Appearance Before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP) Briefing with the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Secretary of the Treasury Board - March 9, 2021

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Opening statement and presentation

In this section

1. Opening remarks for the Secretary of the Treasury Board to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP)

Ottawa
March 9, 2021
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Thank you for the opportunity to be here. I am joined by Roch Huppé, who serves as the Comptroller General.

I aim to be as brief and direct as I can.

This is an important dialogue. The Treasury Board Secretariat accepts the Auditor General’s spring 2018 report and Michael Ferguson’s accompanying commentary. We also accept and have worked in the context of this committee’s recommendations.

I will focus on three areas of reform, each consistent with this committee’s recommendations and the Auditor General’s observations.

First, the Treasury Board and the Secretariat have improved the policies and directives which guide deputies and other senior decision-makers. They are available publicly and are consistent with practices in other governments and private sector institutions.

There are new standards for IT projects:

  • gating and peer review, including through the Enterprise Architecture Review Board which reviews major projects prior to investment
  • line of sight for the Chief Information Officer of Canada into major IT projects by departments

The Comptroller General also established new standards for project management:

  • Senior Designated Officials / Project Sponsors to clarify lines of accountability
  • concept cases that define what problems or opportunities are being addressed, and how the digital principles can be applied
  • competency profiles that define and clarify technical and leadership competencies required for project leaders

Further, there are new standards for human resources to help deputies better manage their accountabilities.

  • The policies on people management and management of executives, implemented in April 2020, include the ability to deploy executives, adjust performance ratings and recover performance pay retroactively.

It is early days for these reforms, and the realities of 2020 and 2021 impair data collection and broader assessments. We will continue to monitor and adjust.

The policies and data will be useful, but we remain acutely mindful of the need for actual impact, which is my second theme.

Project leaders are now applying reformed methodologies in real-world projects, including those to reform income support, immigration, and the NextGen of HR-to-Pay systems.

These projects are focused on:

  • agility/outcomes
  • smaller steps and interim corrections
  • better partnerships with vendors and integrators

There is evidence of early success. Employment and Social Development Canada was able to leverage agile methodologies to quickly stand up the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB). The NextGen HR-to-pay project features agile, inclusive, and iterative implementation strategies with minimal initial investment and carefully managed financial risk exposure.

While “agile” is jargon, it is also a real and important approach to limiting risk and coping with shifts in technical and implementation capabilities over the lifespan of big and complex projects. Our progress in this regard was noted in the Auditor General’s recent report on major IT procurements.

Third, and most important in my view, is the focus on culture change. This relates to the Auditor General’s well-articulated concerns regarding a “culture of obedience” and the need for substance, not only form.

Important steps taken include:

  • New, Clerk-mandated project governance at the enterprise level, including the deputy minister (DM) committee on core services and DM committee on enterprise planning. These are among the first serious efforts at Government of Canada (GC)–wide sharing of IT planning, implementation, and project management experience in real time and at the most senior levels.
  • New use of internal audit resources to verify progress, fact-check assumptions in project management – providing decision-makers with an informed, trusted and direct source of information on project status and outcomes.
  • Learning from our experiences during the pandemic. These include a new-found responsiveness and ability to implement at warp speed, shown by the CERB and other benefit programs – mindful of real security and integrity risks, and a need to maintain process and document coherence.

In sum:

  • There are better policies and processes in place – and we are monitoring to see real world impacts. Any short-term signals will, though, be clouded by the realities of 2020 and 2021.
  • Project leaders are showing full effort and progress by doing – agility and outcomes are at the forefront. Training and knowledge transfer are occurring through the Canada School of Public Service.
  • Deputy and leadership accountability are clarified. Standards for peer and central agencies’ oversight are improved. There should be a much better understanding of who is in charge and who is watching.
  • Public servants remain focused on giving best advice to ministers regarding do-ability and the interaction among policy objectives, IT capacity, resources and time.

There is nothing here to be taken for granted and no claim of success. But I believe we are making progress in a difficult context.

The Comptroller General and I welcome your questions.

2. Overview of the Committee (PACP) and invitation

Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP)

Mandate of the Committee

When the Speaker tables a report by the Auditor General in the House of Commons, it is automatically referred to the Public Accounts Committee. The Committee selects the chapters of the report it wants to study and calls the Auditor General and senior public servants from the audited organizations to appear before it to respond to the Office of the Auditor General’s findings. The Committee also reviews the federal government’s consolidated financial statements – the Public Accounts of Canada – and examines financial and/or accounting shortcomings raised by the Auditor General. At the conclusion of a study, the Committee may present a report to the House of Commons that includes recommendations to the government for improvements in administrative and financial practices and controls of federal departments and agencies.

Government policy, and the extent to which policy objectives are achieved, are generally not examined by the Public Accounts Committee. Instead, the Committee focuses on government administration – the economy and efficiency of program delivery as well as the adherence to government policies, directives and standards. The Committee seeks to hold the government to account for effective public administration and due regard for public funds.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3) of the House of Commons, the mandate of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts is to review and report on:

  • the Public Accounts of Canada
  • all reports of the Auditor General of Canada
  • the Office of the Auditor General’s Departmental Plan and Departmental Results Report
  • any other matter that the House of Commons shall, from time to time, refer to the Committee

The Committee also reviews:

  • the federal government’s consolidated financial statements
  • the Public Accounts of Canada
  • makes recommendations to the government for improvements in spending practices
  • the Estimates of the Office of the Auditor General

Other responsibilities:

  • the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of government administration
  • the quality of administrative practices in the delivery of federal programs
  • government’s accountability to Parliament with regard to federal spending
Committee members
Chair
Kelly Block Conservative Carlton Trail–Eagle Creek PACP member and Chair since October 2020
Vice-Chair
Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph PACP member and Vice-Chair since February 2020
Maxime Blanchette-Joncas Bloc Québécois Rimouski-Neigette–Témiscouata–Les Basques

PACP member and Vice-Chair since February 2020

Public Accounts Critic

Members
Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic–L’Érable

PACP member since October 2020

TBS Critic

Philip Lawrence Conservative Northumberland–Peterborough South

PACP member since October 2020

National Revenue Critic

Len Webber Conservative Calgary Confederation PACP member since October 2020
Matthew Green New Democratic Party Hamilton Centre

PACP member since February 2020

TBS Critic

Kody Blois Liberal Kings–Hants PACP member since February 2020
Greg Fergus Liberal Hull–Alymer

PACP member since May 2019

Parliamentary Secretary TBS and Digital Government

Francesco Sorbara Liberal Vaughan–Woodbridge PACP member since February 2020
Jean Yip Liberal Scarborough–Agincourt PACP member since January 2018
Report on the Message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports (Public Service Culture)
Meeting summaries

Thursday, February 4, 2021 (in camera): It was agreed that the committee invite the Secretary of the Treasury Board and the Clerk of the Privy Council to appear before the committee for one hour regarding the committee’s 52nd report of the 42nd Parliament entitled Report on the Message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports to provide it with further follow-up regarding the three recommendations in the report.

The Committee invited the Secretary and the Clerk of the Privy Council to appear on March 9, 2021, for one hour.

43rd Parliament

The Committee has not met on the Report on the Message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports since June 2018.

2nd session

As of February 23, 2021, there have been 20 meetings of the committee.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021: The Secretary of the Treasury Board appeared alongside the Deputy Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) and the Office of the Auditor General on Report 4, Oversight of Government of Canada Advertising, of the 2019 Spring Reports.

  • Overall, the meeting was polite and professional, and members were very engaged in their questioning with officials.
  • Members from the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC ), Bloc Québécois (BQ) and New Democratic Party (NDP) were concerned with official languages requirements in Government of Canada advertising standards.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021: The Comptroller General appeared along with the Deputy Minister of Finance, and the Auditor General on the Public Accounts of Canada 2020.

  • The tone was cordial, and members stayed on topic.
  • Mr. Maxime Blanchette-Joncas (BQ) repeatedly raised concerns after the Auditor General indicated that 51% of a sample of public servants had experienced pay issues during the 2019–20 fiscal year.

1st session

There were five meetings of the committee.

On March 12, 2020, officials from the Office of the Comptroller General (OCG) provided the committee with a general briefing.

42nd Parliament

2019 Spring Reports of the Auditor General

Thursday, June 14, 2018: Auditor General’s Report on Building and Implementing the Phoenix Pay System (Auditor General, TBS (Secretary of the Treasury Board), and PSPC)

Treasury Board and PSPC appeared along with the Auditor General to discuss Report 1, Building and Implementing the Phoenix Pay System. The Auditor General highlighted that Phoenix was an incomprehensible failure of project management and underscored significant issues such as: the elimination of essential functions of the system; elimination of pilot projects in order to respect budgets; and going forward when departments and the Pay Centre flagged that they were not prepared. The Secretary of the Treasury Board emphasized the new role of the Chief Information Officer to strengthen governance processes in his opening remarks. The Secretary agreed that there are possibilities to improve the accountability regime such as the number of executives involved, the capacity of the government for removals, legislative change for removal of executives that fail to perform, and the option to recover performance pay if gross mismanagement is discovered. The Secretary also highlighted the importance of communication and indicated that the government is looking at ways to ensure it is a critical element in decision-making. The issue of accountability was a key focus of the Members’ questions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018: Briefing on the Message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports (Clerk of the Privy Council)

The former Clerk of the Privy Council, Mr. Michael Wernick, appeared before PACP on the Message from the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports. Mr. Wernick expressed that he did not agree with the observations by the Auditor General and commended the hard work of the public service. The issue of silence in terms of major issues in the public servants was raised throughout the meeting. The Committee was concerned with the level of oversight and accountability and how to avoid another major project failure like Phoenix.

Interest in TBS / MDGO Portfolio

Conservative

  • The former Chair (Kevin Sorenson) made an overall comment to the committee that public servants have written to him to express that they agreed that the culture needs to be fixed.
  • Decisions and approval processes required for major IT projects (ADM, DM, Minister)
  • Whistle-blower issues in public service culture
  • Risk-averse public service, more encouragement for innovation
  • Reporting results from Performance Management Agreements
  • Accountability issues in the public service (including consequences for executives responsible for Phoenix)
  • Concerns about lack of information being briefed to the Minister level

Liberal

  • Concerns with the amount of approval processes for public servants
  • Decisions and approval processes required for major IT projects (ADM, DM, Minister)
  • Accountability issues in the public service (including consequences for executives responsible for Phoenix)

Bloc Québécois

  • Nil: The party were not members of the Committee in the 42nd Parliament

New Democratic Party

  • Expressed disappointment in the unwillingness from the Clerk to accept the report
  • Checks and balances for major IT projects

Other relevant parliamentary activity

  • November 19, 2018: Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP): Report 53 – Report 1, Building and Implementing the Phoenix Pay System, of the 2018 Spring Reports of the Auditor General of Canada
  • October 24, 2018: Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP): Report 52 – Report on the Message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports
    • March 19, 2019: Government Response
    • May 30, 2019: Response to Recommendation 2, received from the Treasury Board Secretariat, of the Committee’s fifty-second (52nd) report entitled: Report on the Message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports
  • June 20, 2018: Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (NFFN) – Federal Estimates, Public Accounts, Phoenix (the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Secretary of the Treasury Board):
    • identifying who has the oversight function of major IT projects in the government (role of the Chief Information Officer)
    • interest in diversity and inclusion in the workforce
    • performance indicators and accountability for deputy ministers
    • fundamental governance
  • June 16, 2017: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO ) – Report 9 – Strengthening the Protection of the Public Interest within the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
    • Recommendation 9: The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer of the public service regularly assess the culture of disclosure and the fear of reprisals in the public service by notably recording the frequency of perceived wrongdoing and reported wrongdoing, and evaluating the level of confidence of public servants in the protection and effectiveness of the internal reporting mechanism, and publicly release the information collected and the findings.
    • October 16, 2017: Government Response
    • February 25, 2021: The Committee readopted the report and requested another government response.
  • February 14, 2017: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) – Review of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada and Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal):
    • witnesses identified a “great and valid fear of reprisal” in the public service
    • all members expressed concern over public service culture and the ability to improve whistle-blowing processes
  • February 7, 2017: Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) – Review of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (Treasury Board):
    • all members expressed concern over public service culture and the ability to improve whistle-blowing processes
      • Mr. Kelly McCauley (CPC) pulled quotes from CBC News’ articles on Phoenix which featured public servants speaking on condition of anonymity
    • suggested including questions about public service culture and the ability to come forward with issues in the Public Service Employment Survey

Kelly Block (Saskatchewan: Carlton Trail–Eagle Creek): Conservative (Chair)

Kelly Block
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament in 2015 for Carlton Trail–Eagle Creek, previously for Saskatoon–Rosetown–Biggar from 2008 to 2015.
  • Served as vice-chair on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament.
  • Member of the Liaison Standing Committee.
  • Previous member of the Standing Committee of Government Operations and Estimates in the 43rd and 41st Parliament, the Standing Committee of Finance in the 40th Parliament.
  • Served as the Opposition critic for Public Services and Procurement Canada (appointed by Andrew Scheer).
  • Prior to her election, Mrs. Block served two terms as the first female mayor of Waldheim, Saskatchewan, as chairperson of the Gabriel Springs Health District, and was awarded the Maclean’s Parliamentarian of the Year – Rising Star – Award in June 2010.

Lloyd Longfield (Ontario: Guelph): Liberal (First Vice-Chair)

Lloyd Longfield
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Guelph in 2015.
  • Former member of the Public Accounts Committee (PACP) in the 43rd Parliament and is a standing Member of the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee (ENVI).
  • Former Executive Director of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce, and former business executive.

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas (Quebec: Rimouski-Neigette–Témiscouata–Les Basques): Bloc Québécois (Second Vice-Chair)

Maxime Blanchette-Joncas
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for Rimouski-Neigette–Témiscouata–Les Basques in the 2019 federal election.
  • BQ Critic for Public Accounts.
  • Preceded in his riding by Guy Caron who served as the leader of the NDP from 2017 to 2019.
  • Business Administration graduate from the University of Quebec in Rimouski and former administrative officer at the Business Development Bank of Canada.
  • Was regional president of the Youth Forum of the Bloc Québécois.

Luc Berthold (Mégantic–L’Érable): Conservative member

Luc Berthold
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for Mégantic–L’Érable in 2015.
  • Critic for Treasury Board.
  • Previously the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
  • Prior to his election, Mr. Berthold was Nathalie Normandeau’s Political Assistant, and communications advisor for the Leader of the Official Opposition in 1999, the Interim Director of communications for Quebec’s Liberal Party in 2006, and worked as a speaker, coach and gave leadership training sessions.

Philip Lawrence (Northumberland–Peterborough South): Conservative member

Philip Lawrence
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Northumberland–Peterborough South in the 2019 federal election.
  • Shadow Minister of National Revenue.
  • Former member of Standing Committee of Justice and Human Rights.
  • Prior to his election, Mr. Lawrence received his BA from Brock University in Political Science, he attended Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of business to obtain his law degree and MBA and volunteered at the Financial Planning Standards Council.

Len Webber (Calgary Confederation): Conservative member

Len Webber
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Calgary Confederation in 2015.
  • Former Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Health in the 42nd Parliament.
  • Previously a member on the Standing Committee on Health, the Subcommittee on Sports-Related Concussions in Canada of the Standing Committee on Health and the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure of the Standing Committee on Health.
  • Prior to his election, Mr. Webber was a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, representing the constituency of Calgary-Foothills from 2004 to 2014, worked as an apprentice electrician and managed his own contracting company for 10 years, and served as vice president and director of the Webber Academy, a private, non-profit school in southwest Calgary for children from junior kindergarten to Grade 12 founded by his father.

Matthew Green (Ontario: Hamilton Centre): NDP member

Matthew Green
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for Hamilton Centre in the 2019 federal election in the riding formerly held by NDP MP David Christopherson.
  • NDP Critic for National Revenue / Canada Revenue Agency, Public Services and Procurement.
  • Former Councillor for the City of Hamilton (2014 to 2018).
  • Member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP), the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO), and the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
  • Member of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association and the Canadian Section of ParlAmericas.

Kody Blois (Kings-Hants): Liberal member

Kody Blois
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Kings–Hants in the 2019 federal election, in the riding formerly held by former TBS President Scott Brison.
  • Current member of the Standing Committee for Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food.
  • Former member of the Standing Committee for Agriculture and Agri-Food, and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
  • Blois completed degrees in commerce, law, and public administration, which sparked his interest in serving his community.

Greg Fergus (Hull–Aylmer), Liberal member: Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government

Greg Fergus
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Hull–Aylmer in 2015.
  • Member of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
  • Former member of the Standing Committee on Finance, and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
  • Current and former Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government. Former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
  • Former National Director of the Liberal Party of Canada and former political staffer in various ministerial offices.

Francesco Sorbara (Vaughan–Woodbridge): Liberal member

Francesco Sorbara
  • Elected as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Vaughan–Woodbridge in 2015.
  • Member of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.
  • Former member of the Standing Committee on Finance, as well as the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure of the Standing Committee on Finance, and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
  • Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue.
  • Sorbara is a chartered financial analyst and worked in the global financial markets for nearly 20 years in both Canada and the United States for Scotiabank, JPMorgan Chase, and global credit rating agency DBRS.

Jean Yip (Scarborough–Agincourt): Liberal member

Jean Yip
  • First elected in a by-election on December 11, 2017, as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Scarborough–Agincourt.
  • Elected in 2019 as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Scarborough–Agincourt.
  • Current member of the Special Committee on Canada-China Relations.
  • Former member of the Public Accounts committee, and the Government Operations and Estimates Committee.

PACP Invitation

Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Via email

February 22, 2021

Peter Wallace
Secretary of the Treasury Board

Dear Mr. Wallace:

I am writing to you on behalf of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (the Committee), regarding motions it adopted at a meeting on February 4, 2021. The Committee would like to follow  up with you on issues raised in its previous reports and has asked me to invite you and Mr. Ian Shugart, Clerk of the Privy Council, to appear on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Please see the motion below:

It was agreed, — That the committee invite the Secretary of the Treasury Board and the Clerk of the  Privy Council to appear before the committee for one hour regarding the committee’s 52nd report of  the 42nd Parliament entitled Report on the Message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports to provide it with further follow-up regarding the three recommendations in the report.

Regarding the motion, the Committee is looking for information on the following:

  • What is the status of the Government of Canada’s “review of its accountability regime and performance management program for executives,” that was expected to be completed in February 28, 2019 (as communicated to the Committee in February 2019)?
  • What new and specific measures have been implemented to address “gross mismanagement or other serious discrepancies,” as stipulated in Recommendation 1?
  • Have there been any changes in the way Senior Executives (DM-01/equivalents and above) are compensated, including at-risk pay and bonuses? Are there changes to how  a department’s performance management framework affects Senior Executive compensation?
  • How are large, complex projects (especially IT projects) better managed today than they were in 2018? What specific improvements have been gained with the creation of the Project Sponsor role?

The Committee welcomes the opportunity to hear from both of you regarding these very important  matters.

Sincerely,

Kelly Block, M.P., Chair

3. 52nd report: Report on the message of the Auditor General in the 2018 Spring Reports

[Redacted: The content of this section is published material and can be viewed at Committee Report No. 52 - PACP (42-1) - House of Commons of Canada (ourcommons.ca).]

4. Message from the Auditor General of Canada from 2018 Spring Reports

Key extracts

  1. Why did no one realize the project would fail? Why did no one stop and fundamentally reassess the project? The only explanation is that there were fundamental failures of project management and project oversight.
  2. A pertinent fact about these two very different incomprehensible failures – Phoenix and Indigenous programs – is that both have been passed on from government to government.
  3. How could Phoenix have failed so thoroughly in a system that has a management accountability framework; risk management policies; program evaluations; internal audit groups; departmental audit committees; accounting officers; departmental plans; departmental performance reports; pay-for-performance compensation; and audits by the Office of the Auditor General?
  4. Our Phoenix audit didn’t answer that question because sometimes a traditional audit can’t get to the cause of a failure. That’s the purpose of this message – to explore the cause of incomprehensible failures in government.
  5. Summary:
    1. project executives were to blame for the project failures
    2. the Deputy Minister who was in place when the system was launched is accountable for the failure that happened on his watch
    3. the former government is accountable for not having built an appropriate oversight mechanism into the project
    4. and the current government is accountable to Parliament for the decision to launch the system. The current government is also responsible for fixing the problem, a fix that will have an incremental cost of more than $1 billion and will take years.
  6. In the current culture, the two perspectives are out of balance, with the political perspective being dominant. Because of the dominant political perspective, there has been an erosion of deputy minister influence. Two signs of this are the short tenure of deputy ministers and the increased influence of ministerial staff.
  7. Ministers and public servants have different views about program implementation. To a Minister, the announcement of a new program is action – implementation is detail. To a deputy minister, a program announcement is just the beginning. A deputy minister knows that successful implementation will take a lot of diligent work, perhaps over years.
  8. A large cadre of ministerial political staff give policy advice to the same ministers that deputy ministers are responsible for advising, so it’s harder for a deputy minister to be heard. This means that it’s easier for a deputy minister to just implement the will of the Minister without question rather than provide fearless advice on the pitfalls that could arise and how to avoid them. This is how deputy ministers keep the trust of their ministers, and keep whatever influence they have. The result is an obedient public service that tries to eliminate risk and mistakes, which of course is not possible, so it has to try to avoid responsibility for those mistakes.
  9. My short description is that the culture has created an obedient public service that fears mistakes and risk. Its ability to convey hard truths has eroded, as has the willingness of senior levels – including ministers – to hear hard truths. This culture causes the incomprehensible failures it is trying to avoid.
  10. The first step has to be to describe the current culture, which I have attempted to do, although I may not have captured everything. The second step is to admit that the culture problem is real and that it urgently needs to be fixed.
  11. The silver lining is that while there is a culture problem, the recent public service survey shows that the average public servant wants the culture to change, and wants to work in a culture that focuses on results for people.

Message from the Auditor General of Canada in the 2018 Spring Reports

[Redacted: The content of this section is published material and can be viewed at Message from the Auditor General of Canada (oag-bvg.gc.ca).]

5. Government Response

[Redacted: The content of this section is published material and can be viewed at Government Response - 8512-421-463 - House of Commons of Canada (ourcommons.ca).]

Recommendations

In this section

6. Response to Recommendation 2 (TBS)

[Redacted: The content of this section is published material and can be viewed at Government Response - 8512-421-463 - House of Commons of Canada (ourcommons.ca).]

7. Status of the Government of Canada’s review of its accountability regime and performance management program for executives

Issue

The Public Accounts Committee has asked for the status of the Government of Canada’s “review of its accountability regime and performance management program for executives, that was expected to be completed on February 28, 2019 (as communicated to the Committee).” The review was ongoing at the time the Committee released its report and it was not expected to be completed by February 28, 2019.

Key facts

  • In late 2018, the government launched an extensive review of its accountability regime for executives.
  • In summer 2019, the Treasury Board (TB) approved a new policy suite on people management, which resulted in a 75% reduction in policy requirements and a higher focus on outcomes and accountability.
  • On April 1, 2020, TB brought into force the new Policy on People Management and Policy on the Management of Executives as part of its new accountability regime.
  • TBS launched a program evaluation of the Executive Performance Management Program (EXPMP) in early 2019. The findings from the evaluation are expected in spring 2021 and will inform a renewal of the EXPMP.

Response

  • The Government of Canada strives to build an agile, inclusive and equipped public service that is better able to meet the demands of an ever-changing world.
  • To support the transformation of the public service for the work of tomorrow, the Government of Canada is making enhancements to its management policies and programs. These enhancements help to clarify what is expected of deputy heads and their officials and set out how compliance will be monitored.
  • On April 1, 2020, the new Policy on People Management and Policy on the Management of Executives came into force as part of the government’s new accountability regime.
  • In addition to simplifying and clarifying the responsibilities of deputy ministers, heads of human resources, executives and their managers, the new Policy on the Management of Executives adds mandatory requirements to the government’s performance management program to support fair and consistent executive performance and talent assessments, and learning and development plans.
  • The government has also examined other public and private jurisdictions’ use of performance management and pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.
  • We launched a program evaluation of the Executive Performance Management Process in early 2019. We are expecting the findings from this evaluation to be available in spring 2021, which will inform a renewal of the program.
  • These and other changes set the foundation for supporting a healthy and productive workforce poised to take on the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Background

TBS’s Policy Suite Reset set the stage for the government’s review of its accountability regime for executives:

  • Accountability is weakened when rules are complex, and responsibilities are delegated without specific reference to tasks or positions.
  • To hold public servants accountable for their performance in fulfilling responsibilities, it must be clear, through the Treasury Board’s management policies, who is charged with doing what.
  • Due to a growing number and complexity of policy requirements, Policy Suite Reset was launched to simplify and streamline the mandatory policy instruments which contain rules for management in the federal public service.
  • The goal of this Policy Suite Reset was to have rules with clear accountabilities, that are easy to find and easy to monitor.

There are three components to the accountability regime review.

  1. Stronger people management policies
    • In 2018 and 2019, TBS examined the TB’s set of people management policy instruments.
    • TB has rationalized the people management policy suite from over 1,500 people management requirements across 38 policy instruments to fewer than 400 requirements across 2 policies and 21 directives.
    • In addition to clarifying the responsibilities of deputy ministers, heads of human resources, executives and their managers, the review resulted in adding the following mandatory requirements to the government’s performance management program:
      • Deputy heads must establish a review mechanism to ensure fair and consistent performance and talent assessment of executives.
      • Managers must establish learning and development plans for executives.
      • Managers must complete annual talent assessments for executives.
  2. Environmental scan
    • TBS examined other jurisdictions’ (public and private) use of performance management, performance pay, and other terms and conditions of employment, including France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, and several provinces.
    • The Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX) survey of executives provided insight on the process and principles of the EXPMP; the feedback executives are receiving on their performance; and perspectives on performance ratings and performance pay.
  3. Program Evaluation
    • In parallel to the environmental scan, TBS launched a program evaluation of the EXPMP in early 2019. The program evaluation involved interviews, a jurisdictional scan and direct qualitative research.
    • The findings from the evaluation are expected in spring 2021 and, along with the environmental scan, will inform a renewal of the EXPMP.

8. Measures to address gross mismanagement and discrepancies

Issue

PACP Committee members want to know what the government has done to address “gross mismanagement or other serious discrepancies,” as stipulated in Recommendation 1 from the committee’s 52nd report.

Key facts

  • The Secretary appeared at PACP on June 14, 2018, and said, “There also may be an opportunity to look at the potential to recover any performance pay, or in particular, pay at risk that may have been granted in error.”
  • Effective April 1, 2020, Treasury Board added a new provision to the Policy on the Management of Executives that deputy heads could retroactively revise an executive’s performance rating and performance pay due to breaches of conduct and mismanagement.

Response

  • The government is committed to instilling a culture of openness and agility within the public service, which emphasizes innovation and experimentation to better deliver our programs and improve services to Canadians.
  • The Treasury Board has measures in place to ensure employees at all levels adhere to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. In addition, all executives are required to demonstrate the Key Leadership Competencies which outline the behaviours expected of them.
  • A breach of these values may result in disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment.
  • Deputy heads can also manage the broad spectrum of executive performance through the Performance Management Program for Executives.
  • The government has revised the Policy on the Management of Executives to allow deputy heads to retroactively revise an executive’s performance rating and performance pay when it has been determined that they intentionally hid or misrepresented their achievements, or committed breaches of conduct or mismanagement.
  • Our goal is to drive excellence and organizational results while supporting a high-performing and agile executive community that adheres to the highest standards.

Background

Effective April 1, 2020, TB added a new provision to the Policy on the Management of Executives that deputy heads could retroactively revise an executive’s performance rating and performance pay when it has been determined, following due process, that an executive:

  • sought to hide or misrepresent their achievements such that any deficiencies would have been difficult to detect at the time of assessment,
    or
  • committed breaches of conduct or mismanagement that would have had such a negative effect that they would have received a lower rating than was originally provided

These measures may also be retroactively applied to executive performance pay that was awarded prior to the coming into force of the Policy on the Management of Executives on April 1, 2020, based on the facts of individual cases.

As well, the government has taken recent actions to improve the internal disclosure regime.

Compensation and culture

In this section

9. Compensation of executives in the core public administration

Issue

The Treasury Board has the authority to set the terms and conditions of employment for executives in the public service, including compensation. Salary ranges for federal government executive positions in the core public administration (CPA) have not been revised since April 1, 2017.

Key facts

  • With the last approved collective agreement in February 2021, the Government of Canada has now reached tentative or signed agreements extending to 2021 covering over 87% of public servants in the CPA and separate agencies.
  • In 2019, the total compensation of executives at the lowest executive level (EX-01) ranked at the 32nd percentile within the Canadian labour market (that is, salaries for executives at this level were higher in 68% of the organizations in that market sample), and at the 49th percentile within the broader public sector market segment.
  • The difference with the market for higher CPA executive levels (that is, assistant deputy ministers) is much wider: in 2019 the total compensation of executives at the highest executive level (EX-05) ranked at the 12th percentile within the Canadian labour market, and at the 28th percentile within the broader public sector market segment.

Response

  • The public service of Canada has maintained an international reputation for excellence. Canadians have high expectations of their public service, and public servants take pride in providing programs and services efficiently and effectively.
  • Our executives have driven the response to the pandemic to support Canadians in a timely fashion, while assisting the workforce in adapting to new technologies and virtual collaboration across jurisdictions.
  • Compensation decisions by the Treasury Board are guided by the principles of external comparability, internal relativity, performance and affordability.
  • The decision regarding salary adjustments for executives for 2018 onward is under consideration.

Background

As the employer of all employees in the core public administration, the Treasury Board has the authority to set the terms and conditions of employment for executives. Compensation decisions by the Treasury Board are guided by the principles of external comparability, internal relativity, performance and affordability.

The Government of Canada has now reached tentative or signed agreements extending to 2021 covering over 87% of public servants in the CPA and separate agencies. These agreements include, for the majority of groups, economic increases and wage adjustments in 2018–19 (2.8%), 2019–20 (2.2%), 2020–21 (1.5%) and, with some bargaining agents, 2021–22 (1.5%).

The last salary range increase for federal public service executive positions was effective April 1, 2017, and stood at 1.25% for that year.

10. Performance management agreements for executives in the core public administration

Issue

Administration of the Performance Management Program and Performance Pay for Executives in the core public administration (CPA).

Key facts

  • Performance-based compensation for executives in the CPA is based upon successful achievement of performance expectations during the previous performance cycle.
  • Incentive plans that reward executives for the delivery of expected results are common among Canadian private and public sector organizations.
  • In 2019, the total compensation (including performance pay) of executives at the lowest executive level (EX-01) ranked at the 32nd percentile within the Canadian labour market (that is, salaries for executives at this level were higher in 68% of the organizations in that market sample), and at the 49th percentile within the broader public sector market segment.
  • The difference with the market for higher CPA executive levels (that is, assistant deputy ministers) is much wider: in 2019 the total compensation of executives at the highest executive level (EX-05) ranked at the 12th percentile within the Canadian Labour market, and at the 28th percentile within the broader public sector market segment.

Response

  • The public service of Canada has maintained an international reputation for excellence. The people of Canada have high expectations of their public service, and public servants take pride in providing programs and services efficiently and effectively. Performance pay is an effective tool in helping the public service to achieve results for the people of Canada.
  • Performance commitments are established to support government priorities and provide the quality of service the people of Canada expect and deserve.
  • Executives in the core public administration are eligible for performance pay when they meet the commitments outlined in their annual performance agreements and demonstrate the Key Leadership Competencies.
  • Performance pay includes at-risk pay that must be re-earned each year and a bonus for truly exceptional performance.
  • Executives who do not meet expectations are not eligible for performance pay.

Background

The Performance Management Program for Executives is designed to:

  • strengthen performance by setting clear objectives and rigorously evaluating the achievement of results and the demonstration of the Key Leadership Competencies
  • recognize and reward performance
  • provide a framework within which a consistent and equitable approach to performance management can be applied

Performance-based compensation for executives may take the form of in-range salary movement, at-risk pay and bonus, all upon successful achievement of performance expectations during the previous performance cycle.

An in-range salary movement is an increase to the executive’s base salary within and up to the maximum of the position’s salary range.

At-risk pay and the bonus are lump sums must be re-earned each year. A bonus is only awarded for truly outstanding performance. Executives whose performance does not meet expectations are not eligible for in-range movement, at-risk pay or a bonus.

Decisions on the amounts of performance pay are all at the discretion of deputy heads within the parameters prescribed by the Treasury Board terms and conditions of employment for executives.

Deputy heads must operate within their departmental reference levels when awarding performance pay under the oversight of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Departments and agencies in the core public administration are required to report to TBS on performance award administration and provide performance pay data for most government executives. TBS publishes these aggregate results on the web.

When an executive’s performance does not meet expectations, the executive’s manager must develop a performance improvement action plan to address the performance issues that led to this assessment.

Deputy heads have the authority under the Financial Administration Act to demote or terminate employment, including executives, for a variety of reasons, including non-performance.

In addition to the Executive (EX) Group, several other occupational groups in the public service are eligible for performance pay (for example, HR professionals, senior medical officers and employees in the Law Management Group).

Federal agencies are separate employers and establish their own performance pay policies under the authority of the deputy head for the organization.

11. FI (Financial Management) professional development

Issue

The Government of Canada has implemented a number of initiatives, tools and resources to support professional development of its Financial Management (FI) community.

Key facts

  • The Government of Canada, through the Office of the Comptroller General (OCG), plays an active leadership role in the financial management community.
  • The Financial Management Community Development within OCG also continues to raise the profile of financial officers and their important work in supporting the stewardship of public funds.
  • Programs, events and activities are offered on a regular basis and promoted to FI community members to network with other finance professionals and acquire new knowledge and skills.

Response

  • The Government of Canada is committed to building a high-performing Financial Management Community through recruitment and outreach, talent management, and professional development initiatives.
  • The government strengthens its Financial Management function by providing information, tools and resources, and an online and social media presence to recruit the best candidates and promote professional development opportunities.
  • The OCG will remain active in nurturing financial management talent in the government at all levels. At the executive levels, the OCG will continue to provide career advice and mentoring to Chief Financial Officers and support deputy heads in their role as accounting officers.

Background

The Office of the Comptroller General at Treasury Board Secretariat remains active in the comptrollership communities, often seen delivering or participating in recruitment and development initiatives. OCG expertise is also recognized at various events, as regular contributor at learning events held by the Financial Management Institute and government-wide conferences with chief financial officers and deputy chief financial officers.

In November, the Financial Management Community Development team within OCG built an online and social media presence as an additional resource to existing and new FI community members. Within the first 3 months of the website launch, there have been more than 10,000 page views and LinkedIn followers have increased to almost 4,000. And these numbers are growing.

The OCG represented the Government of Canada on the Canadian Council of Comptrollers, which provides an opportunity for Comptrollers’ offices to work together in developing a common understanding of significant issues and promote knowledge of emerging accounting standards.

OCG also worked also with CPA Canada and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy to improve the delivery of training programs for the financial community.

The OCG provides entry-level, intermediate and advanced development programs designed to help individuals progress in their careers, and recently expanded on these options with two new additions, the Advanced Financial Officer Development Program and Next Generation Deputy Chief Financial Officer.

The Comptroller General of Canada supports deputy ministers in their role as Accounting Officers by maintaining a strong financial community through recruitment and development activities; development of policy and guidance; expert support in addressing emerging financial management issues; and, active participation at DM-level governance committees. Specific activities include:

  • establishment of education requirements for the chief financial officers (CFOs) and formal competency requirements for financial officers
  • collective recruitment across government, including EX-04/EX-05 CFOs staffing processes
  • development of integrated training and development program, including for the next generation of CFOs and deputy CFOs
  • leading an annual Government of Canada–wide talent management review of Financial Management executives

12. Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act review

Issue

In 2017, recommendations for legislative amendments to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act were made by the Government Operations Committee. Questions have been raised recently on the efforts undertaken to date to improve the internal disclosure regime, and the committee readopted its report and has requested a government response.

Response

  • The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act helps to sustain an ethical workplace culture and supports the integrity of the federal public sector.
  • We are committed to promoting a positive, respectful and safe public sector culture that is grounded in values and ethics, where public servants feel safe to come forward to disclose wrongdoings.
  • In its response to the report in 2017, the government committed to make improvements to the administration and operation of the internal disclosure process and the protection from acts of reprisal.
  • This work has included:
    • developing guidance, tools and learning events, to support deputy heads and designated senior officers for internal disclosure in carrying out their functions provided for under the act
    • improving reporting to provide a fuller picture of how the disclosure regime is operating and how public servants view it, by gathering disaggregated data with respect to disclosure activities
    • providing a single window to access initiatives and resources related to health and wellness, inclusion and diversity, to support public servants, managers and organizations in creating respectful, safe, healthy, diverse and inclusive workplaces
  • The committee has since re-tabled its report, and the government will respond in due course.

Background

In June 2017, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates tabled its report on their independent review of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. The report contained 15 recommendations covering issues such as the definition of terms, training, protection of whistle-blowers, research and assessments.

In October 2017, the government committed to implement improvements to the administration and operation of the internal disclosure process and to protection from acts of reprisal. The government did not commit to legislative amendments, given the complexity of the act and consultation required.

On February 17, 2021, the Government Operations Committee adopted a motion by Conservative MP Kelly McCauley to readopt the 2017 report and request a government response.

On February 25, 2021, the Chair of the Government Operations Committee presented the report to the House of Commons, and requested that the government table a comprehensive response to the 2017 report. It is anticipated that the President of the Treasury Board will be invited to appear before the Committee to provide an update on the actions that have been taken by the government in response to the recommendations.

The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer is leading the implementation of activities in support of these commitments. More generally, a number of actions have been taken to foster an environment where public servants feel safe and protected to come forward, including: conducting outreach and education activities to inform public servants about the disclosure of wrongdoing process and protection against acts of reprisal:

  • establishing a Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace, helping implement the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace
  • establishing a Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, providing public servants with a platform for engaging with these issues and conducting research and analysis
  • taking steps to address harassment and violence in the workplace, including providing guidance to deputy heads, managers, departmental advisors and public servants on what constitutes harassment as well as how to prevent and resolve harassment in the workplace
  • introducing changes to the Policy on People Management and the Policy on the Management of Executives, which better support an ethical workplace culture in which public servants feel safe to come forward without fear of reprisal

In addition to:

In 2019, 71% of employees knew where to go if they were living an ethical dilemma, but only half felt they could file a recourse of any kind without fear of reprisal.

  • In addition, for the first time this year, we will be collecting information through the Management Accountability Framework related to actions taken by organizations to foster a positive culture of values and ethics, in accordance with the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.

13. Diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in the public service

Issue

The Government of Canada recently announced its priorities to promote diversity and inclusion in the public service.

Key facts

  • Diversity, inclusion and accessibility are key priorities for the Government of Canada, as reinforced in this past fall’s Speech from the Throne, in recent mandate letters, which identify commitments to increase representation for under-represented groups, and in the Clerk of the Privy Council’s Call to Action on anti-racism, issued in January.
  • Overall, the representation of women, Indigenous peoples and members of visible minorities in the public service is above their workforce availability estimates. Further analysis also shows underrepresentation in the employment equity subgroups. Representation of persons with disabilities is below workforce availability, but there are initiatives in place to hire more people from this group.
  • Women and members of visible minorities are represented at the executive level above their executive workforce availability, while persons with disabilities and Indigenous people at the executive level are below the respective executive workforce availabilities. The public service is working to improve its leadership development in order to increase representation of Indigenous employees and other employment equity designated groups in senior leadership.
  • As of March 2019, 16.7% of public servants identify as a member of a visible minority, of which 19% are Black. In January 2018, the Prime Minister announced that the government would recognize the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent (2014–25) and commit to addressing systemic anti-Black racism in Canada. Recently, the government established an Anti-Racism Secretariat at Canadian Heritage, which has developed an Anti-Racism Strategy for all of Canada.

Response

  • Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is broad and deep. It is reflected in Ministers’ mandate letters, in the establishment of an Anti-Racism Secretariat and Strategy, in the appointment of a Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, and in the creation of both the Office for Public Service Accessibility and a Centre on Diversity and Inclusion at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
  • Today, the public service broadly reflects the workforce availability of three out of four employment equity groups. But we cannot ignore the fact that racism and systemic barriers are an everyday reality for Black Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and people of colour.
  • The public service must not only reflect the population it serves, but also offer an opportunity for all employees to express their full potential.
  • The government recently announced several key initiatives dedicated to diversity and inclusion. This includes improving our disaggregated data collection and analysis and sharing it with unprecedented transparency.
  • Departments, supported by the Treasury Board Secretariat, will work to increase diversity among senior leaders of the public service and establish a culture of inclusiveness that will combat racism and address systemic barriers.
  • This includes increasing representation through promotion and recruitment and the introduction of the Mentorship Plus Program to allow departments to offer mentoring and sponsorship opportunities to high-potential employees who may currently face barriers.
  • The government has also initiated discussions with key stakeholders about the framework for recruitment in the public service and is specifically looking at possible amendments to the Public Service Employment Act.
  • Throughout, public servants from equity-seeking groups to help co-develop initiatives to address barriers and create a culture change towards greater diversity and inclusion.

Background

The work of building a representative public service is a concerted effort that must be taken across the enterprise, given that these responsibilities are held by many organizations with different areas of influence and control. To name a few:

  • the Clerk sets out expectations and appoints deputy heads
  • the Public Service Commission administers the Public Service Employment Act and delegates to deputy heads the authority to appoint public servants
  • Treasury Board sets the policy frame for the core public administration, and sets terms and conditions of employment
  • the Treasury Board Secretariat collects and researches data and supports senior executive talent management
  • Minister Tassi is responsible for the Employment Equity Act and sets the definition of equity-seeking groups for all federally regulated organizations

The Employment Equity Act has provided impetus for progress on increasing representation of the four employment equity designated groups in the public service in the last two decades. But as our focus shifts to a broader definition of diversity, more needs to be done.

Recent events, such as the upsurge in the Black Lives Matter movement and how COVID‑19 pandemic has disproportionately affected equity-seeking groups, have highlighted inequities and further underscored the importance of promoting inclusion.

The Federal Black Employee Caucus (FBEC) has advocated strongly for disaggregated data and initiatives to increase the executive representation of Black employees. FBEC’s recommendations and the steps being taken in the public service are aligned with the recommendations of the previous reports, such as the Many Voices, One Mind report on Indigenous representation and the Final Report from the Joint Union/Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in the Public Service.

In Budget 2018, the government announced funding for a Centre for Wellness, Inclusion and Diversity in the public service. This launched in June 2019 and rebranded itself as the Centre on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) in October 2020, after funding was announced in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement. CDI’s resources will continue to support the evolving diversity and inclusion agenda in the public service, and the wellness component will be handled by the Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace.

14. Communications with and services to the public and language of work

Issue

Certain internal and external communications of the Government of Canada during the pandemic have either not been in both official languages or contained translations of poor quality.

Key facts

  • The Commissioner of Official Languages issued a statement on April 23, 2020, indicating a spike in the number of complaints received relating to the Official Languages Act and calling on the government to respect official languages obligations in its communications, particularly given the importance of communicating health and safety information to Canadians in both official languages.
  • In his 2019–20 Annual Report, published at the end of September 2020, the Commissioner further highlighted the shortcomings noted at the beginning of the pandemic in terms of compliance, especially those cases where important information was published in only one official language.
  • Throughout the pandemic, some official language minority community stakeholders and minority media have criticized the federal and provincial governments for their shortcomings with regards to official languages obligations.
  • On October 29, 2020, the Commissioner of Official Languages published his report on the impact of emergency situations on official languages.

Response

  • Respecting official languages is not only an obligation for the Government of Canada, it is integral to the effectiveness of our response to the pandemic.
  • The government must communicate with, and provide services to, Canadians in both official languages if their safety and health is to be protected, and we must ensure that official languages are used in federal workplaces.
  • Throughout the crisis, officials have taken proactive steps to ensure official languages are respected, and upon learning of issues, have responded clearly by underscoring obligations under the Official Languages Act and highlighting the link between these obligations and an effective pandemic response.
  • TBS will continue to work closely with federal partners so that the rights and needs of Canadians and public service employees are protected in these unprecedented times.

Background

On March 31, 2020, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) brought together persons responsible for official languages of federal institutions, stressing the importance of ensuring that statements, instructions and information be in both official languages at all times during the pandemic.

The Commissioner of Official Languages issued a statement on April 23, 2020, highlighting the need for official languages to be respected in times of crisis, especially where the health and safety of Canadians are concerned:

Canadians must be able to understand messages directed to them from all federal institutions, particularly in the current context. Beyond the Official Languages Act, it’s a matter of respect and safety for all Canadians. I have therefore communicated with all deputy ministers and with official languages champions across federal institutions to remind them of the importance of meeting their obligations to communicate with the public and their employees in both official languages at all times in order to ensure the respect and security of all Canadians.

In response, during a meeting of the National Managers’ Community on May 4, TBS reminded more than 350 managers across the public service of their official languages obligations.

TBS brought together persons responsible for official languages of federal institutions again on May 29, 2020, and stressed the importance for them to ensure that statements, instructions and information be in both official languages at all times.

In addition, in June 2020, OCHRO posted on the Canada.ca COVID‑19 website guidance for public servants on how to work remotely and hold virtual meetings in both official languages.

Furthermore, the Chief Human Resources Officer and the President wrote to their respective counterparts in institutions to remind them of the importance of respecting language of work rights and their impact on responding effectively to the pandemic.

15. New Treasury Board Directive on Harassment and Workplace Violence

Issue

The Treasury Board Secretariat’s support for departments in combatting harassment and workplace violence

Key facts

  • The Treasury Board Secretariat released a new directive in December 2020 in line with recent changes to the Canada Labour Code that apply to all federally regulated workplaces.
  • This comprehensive directive requires departments to better prevent and respond to harassment, and to provide support to those affected by harassment and violence in the federal public service. It also requires departments to investigate, record and report all complaints of harassment and violence in their organizations.
  • Many departments are reporting that they have implemented key elements of this new directive in their organizations, including updating their departmental policies and processes to receive new complaints and identifying new training for employees.

Response

  • The Government of Canada is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive public service that is free of harassment and violence where all employees are treated with dignity, respect and fairness.
  • To strengthen the policies that keep our employees safe and to ensure that harassment and violence is not tolerated, condoned or ignored in the federal public service, the Treasury Board Secretariat has released a new directive on the prevention and resolution of workplace harassment and violence, in line with recent changes to the Canada Labour Code that apply to all federally regulated workplaces.
  • I find it particularly important that the new directive insists on prevention, training, and speed in resolving complaints, and ensuring that support services such as ombuds-type functions and the Employee Assistance Program are in place.
  • We continue to work closely with bargaining agents to promote a positive, safe and healthy work environment across our workplaces and to build a diverse, inclusive and accessible public service.
  • This new directive, along with other initiatives, including the recently announced Centre on Diversity and Inclusion, are among the important changes that we are making in the federal public service to support all public servants, including the most vulnerable.

Background

In accordance with the Canada Labour Code, Part II: Occupational Health and Safety, federally regulated employers, including the public service, must protect the health and safety of their employees. In the federal public service, this falls under the responsibility of each deputy head.

The Canada Labour Code was amended in 2018 to strengthen the existing framework for the prevention of harassment and violence, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in federally regulated workplaces.

To support these amendments, new stand-alone Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations were created to streamline the harassment and violence provisions and make it easier for employers and employees to identify their rights and duties as they are contained within one set of regulations separate from all others.

A key element of the regulations requires employers to jointly develop a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy with their applicable partners (policy or workplace health and safety committees). The regulations also specify mandatory elements to be included in such policies.

To this end, OCHRO has developed a new Directive on the Prevention and Resolution of Workplace Harassment and Violence to support organizations in meeting their legislative obligations. This directive applies to the more than 80 departments and agencies in Schedules I and IV of the Financial Administration Act, the employees of which are employed by the Treasury Board.

The main objectives of the directive are to:

  • prevent occurrences of workplace harassment and violence by providing an integrated healthy, safe and respectful workplace free from all forms of harassment and violence
  • ensure workplace harassment and violence occurrences are addressed promptly, with sensitivity, with fairness and with an emphasis on informal, early resolution, as appropriate
  • and ensure that support services such as ombuds-type functions and Employee Assistance Program are in place and provide information on medical, psychological or other support services

OCHRO continues to provide extensive advice and guidance to organizations to help combat workplace harassment and violence in the federal public service, including developing a policy template to support departments to update their policies, developing training on harassment and workplace violence in collaboration with the Canada School of Public Service and conducting regular information sessions with the occupational health and safety community, labour relations advisors, harassment coordinators and bargaining agents.

16. Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector

[Redacted: The content of this section is published material and can be viewed at Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.]

Governance and project management

In this section

17. Project management competencies

Issue

As projects in the public service become more complex, new knowledge and skills and more agile and transformational approaches are needed to respond to this complexity.

Key facts

  • A new project management competency framework was established in 2020 to identify the knowledge and skills required to successfully deliver projects in today’s environment. The framework was designed in consultation with Senior Designated Officials (SDOs) responsible for project management across the government and leveraged existing departmental competency frameworks from more mature project departments.
  • The competency framework establishes the foundation for learning and development needs.
  • Treasury Board Secretariat is also actively exploring certification and professional development options aligned to the competency framework to meet the President of the Treasury Board’s 2019 mandate commitment to improve the Government of Canada’s capability to manage projects.

Response

  • The Government of Canada recognizes that projects have become more complex, requiring agile approaches with a focus on outcomes.
  • The government has responded to this complexity by developing a project management competency framework, in consultation with government departments and stakeholders.
  • This framework leverages best practices and presents a consistent approach to build capacity in this field across the public service. It also provides project sponsors with a tool to ensure that project managers have the knowledge and skills for the successful delivery of projects in today’s environment.

Background

Through collaborative efforts with the project management community, a suite of project management competencies was developed that include technical competencies that are foundational (project requirements management, project scope management, project schedule management, project cost management); strategic (project integration management, project communications and information management, project stakeholder management, project quality management, governance, benefits management) and specialized (project resources management, project risk management, project procurement management).

The competency suite supports the role of the Senior Designated Official within each department and agency in identifying and addressing needs, with respect to acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills in project management.

In addition, it provides project sponsors with a tool to ensure that project managers have the required competencies to manage the relative complexity, risk and materiality of projects.

The competency framework encourages project managers to take charge of their career by developing project management competencies which can be used as a tool to clearly establish learning needs, knowledge requirements and performance objectives.

Hiring managers, human resource advisors and classification advisors can also use the competency framework to establish job qualifications, identify competency gaps that may exist and develop staffing strategies.

Through recent surveys, the government is continuing to get a better understanding of the federal project management community with a view to helping departments actively manage the project management community and prepare for the future:

  • The survey revealed that 49% of project managers leading major projects meet both qualification requirements in terms of 5 years of experience and project management certification.
  • A broader demographic study was conducted in 2020 across 11 federal government departments and agencies in order to better understand and serve the community. In comparison to the core public administration (CPA), this study revealed that 39.6% of project management positions are occupied by women, whereas 55.1% of the positions across the CPA are occupied by women. As well, 43.3% of the project management resources identified are 50 years or older in comparison to the CPA at 33.4%.
  • A list of community practitioners has been developed in order to help departmental Senior Designated Officials manage their departments’ project management capacity and to help the government more accurately target professional development efforts.

18. Requirements under the Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments

Issue

The Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments provides added rigour to how projects and programmes are managed within the Government of Canada, with a focus on leadership and decision-making.

Key facts

  • The Government of Canada launched the new investment planning and project management policy suite on April 11, 2019, which sets the direction for the planning and management of assets and acquired services.
  • Key changes from previous policy include:
    • Emphasis on three key leadership roles to better support the planning and management of projects and programmes – the deputy head, the senior designated official for project management, and the project sponsor.
    • For high-risk projects and all programmes, the policy requires the appointment of senior official (assistant deputy minister, or equivalent) as the sponsor. For all high-risk projects over $100 million, appointment letters for sponsors signed by the deputy head are required.
    • For digital projects additional requirements were introduced, including the submission of a concept case to TBS for review by the Chief Information Officer of the Government of Canada.

Response

  • The Government of Canada introduced a policy suite in 2019 to strengthen how projects and programmes are managed, with a focus on leadership and decision-making.
  • The Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments and its supporting directive underscores three key leadership roles for organizations – the deputy head, the senior designated official for project management, and the project sponsor.
  • The policy instruments emphasize the need for a clear accountability framework for all projects, and the importance of visible active leadership by the project sponsor to engage stakeholders, mitigate project and programme risk, resolve issues, and act on opportunity.
  • Treasury Board Secretariat continues to support the Project Management community through ongoing engagement and the development of guidance for more effective project and programme management.

Background

The Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments and Directive on the Management Projects and Programmes, which became effective in April 2019 are driving positive improvements in the leadership and decision-making of projects and programmes.

The new policy suite supports improved decision-making with targeted requirements for the following:

  • collaboration and engagement with internal and external stakeholders
  • communication and transparency of project and programme governance decisions (to all key stakeholders)
  • a strengthened focus on benefits realization

The policy suite also seeks to ensure that the governance of projects and programmes is supported by appropriate structures and processes such as committees, decision gates, quality assurance, and the use of independent reviews.

Specific advancements to support the implementation of the new policy include the following:

Programme management

Programme management allows for the introduction of significant change in a measured and coordinated way. This makes sure that work remains aligned with strategic objectives and that change is introduced at a pace that the organization can manage. TBS is in the process of developing supplemental programme management policy direction for the delivery of large transformation business initiatives.

Project management
  1. Designation of departmental Senior Designated Officials (SDOs) for project management
    • Deputy heads have appointed SDOs for the management of projects and programmes in the majority of departments (within the core public administration) including all departments with an approved Organizational Project Management Capacity Assessment (OPMCA) class.
    • SDOs are responsible for supporting the deputy head’s accountability for all requirements under the policy, including capacity, competency, and knowledge of the departments project management workforce. For departments with an OPMCA, this includes the establishment, documentation, and maintenance of a department-wide project management framework.
  2. Strengthening the role and capacity of the project sponsor
    • The Canada School of Public Service is working with the Office of the Comptroller General to develop new learning products aligned with the Government of Canada’s project management competency framework. Potential products include exploring the development of a Senior Project Leadership Program for senior executives.
    • The new policy suite emphasizes the need for a clear accountability framework for all projects and highlights the importance of visible, active leadership by the project sponsor to mitigate project and programme risks, resolve issues, and act on opportunities.
  3. Supporting documentation for project sponsors and practitioners
    • To support the launch of the new policy suite, TBS, working in collaboration with partner departments, has published the following guidance documentation:
      • Guide to Project Sponsorship
      • Statement of Accountabilities and Responsibilities for Project Sponsors
      • Guide to Project Management Frameworks
      • Guide to Project Governance
      • Guide to Independent Reviews
      • Guide to Project Gating
      • Guide to Benefits Management
  4. Ongoing assessment of organizational project management capacity tools
    • In support of the implementation of the Government of Canada Project Management Strategy and the new policy suite, TBS is continuing to advance work on the tools used to assess an organization’s project management capacity.
    • This work is considering the assessment of a department’s maturity in areas such as investment planning, project management and change management.

19. Governance and oversight

Issue

The Auditor General of Canada’s message on the 2018 Spring Reports indicates a change in public service culture is needed to prevent major project failures within the Government of Canada.

Key facts

  • The Mandatory Procedures for Concept Cases were introduced April 1, 2018. Since then, 93 concept cases have been endorsed by the Chief Information Officer of Canada (GC CIO). Additionally, there have been approximately 100 points of early engagement between TBS and GC departments with respect to concept cases.
  • The GC Enterprise Architecture Review Board (GC EARB) was launched March 17, 2017, as part of the mandate of the GC CIO. Since inception, GC EARB has conducted reviews of approximately 300 modernization initiatives underway, including NextGen HR and Pay and Financial and Material Management, for alignment to the digital standards and Enterprise Architecture Framework.
  • The Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments and the Directive on the Management of Projects and Programmes came into effect April 11, 2019. The new policy and directive expanded the authorities of the GC CIO, including the authority of the GC CIO to establish a program to oversee high-risk, complex digitally enabled projects and programmes.
  • In spring of 2020, the Clerk of the Privy Council approved changes to deputy-level policy committees:
    • DM Committee of Digitization of Services (co-chaired by the Secretary to the Treasury Board and the Clerk of the Privy Council)
    • DM Committee on Core Services (co-chaired by the Secretary to the Treasury Board and the President of Shared Services Canada)
    • DM Committee on Enterprise Priorities and Planning (co-chaired by the Secretary to the Treasury Board and the Chief Operating Officer for Service Canada)

Response

  • The Government of Canada has introduced governance and oversight mechanisms aimed at improving the management of large, complex projects, which include:
    • Departments must receive endorsement from the GC CIO for any investment in a digital IT project.
    • A GC Enterprise Architecture Review Board (GC EARB) was established to define current and target digital project standards and to review departmental proposals for alignment within the GC.
    • Since April 11, 2019, the GC CIO has overseen high-risk, complex digital IT projects and programs and has the authority to strengthen governance processes.
    • In September 2018, quarterly Delivery Confidence Assessments were introduced as an oversight initiative to assess the performance and health of digital IT projects.
    • In spring 2020, deputy minister committees were restructured to streamline and improve efficiencies of the overall governance of digital modernization across the GC.

Background

TBS has introduced governance and oversight mechanisms that are aimed at improving the management of large, complex projects.

  1. Concept case
    • Departments must develop a concept case when contemplating an investment in a digital (IT) project. The concept case provides for a concise articulation of the business problem and envisioned outcomes that the investment is meant to support.
    • Departments must seek the endorsement of the GC CIO for all concept cases. With the endorsement, the GC CIO provides targeted recommendations to situate the sponsoring department for success. Recent examples of recommendations from the GC CIO include:
      • Ensure interoperability and data-sharing with partner organizations.
      • Leverage automation and artificial intelligence to reduce manual processes and improve services, with equitable outcomes for all Canadians.
      • Collaborate and align with relevant Government of Canada enterprise initiatives with a focus on potential reuse or repurpose of existing solutions.
      • Integrate users directly into the design and development as a regular feedback loop to ensure outcomes are realized.
      • Mitigate potential privacy considerations through privacy protections, as well as through the ethical and secure collection and use of data.
    • Since the introduction of the concept case, departments have demonstrated an increased capacity to identify business problems, articulate targeted outcomes and benefits, and demonstrate alignment to the strategic direction of the Government of Canada.
  2. GC Enterprise Architecture Review Board
    • Enterprise architecture is a conceptual blueprint that defines the structure and operation of an organization by considering and aligning business, information, application, technology, and security domains to support strategic outcomes.
    • GC EARB is defined in the policy and directive on service and digital where the CIO of Canada is responsible for:
      • “Prescribing expectations with regard to enterprise architecture”
      • “Establishing an enterprise architecture review board (EARB) that is mandated to define current and target architecture standards for the Government of Canada and review departmental proposals for alignment”
    • The process includes early engagement in advance of the GC EARB date to co-architect proposals with departments for alignment to the Enterprise Architecture Framework, Target State Architecture and Enterprise Solutions.
    • GC EARB has reviewed the major modernization projects underway with Employment and Social Development Canada, NextGen Human Resources (HR) and pay, financial and material management and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for alignment to the digital standards and Enterprise Architecture Framework.
  3. Expanded GC CIO Authorities
    • The authority of the GC CIO to establish a program to oversee high-risk, complex digital (IT) projects and programmes came into effect on April 11, 2019.
    • The expanded authorities of the GC CIO include identifying digital (IT) projects for inclusion in the oversight program (on the basis of complexity, risk, and alignment with GC priorities), and conducting oversight activities on the projects within this program.
    • For projects within the oversight program, the GC CIO has the latitude to commission independent project reviews, direct deputy heads to undertake course corrections, and intervene directly as warranted, to ensure projects remain on track to meet business outcomes and benefits.
    • For all digital (IT) projects, the GC CIO has the latitude to recommend cancellation of the project to Treasury Board when evidence demonstrates the project is not viable.
    • Through the oversight program, the GC CIO has gained a much clearer line of sight with respect to the management and governance of digital (IT) projects and programmes.
    • These additional oversight mechanisms apply to both existing and future projects, including enterprise digital (IT) projects and programmes such as NextGen Pay.
  4. Delivery Confidence Assessment
    • The oversight program, established by the GC CIO, oversees and guides digitally enabled investments across the Government of Canada on behalf of the Treasury Board from concept to benefits realization.
    • The program provides departments with actions and recommendations (derived from experience and evidence-based analysis) that can be quickly implemented to improve the chances of successful outcomes and benefits realization.
    • Beginning September 2018, the oversight program assesses the performance and health of digital (IT) projects within the program using a Delivery Confidence Assessment approach.
    • The Delivery Confidence Assessment reflects the professional judgment of the TBS oversight team as to the likelihood that the project or programme will achieve its intended business outcomes.
    • Initiatives are assessed quarterly based on evidence gathered during the oversight process and considerations of key project and programme success factors and are shared with departmental project sponsors for action as needed.
  5. Independent project reviews
    • TBS has recently updated the Independent Review Program through the provision of new guidance aimed at the project sponsor to reinforce the importance of independent third-party advice relative to digital (IT) projects.
    • The TBS independent review guidance and methodology reflect current best practices in project assurance, particularly in the governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand (both leaders in this area).
    • An independent review is a process which provides for a critical evaluation of the project conducted by qualified, unbiased, arm’s-length experts to assess the likelihood of the project to meet its objectives within its approved cost, schedule and scope parameters.
    • The goal of the program is to normalize the use of independent reviews, thereby providing greater visibility to senior project leadership on a project’s progress and corrective measures needed to keep the project on track.
  6. Artifacts to support project approval
    • The directive expanded the requirement for those artifacts which must be submitted when departments seek project approval through the Treasury Board (TB) submission process.
    • The directive requires that artifacts be shared with TBS at the time of submission (including the Business Case, Project Management Plan, Project Gating Plan, Procurement Plan, and Project Charter).
    • These documents provide valuable insight as to the approach being taken and the control mechanisms in place with which to manage and govern the project.
    • The directive sets out requirements to maintain a business case that reflects new information as the project progresses and a benefits realization plan that tracks the realization of project benefits.
    • This reflects a shift to focusing on the achievement of outcomes and benefits, which has contributed to better managed projects that meet their intended ends.
  7. New DM Committee Structure
    • Governance of digital modernization across the Government of Canada will be driven by three specific DM committees:
      • Committee on Digitization of Services: Focused on overall strategy and priority setting for digitization of services. This committee will also ensure reporting on digital issues to the Coordinating Committee of Deputy Ministers.
      • Committee on Enterprise Priorities and Planning: Focused on implementing an integrated approach for the management of external and internal enterprise services, information, data, IT, and cyber security; prioritization of Government of Canada demand for IT shared services (and assets).
      • Committee on Core Services: Focused on enabling and supporting deputy heads responsible for the transformation and modernization of core services.
    • The new DM Committee Structure responds to a need to streamline and improve the efficiencies of the overall suite of DM committees.
    • The committee mandates are dedicated to advancing the government’s agenda, in particular complex, horizontal priorities.
    • This complementary nature of these committees will allow for enhanced oversight and horizontal approaches to complex problems, an enterprise-wide lens to be applied to priority-setting for modernization, new perspectives to development and implementation of solutions, and enable departments in the delivery of critical initiatives.
    • Each committee’s membership has been tailored to its area of responsibility, to ensure the right mix of perspectives, roles, and skills are incorporated, bringing a level of expertise and support for decision-making. Overlap in membership is purposeful to ensure consistency and continuity.

20. Project management development and learning

Issue

The government is responding to the learning and development needs of its project management community, which continue to evolve as projects become more complex.

Key facts

The President of the Treasury Board’s 2019 mandate letter committed to “improve project management capabilities, so that all major projects in government are led by a certified professional with at least five years of experience.”

A new competency management framework was established in 2020 identifying the skills and knowledge required to successfully deliver projects in consideration of project risk and complexity.

A list of project management certification programs has also been developed identifying a variety of programs that project managers and departments can select when planning for their learning and development needs.

A review was completed comparing the current Canada School of Public Service’s (CSPS’s) learning curriculum against the Government of Canada’s project management competencies. The CSPS regularly updates and enhances its project management curriculum in consultation with the Treasury Board Secretariat and project management stakeholders.

A project management certification program is currently being explored that includes elements for a mentoring program for project managers, a mandatory training curriculum and a learning path for the project management community.

Response

As projects become increasingly complex, the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring project managers have the competencies, knowledge, skills and tools they need to lead the project management function.

The Treasury Board Secretariat is taking steps to support its project management community by establishing clear requirements for senior officials and identifying standard competencies for project managers in a new competency framework.

The Secretariat, in collaboration with other departments and the Canada School of Public Service, continues to adapt learning curriculums for project managers and meet the needs of the project management community to support successful delivery of Government of Canada projects.

Background

Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) supports the professional development of the project management community on an ongoing basis through community-based surveys, community engagement activities and demographic analysis to understand the needs and composition of the community to inform professional development and learning activities. For example:

The department actively communicates and promotes professional development opportunities to the community.

TBS has also developed an inventory of project management practitioners within departments to support departmental Senior Officials in managing their departments’ project management capacity.

In consultation with the TBS and departments, the CSPS supports leadership and professional development across the public service by identifying organizational needs and designing and delivering high-quality, practical programs that address the key development requirements of public service employees.

The CSPS currently offers a suite of project management learning opportunities, including: (1) an online introduction to project management course for general learners; (2) learning events, including an Annual Learning Day for the Government of Canada’s project management community; and (3) a series of 16 online courses that allow public servants to maintain professional certifications through the Project Management Institute.

The CSPS is also working with the Office of the Comptroller General to develop new learning products aligned with the Government of Canada’s project management competency framework. Potential products include exploring the development of a Senior Project Leadership Program for senior executives.

Other public and private sector organizations have professional development and certification programs to support project management.

Within the Government of Canada, the Department of National Defence Project Management Competency Development Programme assesses the knowledge and experience of project managers, determines their qualification level, and the level of projects, in terms of complexity and risk, for which they are qualified to manage. It also establishes a path for learning, experience and professional development for project managers to reach the next level of qualification.

21. Project management community engagement

Issue

The Government of Canada is enhancing engagement within the federal project management community, key external experts and international partners to improve collaboration and sharing of lessons learned and best practices.

Key facts

The President of the Treasury Board’s 2019 mandate letter committed to building a more effective public service and to “improve project management capabilities, so that all major projects in government are led by a certified professional with at least five years of experience.”

Both the Policy on the Planning and Management of Investments and the Directive on the Management of Projects and Programmes require collaboration and engagement with key stakeholders to support integrated planning and decision-making.

To improve capabilities across government, Treasury Board Secretariat is taking steps to support the professional development of the project management community. Collaboration bodies have been established to share lessons learned and best practices across the federal government, and with like-minded organizations or leaders in project management.

Response

The Treasury Board Secretariat is committed to strengthening the Project Management Community through engagement and outreach activities, recruitment campaigns and professional development opportunities.

The Secretariat continues to develop and promote opportunities for information-sharing across the public service and with external functional experts.

Engaging with international partners like the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and New Zealand is also key to sharing lessons learned and best practices, and building on past successes.

These engagements also help modernize the government’s project management capacity assessment tools and competency profile and inform the development of a project management senior leadership program.

Background

A tiered project management committee model has been established to engage the project community at all levels in an effort to promote the exchange of information and build a sense of networking and collaboration. They include:

The Senior Designated Official (SDO) Council, which was established in 2019 once deputy heads had designated their senior officials responsible for project management. The SDO Council is chaired by the Treasury Board Secretariat and acts as a primary advisory body to provide advice and recommendations, share information, and set strategic directions related to project and programme management.

The Treasury Board Secretariat Advisory Council on Investment Planning and Project Management (TBSAC) is an advisory body to the SDO Council that supports the implementation of policy instruments and sharing of information.

The Community of Practice on Investment Planning and Project Management is co-chaired by government representatives acting independently to ensure a safe space for open dialogue and collaboration amongst practitioners in project management to share information, tools, best practices and lessons learned.

In 2019–20 TBS formalized mechanisms for gathering, sharing and implementing lessons learned from information technology project challenges and failures across the Government of Canada through the TBSAC, as well as the newly established SDO Council.

Through its Community Management Office for Acquired Services and Assets, in the Office of the Comptroller General, TBS also delivers strategic direction and central leadership for the collaboration, development, and implementation of strategies, programs and initiatives to support capacity-building, community development and professional recognition of the Government of Canada project management community.

TBS is actively engaging with like-minded organizations and partners in the project management domains to share lessons learned and best practices.

For example:

TBS and other government departments are members of international project management associations such as the Project Management Institute Global Executive Council.

TBS is continuously engaging with partners such as the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and the New Zealand government in sharing lessons learned and best practices in project management.

In working with the New Zealand government TBS leveraged much of their project management maturity to modernize our project management capacity assessment tools.

Working extensively with the United Kingdom and learning from their major project leadership academy, TBS along with the CSPS has been developing a project management senior leadership program.

22. Transparency of lessons learned

Issue

The Auditor General of Canada’s message on the 2018 Spring Reports indicates a need for change in public service culture and for more transparency on lessons learned on major project failures to prevent them in the future.

Key facts

As of 2019–20, TBS has formalized mechanisms for gathering, sharing and implementing lessons learned from information technology project challenges and failures across the GC through the Treasury Board Senior Advisory Committee (TBSAC) on Project Management, as well as the newly established Senior Designated Official (SDO) Council on Project Management.

TBS is leveraging the Executive Project Oversight Committee, consisting of assistant deputy minister representatives of major IT projects under the ongoing oversight of TBS, to gather information on lessons learned from 15 to 20 highly complex and risky projects.

TBS develops quarterly Delivery Confidence Assessments for each of the projects under oversight.

TBS is developing guidance on lessons learned which will be shared with the community.

Response

The government is committed to ensuring the proper mechanisms are in place to gather, share, and implement lessons learned from major IT projects across the GC.

This means taking the necessary steps to ensure ongoing oversight for complex and high-risk IT projects.

This includes developing quarterly assessments for projects under TBS’s oversight, creating guidance on lessons learned, and leveraging senior-level committees to gather information on lessons learned from highly complex IT projects.

The TBSAC on Project Management and the newly established SDO Council on Project Management provide forums for departments and agencies to discuss policies, tools, strategies, and best practices in support of project management across the Government of Canada.

Background

As of 2019–20 TBS has formalized mechanisms for gathering, sharing and implementing lessons learned from information technology project challenges and failures across the GC through the TBSAC on Project Management, as well as the newly established SDO Council on Project Management.

The TBSAC on Project Management provides a forum for departments and agencies to discuss matters involving project management policy, tools, and best practices in support of project management across the Government of Canada. Membership includes representation from over 50 large and small departments across the GC.

The SDO Council serves as a forum for sharing of information on departmental project and program management practices, strategies, tools, approaches and lessons learned. Membership includes representation from over 50 large and small departments across the GC.

Quarterly updates on the status of Project/Programme Oversight Portfolio initiatives under digital oversight will help to inform and provide lessons learned for continuous improvement in policy development, enablement, and project/programme management.

A TBS Project Management Portal is available to all departments and allows for collaboration and sharing of information from departments and agencies.

23. Management Accountability Framework

Issue

The Management Accountability Framework is a key mechanism used by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) to monitor the management performance of federal departments and agencies. The 2020–21 Management Accountability Framework exercise was modified in the context of COVID‑19.

Key facts

The Management Accountability Framework is an annual exercise involving the assessment of 63 federal organizations that identifies management expectations based on the Treasury Board policy suite, assesses organizational practices and performance using a series of indicators, and highlights management strengths and opportunities for improvement.

The COVID‑19 pandemic decreased the capacity of departments to engage in a traditional assessment process and made it a priority for some departments to stay focused on the pandemic response. Therefore, the number of questions in this year’s exercise was reduced by approximately 60% (44 in 2020–21 questions compared to 105 in 2019–20).

TBS also made efforts to capture learnings and insights about how departments modified their management processes in light of COVID‑19 through extensive interviews with Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers and Heads of Human Resources of participating organizations.

Reports detailing individual departmental results are expected to be sent to departments by April 30, 2021. A subsequent government-wide report which will summarize enterprise-wide learnings and best practices should be available in June 2021.

Response

The Management Accountability Framework (MAF) sets out expectations for sound public sector management, supports the management accountability of deputy heads and seeks to improve management practices across departments.

The MAF is important because it provides insight into progress on government-wide priorities and transformation initiatives. It also helps ensure that federal organizations are well managed, accountable and that resources are allocated to achieve results.

Departmental Reports provide deputy heads with findings about the management strengths and areas for improvement within their organization.

These findings also enable the government to better identify and address management challenges.

Background

Established in 2003, the Management Accountability Framework sets out expectations for sound public sector management, supports the management accountability of deputy heads and seeks to improve management practices across departments. Annually, 63 federal organizations participate in the Management Accountability Framework exercise which assesses their organization’s practices and performance, and highlights management strengths and opportunities for improvement.

This is achieved through the assessment of departmental performance against a detailed set of questionnaires that evaluate specific performance metrics in six Areas of Management: Financial Management, People Management, Information Management and Information Technology/Service Management, Results Management, Security Management and the Management of Assets and Acquired Services. Departments and agencies are required to respond to each question and provide evidence to substantiate their response. Following the submission of the departmental responses, TBS experts review the information provided, assess the results (against targets where established) and draft analysis and conclusions for inclusion in the Departmental Reports.

The Departmental Reports provide deputy heads with findings about the management strengths and areas for improvement within their organization. The reports also give deputy heads information to benchmark their performance against other departments. In addition, the Management Accountability Framework results are used as input by the Privy Council Office in the annual deputy minister performance assessments.

This year, the COVID‑19 pandemic decreased the capacity of departments and agencies to engage in a traditional assessment process and made it a priority for some organizations to stay focused on the pandemic response. Therefore, the Management Accountability Framework exercise was modified to not only assess a streamlined set of management practices, but also gain a deeper understanding of how management functions adapted during the pandemic. In particular, the exercise sought to examine the impact of the flexibilities provided by the Treasury Board to enable federal departments and agencies to rapidly implement Canada’s COVID‑19 response. The total number of questions was reduced by approximately 60% (44 questions in 2020–21 compared to 105 in 2019–20), and the information on how departments adapted was largely collected through interviews with Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers and Heads of Human Resources.

Departmental Reports are expected to be sent to departments by April 30, 2021. A subsequent government-wide report which will provide insight on enterprise-wide adaptations to management practices, observations about TBS’s role in enabling the response to COVID‑19 pandemic, and capture best practices, innovations, and lessons learned should be available by June 2021.

24. Role of Treasury Board in the pandemic

Issue

  • The Treasury Board and the Treasury Board Secretariat demonstrated a rapid and adaptive response to the circumstances of the pandemic in order to provide departments with essential authorities, funding and guidance to deliver emergency response measures as well as regular services on which Canadians rely while maintaining accountability and oversight.

Response

Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) employees have demonstrated their willingness and ability to rise above the unique challenges faced while operating as an almost entirely mobile workforce.

TBS employees have been fully engaged in the Government of Canada’s response to COVID‑19 from the beginning of the pandemic, whether behind the scenes or in front of parliamentarians and Canadians.

The contributions of TBS employees include:

  • continuing to manage the supply cycle of government planning, expenditures and reporting
  • supporting operations of the Treasury Board
  • engaging on the importance of access to information with the Information Commissioner
  • validating approaches to documenting government decisions for transparency in this exceptional time with the Auditor General
  • providing human resources management guidance to deputy heads of departments and agencies
  • providing IT security guidance to departments and agencies in this period of heightened cyber threats

TBS has been providing regular policy guidance to deputy heads on security, business continuity planning, human resources, procurement, digital services, access to information and privacy. Our goal has been to provide departments the guidance they need so our exceptional workforce can support emergency response measures and continue to provide the services Canadians rely on, under extraordinary circumstances.

The COVID‑19 pandemic has demonstrated the government’s capacity to deliver trusted programs and services to Canadians.

Working with bargaining agents and departments and agencies, we continue to review our human resources, IT and management policies to ensure that federal public servants are supported during this pandemic.

Background

Supporting Treasury Board operations

Through the pandemic, TBS officials have supported Ministers of the Treasury Board and worked closely with colleagues across government to ensure that departments have the authorities and flexibilities they need to move quickly in response to the needs of Canadians.

Managing supply cycle of government planning, expenditures and reporting

With the unprecedented scale and impact of COVID‑19, Parliament prioritized measures responding to COVID‑19.

The government tabled Supplementary Estimates (A), 2020–21 on June 2; Supplementary Estimates (B), 2020–21 on October 22; and Supplementary Estimates (C) on February 16 to provide funding for COVID‑19 research and other priorities.

Take together, the Supplementary Estimates (A, B and C) for 2020–21 represent a total of $159.5 billion in planned spending authorities for COVID‑19-related measures.

Documenting government decisions and transparency

Early in the crisis, deputy ministers were instructed to put a priority focus on achieving the goals of the government’s response measures. They were asked to use sound judgment for maximum flexibility in applying Treasury Board administrative policies and exercising their authorities.

Accountability and transparency remain paramount: deputy heads were directed to ensure that the circumstances, rationale and process for decision-making were well documented.

This helps the government to account for the decisions made during this crisis, including any non-standard applications of Treasury Board policy.

The Auditor General has been informed of this direction and is kept apprised of requirements for departments to be responsive in this crisis, within a responsible frame for due diligence and controls over public expenditures.

Flexibilities in Treasury Board policies

Since the onset of the pandemic, departments and agencies have been called upon to deliver programs and services with unprecedented urgency and speed.

The Treasury Board acted to allow departments to orient maximum resources towards the pandemic response and to provide greater flexibility to maintain the operations of government while responding to COVID‑19. Actions included providing additional time for departments to submit investment plans, deferring the effective date of some requirements, and allowing certain ministers the time-limited ability to amend Terms and Conditions of select transfer payment programs.

The Office of the Comptroller General (OCG) has made policy adjustments to provide temporary increases to limits for emergency contracting to enable the quick and efficient procurement of necessary resources.

The OCG has also asked deputy ministers to review their Grants and Contributions programming and maximize the flexibilities built into the Policy on Transfer Payments, which underpins these programs.

These changes were necessary to enable quick response and agility and to support government operations in an unprecedented situation.

Other time-limited delegated authorities were intended to support the response effort by expediting the use of authorities in a responsible way and managing some low-risk business that would otherwise have to be put aside during the COVID‑19 response.

Regulatory flexibility

The government continues to support Canadian businesses and industry who, as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic, are either facing hardship or bringing forth new products or services in support of Canada’s response plan.

TBS has asked that departments and agencies consider demonstrating flexibility across the regulatory cycle in developing, applying, and enforcing regulations, within their specific context, in consideration of the risk to the health, safety, and security of Canadians and the environment.

The Government of Canada is taking a balanced, common sense approach in developing, applying and enforcing regulations in consideration of the risk to the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment.

We are taking steps to ensure that new regulatory proposals or changes to existing regulations required to address the COVID‑19 situation are given top priority, while also ensuring that non-COVID‑19 regulatory proposals that are necessary and important continue to be addressed.

Managing government operations remotely

On June 22, 2020, TBS shared the government’s approach to easing of COVID‑19 restrictions across the country for federal employees, and posted comprehensive guidance for deputy heads to use in developing their own plans for increasing access at federal worksites as provinces and territories began to ease restrictions in the summer. This approach was developed in close collaboration between the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Health Canada and Public Services and Procurement Canada.

This guidance supports the continued delivery of programs and services to Canadians, while supporting the physical and mental health of federal public servants.

The public service has moved collectively and successfully towards managing COVID‑19 as part of its ongoing operations and the continued delivery of key programs and services to Canadians, and public servants will continue to work remotely, and effectively, for the foreseeable future.

Business continuity planning

Throughout the COVID‑19 pandemic, the government has continued to deliver critical programs and services, including developing, and ensuring quick access to, new emergency financial supports.

The Policy on Government Security includes mandatory requirements for organizations to develop and maintain Business Continuity Plans, and within the context of COVID‑19, organizations were asked to ensure their plans are up to date for any possible disruption.

In collaboration with Public Safety, TBS continues to assess the Business Continuity Management response to COVID‑19 to improve its practices and preparedness, and to support the ongoing trusted delivery of critical services to Canadians during significant events.

In parallel to the continued delivery of critical services, departments and agencies are working to achieve timely recovery of other services and activities as the situation evolves.

Human resources management guidance

As of February 18, 2021, the Chief Human Resources Officer had issued 19 updates to deputy heads since late January 2020, providing information and guidance on topics including remote work, critical services, the health and safety of employees, leave provisions and mental health.

TBS has also been keeping employees informed by providing up-to-date COVID‑19 advisories and information on the Information for Government of Canada employees: Coronavirus disease (COVID‑19) website.

A number of exceptional leave provisions have been made available to provide employees who are ill or unable to work for reasons related to COVID‑19 with different options to cover their health, family or work situations.

When working from a remote location, employees with disabilities may face accessibility barriers, which may be similar or different from those they encounter in the regular workplace. TBS has provided guidance to managers on accommodations, including information on inclusive virtual meetings and the use of various communications technologies.

25. Update on Next Generation HR and Pay Initiative

Issue

Update on the Next Generation HR and Pay Initiative.

Response

The government’s NextGen HR and Pay team (Shared Services Canada (SSC) and the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer) is working with SAP to adapt HR and Pay business processes so that we can adopt a configured version of SAP’s Success Factors.

Success Factors is a world class Software as a Service (SaaS) solution with industry-leading HR and pay practices built into its configuration. The team is getting input and advice from other complex private and public sector organizations who have already implemented a SaaS HR and pay service.

Employees at the Department of Heritage Canada will be trained and asked to participate in a pilot this year, putting their HR information into Success Factors in addition to their normal use of PeopleSoft. Their participation will allow us to run pay cycles in a secure environment without affecting anyone’s actual pay.

Future pilots will be undertaken with different employee groups to test the full range of HR and pay requirements to ensure that the configured solution meets our business needs.

While key exploration work is underway with SAP for the HR-to-pay capabilities, we are going to test other solutions for other elements of HR capabilities and harvest the learning of CSE and PSC.

The NextGen HR and Pay team will present a recommendation to Treasury Board in 2023 to either deploy a configured Success Factors solution or not. Any deployment recommendation will take into consideration the business and operational realities of government departments and will include plans for communicating with and training all end users.

Background

Budget 2018 announced the government’s intention to move away from Phoenix and begin development of a pay system that will be better aligned with the complexity of the federal government’s human resources and pay structure.

TBS received $16 million over two years, beginning in 2018–19, to explore replacement options for a next generation human resources and pay solution.

In summer 2019, the government announced it had selected Ceridian, SAP, and Workday as the vendors deemed qualified to deliver a next generation human resources and pay solution for the Government of Canada.

In September 2019, the government announced that it will invest $117 million to co-design and deliver pilot projects for the NextGen HR and Pay system.

In March 2020, after extensive evaluation, and testing, it was announced that SAP had been selected to work with our team on a pilot for a new human resources and pay solution.

SAP was selected through a rigorous evaluation process which was open and transparent and placed users at the centre. The evaluations involved elements such measuring vendors against Digital, Privacy and Security Standards as well as testing of hundreds of HR and pay scenarios, both simple and complex.

All three vendors remain qualified to work with the government in the future for HR and pay solutions. This means maximum flexibility for the government to access the solutions of multiple, best-in-class vendors which is critical to the NextGen approach.

The NextGen team at SSC engaged SAP on a series of discussions to assess organizational capacity and readiness to work on NextGen under the current COVID‑19 circumstances.

Initial focus of work with SAP included establishing governance and oversight, project management tools and protocols and development of a detailed plan to pilot the solution in a core department.

Effective April 1, 2020, leadership for NextGen was transitioned from Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to Shared Services Canada. The Chief Human Resources Officer at Treasury Board Secretariat remains the Business Owner and a key collaborator of the NextGen initiative.

On October 14, 2020, the selection of the Department of Canadian Heritage for the Exploratory Phase of the Next Generation HR and Pay initiative was announced.

The government is working with the selected vendor (SAP) and the Department of Canadian Heritage to develop a business case, privacy impact assessment, change management and other planning considerations to learn how a future HR and pay solution can integrate information from multiple compensation-related HR systems.

Canadian Heritage was selected as the Exploratory Phase Department because their organization provides a good representation of the government’s human resources complexities, including multiple occupational groups, regional representation, overtime, and other considerations.

Throughout this process, the NextGen team is engaging with public service employees, leaders, HR advisors and technical specialists, as well as working hand in hand with bargaining agents in the development of a user-centric HR and pay solution.

As part of this pilot initiative, NextGen has involved over 170 employees from 20 federal organizations to participate in engagement forums. Thirty-nine workshops and 103 working sessions are being held with HR and pay practitioners, end users and technical experts. These activities form the basis for NextGen’s Exploratory Phase, and they will inform the next steps in the initiative.

The government will be making a decision this month about moving from the exploratory phase with SAP’s Success Factors into the design and experimentation phase, where configuring of the solution will occur.

Any pilots undertaken in this program will not affect employees’ actual pay. Pilots will occur in a controlled environment that is not connected to payment systems. Canadian Heritage employees will continue to be paid through the Phoenix pay system while testing is completed.

The government continues to work with stakeholders, such as bargaining agents, employees, and HR and pay practitioners, and will continue to engage in an open and transparent manner, so that the new solution can address the needs of a modern public service and its employees as soon as possible.

Over the next three years, NextGen will carry out a second pilot and a feasibility study. The details for the second pilot and the feasibility study are being finalized and learning from the exploratory phase will inform the planning for these future phases.

Ongoing stabilization of the Phoenix pay system remains a top priority for the government and is being pursued by Public Services and Procurement Canada.

26. Auditor General Report: Procuring Complex Information Technology Solutions

Issue

On February 25, 2021, the Auditor General of Canada tabled a performance audit report entitled Procuring Complex Information Technology Solutions.

Key facts

This audit focused on whether selected departments planned and carried out agile procurements for complex IT solutions that supported the achievement of business outcomes and demonstrated the government’s commitment to fairness, openness, and transparency in the process.

In particular, the audit examined the procurement processes for three major IT initiatives: Next Generation Human Resources and Pay (NextGen); Benefits Delivery Modernization (BDM); and, Workplace Communication Services (WCS). While NextGen and BDM used elements of agile procurement, WCS used a traditional procurement process.

The audit covered the period of April 1, 2018, to August 30, 2020, and implicates Shared Services Canada (SSC), Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), Public Services and Procurement Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

Key findings

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) observed that federal organizations had made good progress towards modernizing procurement practices and adopting agile procurement.

The audit found that organizations did not provide enough guidance or training to staff related to agile procurement.

The audit noted that there were opportunities to strengthen governance to ensure that senior representatives were sufficiently engaged in procurement initiatives.

The audit noted that improvements are needed to detect and prevent integrity risks in procurement processes.

The audit also made recommendations related to training on agile procurement, and on information management and the use of data analytics to support demonstration of fairness and integrity in procurement.

Response

The Government of Canada is committed to responsible management of its IT solutions in an open and transparent manner and welcomes the Auditor General’s recommendations.

The Treasury Board Secretariat is working closely with Shared Services Canada and Public Services and Procurement Canada to foster a common understanding of agile procurements when undertaking transformational IT initiatives, and to develop and promote guidance and tools to support agile procurement.

A Centre of Expertise in Agile and Innovative Procurement was established in 2019 and the government has governance frameworks in place to ensure that projects and procurements have appropriate governance and stakeholder engagement, and sound information management practices.

We continue to work closely with Shared Services Canada and departments to define business needs and anticipate change management requirements for transformational IT initiatives, such as NextGen.

Recommendations

The report makes five recommendations. TBS was implicated in two of the audit’s recommendations because of its central agency policy role and its involvement with the NextGen HR and Pay Initiative (TBS was lead between 2018 and 2020 before responsibility for the project was transferred to Shared Services Canada). SSC was scoped into the audit on four of the audit’s recommendations related to the WCS and NextGen.

Recommendation in paragraph 47

To further support the government’s modernization of procurement, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Public Services and Procurement Canada, and Shared Services Canada should develop more comprehensive guidance and training for employees to improve understanding of agile procurement and how to apply collaborative methods.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, with input from Public Services and Procurement Canada and Shared Services Canada, should also assess what skills, competencies, and experience procurement officers need to support agile approaches to complex IT procurements.

TBS’s response

Agreed. Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada will continue to work with Public Services and Procurement Canada, Shared Services Canada, and other key stakeholders to develop, deliver and promote formal and informal learning focused on agile procurement as well as develop and promote guidance and tools that support capacity-building in the procurement community.

SSC’s response

Agreed. Shared Services Canada is working closely with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Public Services and Procurement Canada with respect to undertaking transformational IT procurements and is fostering a common understanding of agile procurements. Work on agile procurement has been done in close partnership and through engagement with other government departments that are Shared Services Canada’s procurement clients.

In December 2019, Shared Services Canada established the Centre of Expertise in Agile and Innovative Procurement, which is dedicated to supporting procurement officers in the implementation of agile and innovative procurements. The department has also undertaken significant efforts to launch and implement the Procurement Refresher and Essentials Program (PREP), which is continuously modernized. Shared Services Canada will continue to ensure that employees involved in transformational IT procurements have a more comprehensive understanding of agile and collaborative procurement methods through refinements to guidance, training, and support being provided to procurement officers.

Recommendation in paragraph 53

TBS, ESDC, and SSC should ensure governance mechanisms are in place to engage senior representatives of concerned departments and agencies for each of the complex IT procurements we audited. This will be particularly important to support agile procurements of complex IT initiatives and their successful achievement of business outcomes.

TBS’s response

Agreed. For the NextGen initiative, the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will continue to work with Shared Services Canada and departments and agencies at senior levels as well as users from the HR, pay and manager communities to define business needs and anticipate change management requirements.

As the initiative moves from discovery to more substantive phases, decision-makers will be required to be engaged thoroughly. A review of existing governance to align it with upcoming phases is underway.

Shared Services Canada’s responses

Agreed. Shared Services Canada is pleased to report that processes are already in place.

For the Workplace Communication Services procurement, Shared Services Canada is committed to engaging all stakeholders at the appropriate junctures in the procurement process, ensuring roles and responsibilities are clearly understood and agreed to, and seeking decision-maker commitment to ensure desired business outcomes are achieved.

Since awarding of the Workplace Communication Services contract in 2017, Shared Services Canada has put in place the Project Management Framework, which guides the effective management and delivery of the department’s projects throughout the project life cycle. The framework consists of tools such as a project control framework, integrated plans, risk registers, and the stakeholders’ responsibility and accountability matrix, which ensures continued alignment between all stakeholders to support the achievement of the desired business outcomes. The department’s Project Governance Framework documents and communicates the role of the various governance committees in providing effective oversight and a challenge function.

Shared Services Canada also has had a Procurement Governance Framework since July 2019, which was developed, implemented, and communicated, as appropriate, to provide procurement oversight, control, integration, risk management, and decision-making for greater transparency and accountability. This framework tailors the required stakeholder oversight levels in relation to the size, scope, complexity, and risks of the procurements.

Background

For this audit, the OAG examined 3 major IT initiatives Next Generation Human Resource and Pay (NextGen), Benefits Delivery Modernization (BDM), and Workplace Communication Services (WCS). used elements of agile procurement, WCS used a traditional procurement process. All 3 initiatives are complex and are government-wide with high impact on Canadians. The OAG provided the Principal’s Draft Report of this audit to SSC on November 24, 2020, and the DM Draft report on February 9, 2021. SSC has confirmed the technical accuracy of the report and provides its responses to recommendations.

To deliver services efficiently, federal government organizations often need to procure new, complex information (IT) systems to replace aging ones. The government currently has about 21 large IT procurements underway, valued at over $6.6 billion.

In 2017, the Prime Minister directed the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to modernize how the government procures these new systems. Since then, Public Services and Procurement Canada and Shared Service Canada have introduced initiatives to meet this directive. Agile procurement, which they adopted in 2018, is one of them.

While traditional procurement is linear, agile procurement is iterative and typically awards multiple small contracts. Agile procurement aims to achieve business outcomes by establishing close collaborations between procurement experts, end users (those who use the procured systems), and private sector suppliers, through multiple phases. It permits course corrections and helps federal organizations apply lessons learned. It is best used for complex projects in which it may not be clear at the outset what the best potential solution is to address business needs.

The 2018 OAG examination of the implementation of the Phoenix pay system recommended that for all government-wide IT projects, mandatory independent reviews of the project’s key decisions be carried out to determine if they should proceed or not. Furthermore, it recommended that government ensure effective oversight is maintained and documented, and that it includes the heads of concerned departments and agencies. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts endorsed these recommendations in February 2019.

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