2014-2015 Annual Report - A Message from the Commissioners

We are pleased to present the 2014-2015 Annual Report of the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The mandate of the PSC is to promote and safeguard merit-based appointments and, in collaboration with other stakeholders, to protect the non-partisan nature of the public service. Under the delegated staffing system set out in the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), the PSC fulfills its responsibilities by providing policy guidance and expertise, conducting effective oversight, delivering innovative staffing and assessment services, and reporting to Parliament on the performance of the staffing system and non-partisanship in the public service.

For more than 100 years, non-partisanship has been a cornerstone in building and sustaining a professional public service. The PSC is committed to upholding the principle of political impartiality in the public service in accordance with the PSEA, which recognizes the right of public servants to engage in political activities, in a manner consistent with their responsibilities. We have a proactive program which provides guidance and tools to engage employees and help them make informed decisions about participating in political activities. The PSC has the sole authority to grant permission to employees who wish to seek elected offices at any level of government. The PSC grants permission only if it is satisfied that the employee’s ability to perform their duties in a politically impartial manner will not be impaired or be perceived as being impaired.

The PSC is also dedicated to working with departments and agencies to recruit and hire employees with the skills and competencies needed in an innovative and collaborative public service. We are encouraged by the commitment made in the Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Clerk of the Privy Council and Head of the Public Service, to reinvigorate recruitment. In concert with departments and agencies, the PSC conducted extensive promotion of recruitment at career fairs and information sessions across Canada. We are pleased to note that there was a 7.3% increase in student hires this year, and that hiring of post-secondary graduates also increased. However, the number and proportion of employees under the age of 35 continued to decline in 2014-2015. The PSC will pursue the monitoring of this demographic trend, which could have an impact on the future composition of the public service.

The PSC leveraged its expertise and technology to modernize its staffing and assessment services. These innovations provide significant benefits by increasing access to public service jobs and supporting more effective and efficient recruitment. For instance, we have expanded the use of internet-based testing which allows persons with disabilities to take exams in their homes using their own adaptive technologies. External and internal recruitment were also consolidated at jobs.gc.ca, providing applicants with a single portal through which they have access to all public service job opportunities. Other innovations, such as creating pools of available qualified candidates, allow organizations to use their resources more efficiently and to staff in a more timely manner.

Together with deputy heads, hiring managers and human resources advisors, the PSC has now accumulated nearly 10 years of experience with the fully delegated staffing system introduced in 2005. In that context, our approach to oversight has also evolved. Delegation agreements with deputy heads have been simplified. Monitoring based on self-assessment by organizations has been streamlined to reduce the reporting burden. The PSC also adapted its approach to auditing small and micro organizations to take into account the size, level of risk and the particular context of these organizations.

We believe that the staffing system is functioning effectively and continues to improve over time. As the staffing system and the capacity within delegated departments and agencies matures, the PSC needs to ensure that the staffing system responds effectively within a complex and rapidly changing environment. In 2014-2015, the PSC completed a comprehensive review of its policy and oversight frameworks and developed proposals to streamline requirements, ensure that oversight is calibrated to risk and simplify staffing to be more responsive to evolving demands. The PSC has engaged stakeholders on the proposals and is looking forward to continuing this dialogue in 2015-2016.

Achieving a high-performing public service requires that we build on the strengths of the staffing system and that deputy heads be fully enabled to exercise their authorities under the PSEA. Our oversight activities have demonstrated the overall integrity of the staffing system and we are confident that deputy heads and their organizations can manage and monitor their own staffing systems. In order to ensure that public service staffing remains merit-based and non-partisan, the PSC intends to devote greater efforts to reaching out to organizations through our policy guidance and advice and support services to enable them to customize their approaches to staffing based on their specific operational needs, staffing challenges, and related risks.

A modern, efficient and effective staffing system will help to ensure that the workforce of the future has the skills and competencies to deliver results for Canadians. We look forward to working in collaboration with Parliamentarians, as well as our partners and stakeholders, so that Canadians will continue to benefit from a professional and non-partisan public service.

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