Internal Audit Report - Performance Measures for Staffing

Military Police Complaints Commission

December 2005

Management Response

As indicated in the Public Service Commission Audit Report released in October 2004, the Military Police Complaints Commission undertook to review its staffing activities and files for the next three years, commencing in 2004. Mrs. Janique Simard-Ouellette, a certified HR consultant, was retained to conduct an internal staffing audit for the fiscal year 2004-2005.

Several recommendations have been made by Ms. Simard-Ouellette which are fully accepted, and each and everyone of them will be addressed in a timely fashion. A Management Action Plan has been prepared to this end. Management is committed to achieving continuous improvement in this programme.

Background to the Audit

In February 2004, the Public Service Commission (PSC) launched an audit of the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC). In its audit report of October 2004, the PSC made eight recommendations, designed to correct the deficiencies found during the audit. These recommendations were acknowledged by the MPCC as being logical and helpful and the then MPCC Chairperson indicated to the PSC that measures would be taken to implement the recommendations as soon as possible. However, as the Public Service's staffing system is very complex, the PSC withdrew the MPCC's delegation for any appointments to the executive positions and imposed a number of conditions on the delegated authorities for non-executive staffing. It should be noted that the PSC had not delegated appointments authority to executive positions to the MPCC. The PSC indicated that these measures would remain in effect until the PSC is satisfied that the MPCC has properly implemented its staffing management framework.

As a result, the MPCC acted quickly to address the recommendations made in the report. Some of the measures taken include:

One of the recommendations included in the report, was the implementation of periodic monitoring of staffing activities. As a result, the MPCC decided to do a review annually and took the initiative to hire a private HR Consultant to review and analyze the staffing activities completed during the period of April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005. It should be noted that the PSC audit report was released on October 19, 2004. Therefore, four selection processes (total of six) during the period under review were conducted and finalized without the benefit of the PSC audit report, which covered a three-year period from April 1, 2001 to March 31, 2004.

The present report was written by Mrs. Janique Simard-Ouellette, HR Consultant. From 1988 to 2001, Mrs. Simard-Ouellette was the incumbent of progressively more senior HR positions within Revenue Canada before transferring to the PSC in 2001, as a Strategic Staffing Consultant. In 2002, she became a private consultant and has since had the opportunity to work with various public service organizations, such as: Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the PSC, the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat and the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs. Her background includes extensive work in training newly appointed Staffing Advisors. She was also involved in staffing appeal and investigation processes, developed and implemented staffing policies and strategies. Mrs. Simard-Ouellette is a Certified Human Resources Professional (C.H.R.P.) and has obtained her Staffing Certification from the PSC in 1992..

Focus of the Audit

This audit assessed the extent to which every staffing decision taken by the MPCC respected the merit principle of the Public Service Employment Act, its related regulations and policies, as well as the newly developed performance measures for staffing and recruitment activities.

The audit which consisted of a review and analysis of all departmental staffing files, covered all staffing transactions carried out by the MPCC from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005. It did not include interviews with managers or HR advisors involved with these files.

Six staffing transactions (including one that was cancelled) involving non-executive positions, took place during the period under review. It must be noted that no staffing transactions for executive levels positions were done during the period under review.

About the audit

Objective

The objective of the audit was to assess the extent to which every staffing decision made by the MPCC respected the merit principle of the PSEA and the staffing values under the MPCC Staffing Delegation and Accountability Agreement with the PSC.

Scope and approach

Six 6 selection processes (Annex A) for the period from April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005 were examined. Departmental staffing files were reviewed and analyzed.

Overall Observations related to Performance Measures for Staffing

Staffing process values were followed

The values of fairness, equity of access and transparency are referred to as process values. Observations related to each one are found below.

Fairness

Equity of access

Transparency

Conclusion

Based on the advice provided to MPCC managers by HR Advisors (PWGSC and PSC), I have concluded that they have respected the process values to the best of their knowledge.

Recommendations

  1. With the implementation of the new Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), the implementation of an area of selection policy will be mandatory. The implementation of such a policy will ensure that managers and employees of the MPCC are aware of the minimum area of selection to be used when providing recourse rights.
  2. Even though the implementation of a deployment policy is not mandatory under the new PSEA, consideration should also be given to developing a deployment policy for the same reasons (see Recommendation 1) and given the fact the Treasury Board's deployment policy was rescinded.
  3. Every effort should be made by PWGSC HR staff to ensure that recourse rights are provided in a timely fashion.
  4. Information about the HR Plan, once it has been finalized, should be shared with the employees to supplement the information already being shared at monthly staff meetings to the extent allowed by privacy legislation.

Results Values could be improved upon

Non-Partisanship

Competence

Representativeness

Conclusion

I have concluded that MPCC Management respected the result values to the best of their knowledge, however improvements are required.

Recommendations

  1. With the implementation of the new PSEA, a Workforce analysis should be done to determine if any shortfalls exists. Should any shortfalls be identified, the additional flexibility found in the new PSEA should be used to attract employment equity group members.
  2. PWGSC HR Advisors need to ensure that selection processes posters encourage employment equity group members to apply.
  3. Assessment tools used to assess applicants during selection processes should be reviewed more thoroughly by PWGSC HR Advisors to ensure that they assess what was originally intended, as per the statement of qualifications.
  4. PWGSC HR Advisors need to ensure that letters to candidates clearly identify the pass marks utilized at the various assessment stages.

Management and Service Delivery Principles need to be reviewed

Affordability/Efficiency

Conclusion

I have concluded that HR advisors did not completely fulfill their advisory responsibilities and should have exercise their challenge function more extensively.

Recommendations

  1. The Service Agreement with PWGSC should be reviewed and updated based on the new requirements of the legislation, the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument and the Staffing Management Accountability Framework (SMAF).
  2. Discussions should be held with PWGSC HR Advisors providing human resources services to the MPCC, to ensure that each of the parties understand their roles and responsibilities. Roles and responsibilities should be further clarified in the Service Agreement.
  3. Given the conditions on the delegated authorities, discussions should also be held with the PSC to clarify with them the role of each party involved. Roles and responsibilities should also be clarified in a document.
  4. HR specialists need to play a challenge role with managers involved in selection processes and documentation to this effect should be kept on the staffing files.

Specific Observations

Documentation on staffing files

Staffing files did not always include required documentation

Staffing files are the official record of selection and appointment decisions made by those exercising staffing authority. Documentation and retention requirements are stipulated in Chapter 8 of the PSC Staffing Manual.

As per the Service Agreement, PWGSC human resources advisors are responsible for ensuring that all relevant documentation are on staffing files. The documentation should demonstrate that the assessment and selection of all candidates are done properly.

Three of the staffing files examined did not include all the relevant information.

The statements of qualifications were adequate

Before staffing a position, a manager must determine the qualifications required from candidates in order for them to be found qualified. These qualifications must be based on the work and the context in which it is to be performed and must respect the PSC Standards for Selection and Assessment which stipulate minimum requirements, such as the minimum level of education and occupational certification. The statements of qualifications found on files were complete in terms of content and allowed the selection board members to determine if individuals were qualified according to merit.

Files indicated that persons with priority status were considered

Documentation on files confirmed that persons with priority status were considered for the selection processes. The priority clearance numbers issued by the PSC were found on the staffing files when such a requirement existed.

Assessment documentation needs improvement in some areas

The assessment stage of staffing processes involves gathering sufficient information to assess the qualifications of the candidates to perform the duties of the position. It must be accomplished in a fair, equitable and transparent manner. The assessment phase, includes the following:

The screening process was well documented

Documentation to demonstrate that the candidate's applications were reviewed against the screening requirements specified on the selection process poster was found on files. Screening board reports were clear and complete and supported the screening process.

Assessment information for competitive processes was on file

Staffing files must contain sufficient and appropriate assessment information to support the appointment decision. Assessment information can include interviews, samples of previous work, simulation/ situational exercises, written tests, assessment centres, review of past accomplishments and experience.

Adequate documentation was found on files to support the appointment decisions of the three competitive processes reviewed. However, inadequate assessments of certain qualifications could have jeopardized the merit principle. As an example, the documentation on the IS-4 closed competition file clearly indicated that the pass mark established for the written examination (to assess the “P” identified as language requirements for the position) was lowered after the examination was administered. The candidate who was appointed to the position did achieve the pass mark that was originally established. As a result the selection process still respected the staffing value of competency.

Upon review of the rating guides for the IS-4 and LA-2A selection processes, in my opinion some of the interview questions, meant to assess some of the qualifications indicated on the statement of qualifications were not properly assessing them.

After the assessment decisions are made, the results are expected to be communicated to candidates. With the exception of one candidate in the IS-4 selection process, all files reviewed, indicate that candidates were notified of the results of their standing in competitive processes. As indicated earlier, the results of the Personnel Psychology Test used during the IS-4 selection process, did not indicate to candidates the pass mark that had been established.

Documentation on staffing files demonstrates that feedback was offered to candidates who were disqualified at various points, during the assessment process.

One deployment file did not clearly demonstrate impartiality.

Even though a review of the applications received as a result of the poster for competition/deployment for the AS-3 position was done, the only candidate who was interviewed and subsequently deployed was known by one of the Board Members. While the PSC considers relationships that are forged in the workplace as less of a concern than those of a personal or familiar nature, care must be taken in order not to provide an unfair advantage to a particular candidate. It should be noted that the staffing actions done to staff this AS-3 position were completed before the release of the PSC Audit Report.

Security clearance and language results of appointees were on file.

Persons to be appointed must satisfy the conditions of employment and the language requirements associated with the position. Persons who do not meet these conditions and language requirements cannot be appointed, no matter how well qualified they are otherwise.

I expected, and did find documentation on staffing files to confirm that the appointees met all the conditions of employment and the language requirements prior to being appointed or deployed to the positions.

The post-assessment stage was well documented but needs improvement

Once the assessment is completed and the qualified person has been selected, there are a number of steps to confirm the appointment. Documentation in the post-assessment stage includes the following:

Eligibility lists were generally well administered

An eligibility list is a list of qualified candidates resulting from a competition, and serves as the basis for appointments.

Of the two eligibility lists prepared by PWGSC HR Advisors, one had no indication of its validity period and the other one indicated an incorrect appeal period.

Some letters of offer were missing information

The letter of offer is the official appointment document. It contains standardized and specific requirements that refer to various conditions that apply to the appointment. Three of the most important references in relation to professional conduct are the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service; the submission of a Confidential Report of all outside activities, assets and direct and contingent liabilities that might give rise to a conflict of interest with respect to the appointee's official duties; and, for new appointees to the public service, the requirement to take an Oath or Solemn Affirmation. I expected and did find a signed letter of offer prepared by PWGSC HR Advisors for each appointment containing the conditions and requirements that apply to that appointment.

The sample reviewed which consisted of, five letters of offer, were appropriately signed. However, two letters of offer were not complete or contained incorrect information.

The appeal/recourse notifications were on files:

The appeal/recourse process is a means for ensuring that staffing decisions in the public service are taken in a fair, equitable and transparent manner, free from personal favoritism, and contribute to the selection of competent individuals in a manner that is consistent with the various legislative requirements. It gives candidates the opportunity to be heard, the manager and/or selection board members the opportunity to explain decisions and the means for corrective action to take place, if required. I expected to find on files a notice of right to appeal/recourse with a valid notice period for appointments made from within the public service.

Again, with the exception of one candidate on the IS-4 selection process, the two competition files reviewed indicate that candidates were notified of their appeal rights.

Even though the right of appeal for the LA-2A was found on another staffing file, and that it was not posted in a timely fashion, the area of selection chosen to provide appeal rights was found to be appropriate. The advice provided by the PSC HR Advisor on the area of selection which is established to provide appeal rights, was too restrictive and, as a result, was challenged by a MPCC manager, who then decided to provide appeal rights to all employees in the National Capital Region.

The deployment recourse notice for the AS-3 did not have an appropriate notice period and the work unit defined for the recourse notice was meaningless. The advice provided by the PWGSC HR Advisor should have encouraged a wider area of recourse than the smallest work unit. Treasury Board's Policy did indicate that if a Deputy Head has not specified a work unit for purposes of determining access to recourse processes, the work unit should be the entire department.

Conclusion

Based on the findings of the audit, it has been concluded that there are no serious deficiencies in the implementation of the Performance Measure for Staffing. However, human resources officials did not completely fulfill their responsibilities to management of the MPCC. Unfortunately, the responsibilities between PWGSC and PSC HR Advisors were not defined sufficiently clearly. Advice provided in some files was conflicting or did not support managers in making appropriate values-based selection decisions. Management of MPCC have shown considerable efforts and due diligence in trying to select individuals in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act and in responding to the recommendations made by the PSC in their report.

Looking forward to the new PSEA

Given the implementation of the new PSEA, it will be important for management of the MPCC to review the Service Agreement with PWGSC. In addition, further clarification is also required from the PSC in regards to their roles (i.e. PSC report indicated that they would be selection board members when in fact they are not).

Implementation of staffing policies and monitoring processes to ensure that appointment processes are done in accordance with the new PSEA and PSC's Appointment Framework will be critical.

A number of policies and guidelines for MPCC will be developed and implemented using the templates provided to small agencies.

PWGSC HR Advisors providing services and advice to MPCC management have achieved the pass mark required for the PSC validation test.

Managers of the MPCC will also be required to attend training in order to understand the flexibilities and requirements of the new Act and Policy framework.

Employees of the MPCC have been invited to an information session on the new Act. The session will be held on January 10, 2006.

Meetings should be held with PWGSC officials to ensure that all actions have been or will be taken to implement the eleven measures in the Staffing Management Accountability Framework that are considered essential for the coming into force of the new staffing regime.

Annex A: Selection processes, April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005
Selection Processes Volume
Appointments with Competition 3
Open competition (external hiring) (student hiring) 1
Closed competition within the public service 2
Appointments without Competition 1
Acting 0
Change in tenure (term to indeterminate) 0
Reclassification 0
Term reappointment 1
Promotion 0
Emergency term appointment 0
Total PSEA Appointments 4
Deployments 1
Total PSEA Selection Processes 5
Secondments 0
TOTAL PROCESSES 5
1 selection process was cancelled but was still reviewed 6

Criteria

The criteria for the audit were drawn from the Performance Measures for Staffing, (Annex B) which was developed in consultation with the PSC and PWGSC.

It was expected to find:

Annex B - Performance Measures for Staffing

The Performance Measures for Staffing, which were developed in consultation with the PSC and PWGSC are linked to PSC values are as follows:
Values Measures
Non-Partisanship
  • Rationale is provided for the type of staffing action chosen.
  • Assessment information is collected and integrated in a way that will identify the qualified candidate
Competence
  • The competencies required are determined objectively and based on the position's requirements.
  • All candidates' qualifications are measured according to the statement of qualifications
Representativeness
  • Efforts are made to attract members of the EE target groups
Fairness
  • The needs of the organization are well-defined prior to commencing a staffing process and
  • The position conforms to the organization's needs
Equity
  • Selection process give appropriate consideration to the appropriate pool of potential candidates
Transparency
  • Employees are duly informed of staffing decisions and results of processes
Affordability/Efficiency
  • Managers and HR advisor's role and responsibilities with regard to staffing are clearly understood
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