Action Plan to address the PSC Audit Recommendations and Findings

Introduction  

The Public Service Commission (PSC) conducted an audit of the Office of the Information Commissioner to determine whether it had an appropriate framework, systems and practices in place to manage its appointment activities and whether appointments and appointment processes complied with the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA).  As part of this audit which covered the period from January 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011 the PSC found that there were some areas where the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) was not in compliance or required attention. 
 
The current Commissioner was appointed June 30, 2010. Since her appointment in June 2010, Suzanne Legault has always had full delegated authority.

The HR Director reported directly to the Information Commissioner and was responsible for giving strategic and operational advice and guidance on all HR matters.  On April 1st, 2011 the HR function was transferred under the responsibility of the DG, Corporate Services.  The DG of Corporate Services was mandated to oversee the HR function as well as assess the health of the HR regime within the organization and make recommendations to the Information Commissioner.  The first priority was to review the compensation function which was one of several areas of concern for the Commissioner.

In the summer of 2011, the PSC advised the OIC that they would be conducting a staffing audit.  The OIC welcomed this audit as it would provide an excellent baseline in assessing the health of the staffing regime.  The OIC offered its full support and collaboration to the PSC audit team.

As a result of ongoing discussions with the PSC auditors in the fall of 2011, the OICimplemented a number of actions to improve its practices, including the revision of the staffing checklists to ensure that staffing files are fully documented; the participation of an HR representative in all selection boards; the review of all staffing actions by an independent third party prior to any appointment; the review of the Policy for non-advertised processes; the introduction of the signature of the delegated financial authority on the EPAR as well as ensuring the application of the Wylie decision.

The discussions with the PSC prompted the DG, Corporate Services to pursue different options for the HR Directorate as there were significant indicators of the lack of internal capacity for the HR resources to remain current with the policies and changes occurring in the HR sphere.  As a result, discussions commenced with representatives from PWGSC – Shared Human Resources Services in November 2011 for the provision of some HR services, including the possibility of monitoring the staffing files.

On March 8, 2012, the PSC communicated their audit findings of the 20 appointments that were under review.  Immediate action was taken by the OIC to further safeguard the integrity of the staffing system. These included:  restriction of staffing authorities to the Assistant Information Commissioner and DG, Corporate Services only; review of all staffing actions by an independent third party prior to any appointment being made; mandatory staffing training for managers on March 15-16, 2012 and coaching of HR Advisors by an external consultant.

In addition, the Information Commissioner made the decision on March 23, 2012, to outsource all of the HR functions to an external service provider - PWGSC-Shared HR Services.  The full transfer of services occurred on April 10, 2012.

The above mentioned actions and the speed at which they were implemented, demonstrate the OIC’s commitment to improving the health of the staffing system and our commitment to successfully implement the PSC’s recommendations.

This action plan presents strategies chosen to address PSC’s audit recommendations and findings, timeframe for implementation and indicators that will be used to identify successful implementation. The DG, Corporate Services has been identified as the Office of Primary Interest andwill be responsible for implementing these recommendations from an operational perspective. 

The DG, Corporate Services and the Team Leader, Shared HR Services will be responsible to monitor the progress of this action plan.  A status report will be provided to the Information Commissioner on a semi-annual basis and will be communicated yearly to the PSC as part of the regular Departmental Staffing Accountability Report (DSAR) as well as to the OIC Audit Committee.

Before the end of the fiscal year 2012-2013, an internal audit on the framework, systems and practices in place to manage all of its HR activities will be mandated by the Information Commissioner. Results will be presented and discussed at the Audit Committee. The President of the PSC will be invited to attend this meeting in her capacity of guardian of the integrity of staffing system of the Public Service.

PSC Recommendations

PSC Audit Recommendation 1: 

The deputy head of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada should ensure that sub-delegated manager take an active role in the appointment process and ensure that sufficient documentation supports key decision points and activities with demonstrating, both for advertised and non advertised processes, that the core and guiding values have been respected.

PSC Audit Recommendation 2: 

The deputy head of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada should establish and implement an effective monitoring framework for staffing that provide accurate, reliable, timely and complete information on appointments and should ensure clear understanding of related roles, responsibilities and accountabilities for all stakeholders to allow management to take appropriate actions as required.

PSC Audit Recommendation 3: 

The deputy head of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada should ensure that organizational requirements for sound support by human resources, as included in the sub-delegation instrument, is established, notably by providing approved and compliant staffing policy and guidance, including the implementation of an effective process for non-advertised processes, to achieve conformity with the Appointment Framework.

PSC Audit Recommendation 4: 

The deputy head of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada should ensure Human Resources Advisors complete priority clearance request when needed, and ensure that the request contains accurate and complete information.

Office of the Information Commissioner Action Plan

STRATEGIES / ACTIONS OPI TIMEFRAME INDICATORS
1.1 Proper management of sub-delegation.
  • Review and update the Instrument of Human Resources (HR) Delegation.
OIC April 2012 The Instrument of Delegation was updated and signed by the Commissioner as of April 4, 2012. For the moment, only the Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner and the DG, Corporate Services have delegated and sub-delegated authorities. The Information Commissioner will sub-delegate the OIC managers once she is satisfied that the staffing practices and decisions are aligned with the PSEA and the core guiding values.
Revise the Instrument of HR Delegation. Ensure proper management of the list of sub-delegated managers and that they meet the essentials for staffing sub-delegation by the Commissioner. SHRS - OIC Summer 2012

Ongoing
SHRS will maintain a client binder in which it keeps a record of all sub-delegated managers for the organization and their credentials with regards to the requirements for sub-delegation as determined by the Commissioner.
1.2 Enforce roles, responsibilities and accountability of sub-delegated managers.
  • Stakeholders are consulted (Directors, bargaining agents, employees) regarding the revised sub-delegated instrument.
OIC - SHRS Summer

September
Revised instrument will be sent out for consultation. During the NLMCC, the updated Sub-Delegation Instrument will be discussed.
Information sessions with sub-delegated managers are held to ensure common understanding and its application. OIC SHRS - OIC March 2012

September 2012
A staffing information session was provided to 19 managers of the OIC on March 15 and 16 which discussed the appointment framework and appointment values. The session was provided by the OIC’s HR. This session was delivered by a third party who also delivers the P901 for the Canada School of the Public Service. A mandatory staffing information session will be provided by SHRS to all managers involved in the staffing process. This session is intended to clarify roles, responsibilities and accountabilities related to staffing actions. Information from observations on monthly trends will be used to establish a format for the training.
  • Executive Performance Management Agreements will include a Corporate Commitment – management excellence
OIC - OIC June 2012 OIC will incorporate a Corporate Commitment in the 2012-13 executive performance agreement. The performance indicators will be linked to the staffing values and compliance with GOC and departmental policies and guidelines.
2.1 Appointment Framework and monitoring of Staffing Actions.
  • Monitoring tools (i.e. monitoring checklist, active monitoring framework report, etc.) are developed.
SHRS - OIC July 2012 SHRS will provide a monitoring function which includes: a monitoring implementation plan, random file reviews, monitoring of all high risk appointment files and progress reports. The monitoring function will be provided by a different section than the one providing staffing services to the OIC. The report will be presented to the Senior Management Team of the OIC. If issues are identified the DG, Corporate Services will address them with the Director SHRS. An internal audit on the framework, systems and practices in place to manage all of its HR activities will be mandated by the Information Commissioner. Results will be presented and discussed at the Audit Committee. The President of the PSC will be invited to attend this meeting in her capacity of guardian of the integrity of staffing system of the Public Service.
  • All staffing processes are discussed at the monthly Executive Committee meeting attended by the SHRS lead advisor for the OIC.
OIC Ongoing Executive Committee meetings have a standing item of HR on their agenda. This allows for the discussion of any issues and HR related trends/issues including staffing. The lead SHRS advisor responsible for the OIC will provide updates on all staffing actions and will identify any trends or deficiencies encountered. The OIC audit committee also conducts an annual review of the health of HR.
  • Conduct operational quality control of staffing files, Quality Assurance Program (QAP).
SHRS - OIC Ongoing SHRS has an ongoing Quality Assurance Program (QAP) as a first step in the review and control process for each staffing file. As a second step to ensure staffing actions meet all requirements, a peer review process is also in place for an in-depth and strategic review mechanism. Any issues or concerns flagged will be brought to the attention of the DG, Corporate Services, who will inform the Senior Management Team. Issues will also be addressed with the Director, SHRS.
  • The Staffing Monitoring and Accountability Framework (SMAF) established by the PSC is adhered to.
SHRS - OIC Ongoing The OIC is following the SMAF as set forth by the PSC and will report on it through the DSAR. As service provider, SHRS will ensure that the organization meets the SMAF requirements through its challenge function and when providing advice.
  • Through the monitoring function, SHRS provides reports to senior management identifying its results and findings. The reports will be provided on a semi-annual basis.
SHRS - OIC November 2012

April 2013
Monitoring report will be presented to the Senior Management Team on a semi-annual basis. The analysis will include progress made in improving the health of the staffing regime, identify trends and provide recommendations, if required.
  • Mandatory requirements and potential risks are identified and presented to OIC management.
SHRS - OIC Ongoing Potential risks are immediately flagged to the DG, Corporate Services. Peer monitoring/review of each file will also act as a mechanism to ensure all risks have been identified and presented to DG, Corporate Services.
3.1 Update policies to reflect the requirements of the PSC’s appointment framework policies.
  • Conduct reviews of policies and update them to reflect requirements as identified by the PSC appointment framework policies.
SHRS - OIC Fall 2012 The Non-Advertised policy has recently been reviewed and consultation with unions is underway. All staffing policies will be reviewed and adjusted as needed. Policies will be reviewed on an annual basis.
  • New or reviewed policies are approved (signed off) by the Commissioner.
OIC Ongoing Once consultation is completed, the policy will be submitted to the Executive Committee for approval and to the Commissioner for signature.
3.2 Challenge function and advice provided to managers by HR.
  • Conduct reviews of all assessment tools used to make appointments.
SHRS - OIC Ongoing Assessment tools used during each staffing process will be reviewed during the development stage by the lead HR advisor as identified in the QAP as well as through the monitoring function as a second step in the review process.
  • Sub-delegated managers and managers will be provided with strategic and proper advice in order for them to make informed decisions against staffing actions.
SHRS - OIC Ongoing As indicated in the MOU between the OIC and SHRS, all SHRS HR Advisors providing advice and guidance in the area of staffing have successfully completed the Appointment Framework Knowledge Test (AFKT) within the first 6 months of joining SHRS’ staffing team. Advisors are also required to discuss with other advisors and their team leader any issues that arise. This ensures that appropriate advice is being provided. The challenge function exercised by SHRS is also embedded into the MOU, which enables SHRS to question management’s decisions and to identify risks. If SHRS identify trends that should be corrected in staffing actions, they will immediately be communicated to the DG, Corporate Services who will communicate them to the Senior Management Team.
4.1 Request for priority clearances.
  • Priority clearances are to be requested prior to advertising any appointment. In the case of non-advertised processes, the clearance is to be requested prior to identifying the individual for appointment. The requests must also be entered without any errors.
SHRS - OIC Ongoing Through the SHRS quality assurance program, detailed checklists are on file for each type of staffing process. All requests for priority clearances are reviewed prior to submission to ensure accuracy and timeliness. A report will be submitted to the DG, Corporate Services. If trends are identified, they will immediately be communicated to the Senior Management Team.