identified variances, areas for improvement and recommendations to senior management. However, the organization was unable to demonstrate whether any action was taken following this analysis and the development of recommendations.
5.11 The PSC expects deputy heads to establish mandatory appointment policies for area of selection, corrective action and revocation, as well as criteria for the use of non-advertised processes. The PSC also expects the other appointment policies that organizations develop be compliant with the PSEA, any other applicable statutory and regulatory instruments, and the PSC’s Appointment Framework.
5.12 We found that Canadian Heritage established the mandatory appointment policies and criteria for the use of non-advertised appointment processes. Canadian Heritage’s mandatory policies were communicated and accessible to employees, sub-delegated managers and bargaining agents on the intranet site.
5.13 We noted that Canadian Heritage’s Policy on the Areas of Selection and Recourse included an exemption from the national area of selection (NAOS) for the Co-operative Education and Internship Program, although NAOS applies to all full-time student appointments. Canadian Heritage was informed of this discrepancy and plans to address it during the revision of their appointment policies, which is under way. Refer to recommendation 1 at the end of this report.
Capacity to deliver
5.14 The PSC expects deputy heads to ensure that 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.
5.15 We found that sub-delegated managers had access to various staffing tools, templates and publications on the organization’s intranet site to support the exercise of their sub-delegated authorities, including a staffing process project plan and an orientation guide for assessment board members.
5.16 We found that 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.
5.17 Although it is not a PSC requirement to document the advice provided by HR advisors, we noted that the advice that was documented and that we reviewed was compliant with the PSC’s Appointment Framework.
5.18 Monitoring is an ongoing process that allows deputy heads to assess staffing management and performance related to appointments and appointment processes. Monitoring makes it possible to identify issues that should be corrected to manage and minimize risk and to improve staffing performance. The PSC expects deputy heads to undertake the mandatory monitoring outlined in the PSC’s Appointment Framework, including the ADAI, and adjust practices accordingly.
5.19 Canadian Heritage conducted a monitoring activity of 17 staffing actions completed between April 1, 2012, and September 30, 2013 to identify issues requiring attention and to develop an action plan. Following the completion of this monitoring activity, a report on the findings was prepared and presented to the Branch Management Committee as well as the organization’s Human Resources and Business Services Committee and Executive Committee. The monitoring report included recommendations for improvements. Canadian Heritage also developed an action plan, with timelines, to address the issues identified in this monitoring activity. At the end of our audit, we found that the action plan developed in March 2014 was still in the process of being implemented. Refer to recommendation 2 at the end of this report.
5.20 Monitoring of the use of Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order was conducted by Canadian Heritage and reported to senior management. The mandatory monitoring of other risk-based policy areas such as acting appointments of over 12 months or appointments of casual workers to term or indeterminate status through non-advertised processes was not completed for the period covered by our audit. Canadian Heritage has indicated that mandatory monitoring for 2014-2015 will be completed in the summer of 2015 and that the results would be reported to senior management at that time.
5.21 In order to determine the reliability of Canadian Heritage’s electronic information, we conducted an analysis of Canadian Heritage’s HR database. We found that Canadian Heritage’s HR database was sufficiently accurate to produce reliable information regarding appointment processes.
Observations on appointments
Appointments – Merit
5.22 The PSEA requires that all appointments be made on the basis of merit. Merit is met when the Commission is satisfied that the person to be appointed meets the essential qualifications for the work to be performed, as established by the deputy head and, if applicable, any asset qualifications or organizational needs identified by the deputy head.
5.23 We found that Canadian Heritage demonstrated that the person appointed met the essential and asset qualifications and organizational needs established by the deputy head in 94% (33 out of 35) of the appointments audited.
5.24 While merit was demonstrated in almost all of the appointments reviewed, the following section provides additional information, in the interest of promoting understanding and learning, on two appointments where the essential qualifications or the asset qualification were not fully assessed before the appointment was made. In one instance, the narrative assessment of the appointee did not contain sufficient evidence to demonstrate how the appointee met one of the essential qualifications and the asset qualification used to make the appointment. In the other instance, one of the essential qualifications was not included in the narrative assessment and, consequently, was not assessed. With regard to the latter, the sub-delegated manager prepared another narrative assessment that included an assessment of the essential qualification in question as a corrective measure. The Appendix includes tables detailing our observations concerning merit for the appointments audited.
Appointments – Other requirements
Persons with a priority entitlement
5.25 The PSEA and the Public Service Employment Regulations provide an entitlement for certain persons who meet specific conditions to be appointed in priority to others. The organization must take into consideration persons with priority entitlements prior to making appointments and must also obtain a priority clearance number from the PSC before proceeding with an appointment process or an appointment.
5.26 We found that, in all of the audited appointments, a priority clearance number was obtained from the PSC before the appointment was made. In some instances, the priority clearance was not obtained before proceeding with the appointment process. This audit observation highlights a need for the PSC to clarify its expectations of how this policy requirement should be implemented.
5.27 In three audited appointments, we found there were differences in the essential qualifications used in the request for priority clearance and those used to make the appointment. For example, four essential qualifications used in the request for priority clearance were different in the Statement of Merit Criteria (SMC) that was used to make the appointment. We also found that in one appointment, there was no evidence to demonstrate that priority referrals were assessed prior to making the appointment. Such situations could have resulted in persons with a priority entitlement not being appropriately considered. Refer to recommendation 3 at the end of this report.
Information on appointment processes
5.28 The PSC’s Policy on Advertising in the Appointment Process and Policy on Official Languages in the Appointment Process require that information be provided to allow persons in the area of selection to make an informed decision and that the information concerning appointment processes is communicated in both official languages, when required.
5.29 We noted that in 72% (21 out of 29) of the appointments audited, the information available to candidates was sufficient to allow them to make an informed decision. However, we found that in 28% (8 out of 29) of the appointments audited, the English and French versions of the advertisement were not identical. In one instance, the English version identified for the position stated: "Experience in dealing with on-line applications and in using word processing software, DATA ENTRIES and spreadsheets", while the French version stated: "…Expérience dans un environnement de traitement de demandes en ligne et dans l’utilisation de logiciels de traitement de texte et de chiffrier électronique". Consequently, the English version of the advertisement required more elements than the French version. Inaccurate information in an advertisement, including the SMC, could have had an impact on the decision of potential candidates to apply. Refer to recommendation 4 at the end of this report.
1. The deputy head of Canadian Heritage should review the organization’s Policy on Areas of Selection and Recourse to ensure it is compliant with the PSC’s Appointment Framework.
2. The deputy head of Canadian Heritage should ensure that the organization continues to perform monitoring and adjust its staffing practices accordingly.
3. The deputy head of Canadian Heritage should ensure that the essential qualifications used for the appointment decision and those used to request priority clearance are the same.
4. The deputy head of Canadian Heritage should ensure that information on advertisements, including the SMC, or on notifications of consideration provided to potential candidates, is the same in both official languages.
Overall response by Canadian Heritage
Canadian Heritage welcomes favourably the observations presented in the 2014-2015 audit report from the Public Service Commission (PSC). Even though there are some improvements to be made, we are pleased with the results and we would like to thank our employees, both human resources advisors and sub-delegated managers, for their collaboration and excellent work.
Our department is in agreement with the conclusions presented in the audit report. Following the recommendations of the PSC, an action plan has been developed with concrete undertakings to ensure that relevant changes are made within a reasonable timeframe. These changes will ensure that we remain in compliance with the legislative and regulatory requirements, including the Appointment Framework. That being said, Canadian Heritage has already made the required changes to the Policy on Areas of Selection and Recourse.
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 Canadian Heritage'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.
The Commission has also noted that audit observations highlight a need for the PSC to clarify its expectation of how the policy requirement to obtain a priority clearance before proceeding with an appointment process should be implemented and is committed to address this finding.
|Merit was met
|Assessment tools or methods evaluated the essential qualifications and other merit criteria identified for the appointment; the person appointed met these requirements
|Merit was not met
|The person appointed failed to meet one or more of the essential qualifications or other applicable merit criteria identified
|Merit was not demonstrated
|Assessment tools or methods did not demonstrate that the person appointed met the identified requirements
|Total appointments audited
Source: Audit and Data Services Branch, Public Service Commission
|Reasons for merit not being met or demonstratedFootnote *
|Number of incidences
|Appointee did not meet one or more essential qualifications (experience, knowledge, abilities, competencies, personal suitability)
|Appointee did not meet the official language proficiency
|Appointee did not meet the education/occupational certification or qualification standard
|Appointee did not meet the additional qualifications (asset and/or organizational needs) used to make the appointment
|The essential qualifications (experience, knowledge, abilities, competencies, personal suitability) of the appointee were not fully assessed
|The official language proficiency of the appointee was not fully assessed
|The education/occupational certification or qualification standard were not fully assessed for the appointee
|The additional qualifications (asset and/or organizational needs) used to make the appointment were not fully assessed
Source: Audit and Data Services Branch, Public Service Commission
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