Cyclical staffing assessment 2016-2021
Mandate and mission of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (Commissioner or OPC) is a regulatory agency that endeavours to protect privacy rights in a digital environment without territorial borders. It carries out its mission to protect and promote the privacy rights of individuals in a variety of ways by:
- Investigating complaints, conducting audits and pursuing court action under two federal laws—the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA);
- Publicly reporting on the personal information-handling practices of public and private sector organizations;
- Supporting, undertaking and providing advice and guidance based on research on privacy issues;
- Promoting public awareness.
Background and methodology
It should be noted that the OPC is independent of government and reports directly to Parliament. To this effect, section 6 of the TBS Policy on People Management indicates that the OPC is solely responsible for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the policy within their organizations, as well as addressing any non-compliance. The Internal Audit Committee supports the Commissioner’s role as OPC’s Accounting Officer before Parliament and provides objective advice and recommendations in the areas of risk management, control and governance. With regard to staffing, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner is subject to the requirements of the Appointment Policy and the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument of the Public Service Commission’s (PSC). As a result, the OPC is required to submit a cyclical assessment of its staffing system to the PSC before October 1, 2021.
As part of the implementation of the New Direction in Staffing in April 2016, the PSC refocused its oversight framework and placed greater emphasis on the leadership, accountability and discretion of deputy heads in overseeing staffing within their organizations. Organizational cyclical assessments are a component of this framework. The purpose of these assessments is to review compliance with the requirements of the ADAI, the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), other applicable legislation and regulations, the PSC Appointment Policy, and the organizational staffing policies and the subdelegation instrument. The cyclical assessments serve to inform deputy heads of the strength of their staffing system and facilitate its continuous improvement. These assessments also allow the PSC to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the challenges and successes organizations are experiencing across the federal public service, and to adjust its directions and support, as needed.
For smaller organizations, the ADAI provides that the deputy head may enter into an agreement with the PSC to carry out assessments on their behalf. In spring 2019, a PSC pilot project was launched to give smaller organizations the opportunity to mandate the PSC to carry out cyclical assessments of their organization. The OPC had several options available for meeting its obligation to submit a cyclical assessment to the PSC, but it is in this context that the organization chose to voluntarily join this pilot project, for the following main reasons:
- To comply with the requirement to submit a cyclical evaluation before the deadline;
- To ensure the neutrality of the evaluation – the OPC has a small staffing team and no internal resources suitable for completing an independent assessment;
- The PSC is the federal government agency with expertise in staffing, thus ensuring a rigorous and credible assessment process.
The PSC does not define a specific approach, format or methodology for carrying out cyclical assessments. However, during the pilot project and in its work for the OPC, the PSC followed the broad recommendations set out in its “Cyclical Staffing Assessment” guide, which are:
- Risk assessment to determine the areas and requirements to address in the cyclical assessment. To define the risks, previous ongoing monitoring results must be taken into account, as well as PSC data on OPC staffing activities, including staffing complaints, grievances or investigations requests, the results of the Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey and a structured review of the appointment process.
- Evaluation of the staffing system using either the Commissioner’s Staffing Framework or the OPC Appointment Subdelegation and Accountability Instrument.
- Compliance assessment, i.e., reviewing the basic requirements ensuring the integrity of the staffing system (such as merit, official languages, priority entitlements, employment equity, accommodations, priority entitlements for veterans) by conducting an assessment of an adequate sample of staffing files.
- Drafting a report that outlines significant findings on the strength of the staffing system.
|Initial meeting between OPC and PSC representatives to discuss the terms and conditions of the pilot project||November 13, 2019|
|Signing the Memorandum of Understanding||November 2019|
|Step-by-step file review||January 15, 2020|
|PSC presentation on risk analysis and next steps||November 10 and 13, 2019|
|Submission of staffing files for a compliance assessment||December 22, 2020, to January 26, 2021|
|Meeting to discuss the preliminary results of the compliance assessment||April 6, 2021|
|Submission of the English draft of the PSC report||April 19, 2021|
|Submission of the final bilingual PSC report||May 12, 2021|
|Presentation of the OPC report on the 2016–2021 cyclical staffing assessment to the OPC Audit Committee||June 1, 2021|
|Submission of the OPC report on the 2016–2021 cyclical staffing assessment to the PSC||To be submitted no later than October 1, 2021|
Staffing system assessment
It was determined that the Commissioner’s Staffing Framework and the OPC Appointment Subdelegation and Accountability Instrument meet the ADAI requirements.
Although ongoing monitoring is being performed, it would be beneficial to present the results to senior management on a more regular basis so as to provide an overall picture of the staffing system with a view to continually improving its effectiveness and efficiency.
The results indicate a high rate of overall compliance.
A staffing file revealed differences between the French and English versions of the required qualifications (use of “and,” “or,” and “and/or.”)
A staffing file, considered an external appointment that was not advertised by the OPC, raised questions from the PSC concerning obligations on the part of organizations with regard to postings. During the review, the PSC sought clarification from its Policy Directorate and it was determined that the OPC had applied the general understanding of the term “advertised.” The PSC recalled the President’s statement, issued in May 2019, that “all advertised job opportunities for organizations covered by the Public Service Employment Act are to be posted on the GC Jobs website,” but also acknowledges that it has not yet issued clear guidance on this issue for organizations.
Response from the HR directorate
The HR Directorate is satisfied with this positive result. Throughout the cyclical staffing assessment process, the PSC kept HR representatives informed of the methodology used and provided a progress report. As a result, the HR Directorate agrees with the process and is confident that the findings are an accurate reflection of the strength of the OPC staffing system.
For the purpose of continuous improvement, the OPC’s Human Resources Strategic Plan 2020-2023 already includes certain actions related to staffing, such as the review of the Staffing Framework. This review will focus mainly on the current risk-based staffing approach and the Staffing Monitoring Framework. The HR Directorate is considering the direction it wishes to take with regard to ongoing monitoring activities and is exploring certain ideas of other organizations, such as effectiveness and efficiency reviews, duration of staffing processes, analysis of internal data, government staffing trends and priorities, quality of hire, etc. Implementation of the new Staffing Framework is scheduled for the second half of 2021–2022 and the HR Directorate will ensure it continues to respect the requirements prescribed by the PSC and the applicable reference tools.
The following activities, some of which are included in the Human Resources Strategic Plan 2020-2023, will also serve to present staffing results to senior management in a more formal manner:
- Participating in government initiatives (e.g., call to action on employment equity, diversity and inclusion, hiring targets for persons with disabilities, linguistic insecurity);
- Obtaining HR data to facilitate analysis and reporting/recommendations;
- Results of the 2021 upcoming Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey.
With respect to the PSC’s note on differences between the French and English versions of the required qualifications, the staffing team and subdelegates must continue to pay particular attention to this aspect when reviewing qualifications. It is important that the qualifications be identical in both official languages so as to avoid impacting individuals who are eligible to apply or participate in the appointment process, or its outcome. A new template for the Statement of Merit Criteria, which should allow for more effective comparison, will be tested by May 31, 2021. This issue will also be addressed by working toward developing brief, clear and unambiguous qualifications. Where possible, qualifications should also be translated by the Translation Department. Professional translations would ensure greater vigilance of these elements The HR Directorate plans to contact the internal Translation Department and remind them of the importance of fair and equivalent translations. The HR Directorate is confident that the following actions will reduce the incidence of such errors in documents:
- Implementation of the new template;
- Awareness raising within the internal Translation Department;
- Continuation of the review of documentation (including Statements of Merit Criteria, Rating Guides, etc.) by the staffing team; and
- Approval from staffing subdelegates prior to posting on the GC Jobs website.
Lastly, with respect to the point raised by the PSC regarding posting requirements, the HR Directorate will continue to respect the PSC’s Appointment Policy by ensuring that job postings appear on the Government of Canada Public Service Resourcing System website. It should be noted that the staffing strategy for the appointment process referenced in the PSC report initially involved a non-advertised process. This background explains the lack of job postings on the Public Service Resourcing System website. It was also noted that the PSC has not issued clear guidance on this issue. In the event that such guidance is issued by the PSC, the OPC staffing team will ensure that the described requirements are met and will consult the PSC Staffing Support Advisor when in doubt.
Attestation of the deputy head
In accordance with the requirements of the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument, I am submitting to the Public Service Commission the cyclical organizational assessment report completed this year.
(Original signed by)
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Appendix A – OPC cyclical assessment report (evaluation completed by the PSC)
Cyclical assessment report for the office of the privacy commissioner
Assessment conducted by the Public Service Commission
Final Report Submission Date to Organization: May 12, 2021
Table of Contents
- Staffing priorities and challenges identified by the organization:
- Organizational staffing data:
- Results from Survey of Non-Partisanship and Staffing:
- Highlights from oversight mechanisms:
- File walkthrough:
- Organizational staffing system – ADAI Section 1
- Sub-delegation – ADAI Section 2
- Monitoring and reporting – ADAI Section 3
- Scope and sampling
- Compliance results
- Overview of compliance results
About the cyclical assessment
As per section 3 of the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument (ADAI), deputy heads must assess, on a cyclical basis, at least once every 5 years, adherence to the requirements established in the instrument, the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), other applicable statutes and regulations, the PSC’s Appointment Policy, as well as organizational staffing policies and the sub-delegation instrument. This cyclical assessment was conducted by the PSC on behalf of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC).
As part of this cyclical assessment, the PSC held various discussions with organizational representatives, and analyzed relevant sources of information, such as PSC-held data and organizational policies, guidelines, plans and key staffing documents. The PSC performed a risk assessment to identify the areas and requirements that the cyclical staffing assessment should focus on, as well as the scope period and the sample of staffing actions to be examined.
An assessment was conducted of the various components of the OPC’s organizational staffing system (framework), including sub-delegation and monitoring and reporting components, to determine whether the requirements of the PSC’s ADAI were met and to identify areas of strength as well as areas requiring improvements. A small sample of appointments was also examined to assess adherence with core requirements of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), other applicable statutes and regulations, the ADAI, the PSC Appointment Policy as well as organizational staffing policies and the sub-delegation instrument.
The PSC’s cyclical assessment performed on behalf of the OPC concluded that:
Assessment of organizational staffing framework: the deputy head of the OPC has implemented the requirements of an organizational staffing system identified in the PSC ADAI and the ADAI requirements for sub-delegation. With regard to the ADAI requirements on monitoring and reporting, we noted that communicating more often the results of ongoing monitoring of staffing activities to senior management could provide a fuller picture of the organization’s staffing system with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness.
Assessment of compliance of appointments processes: overall compliance on staffing requirements is generally high with respect to proper consideration of persons with a priority entitlement, merit and other appointment related authorities.
In April 2016, as part of the Public Service Commission (PSC)’s renewed oversight framework, deputy heads were provided with greater accountability and discretion to oversee staffing activities within their organization. As part of this accountability, deputy heads are required to monitor and report on their staffing oversight activities as described in the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument (ADAI).
Under section 3 of the ADAI, deputy heads must assess, on a cyclical basis, at least once every 5 years, adherence to the requirements established in the instrument, the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), other applicable statutes and regulations, the PSC’s Appointment Policy, as well as organizational staffing policies and the sub-delegation instrument.
These cyclical assessment results must be shared with the PSC in the year the assessment is completed, either separately or as a component of the annual reporting to the PSC, as required by Annex D of the ADAI. All organizations must submit their cyclical assessment reports to the PSC by October 1st, 2021.
Cyclical assessments are an important component of the renewed oversight approach. They allow deputy heads to take a broad look at the health of their staffing system and identify areas that need to be strengthened, as well as potential measures to address weaknesses. Cyclical assessments also allow the PSC to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of the challenges and successes organizations are experiencing across the federal public service and allow the PSC to adjust its guidance and support as required.
According to the ADAI, deputy heads of smaller organizations may establish an arrangement with the PSC to conduct their cyclical assessments on their behalf.
In the spring of 2019, the PSC engaged with smaller organizations interested in seeking the assistance of the PSC to conduct the cyclical assessment on their behalf to participate in a pilot project. As a result, 12 participating organizations established an arrangement with the PSC as part of this Cyclical Assessment Pilot Project.
It is within this context that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) asked the PSC to carry out this cyclical assessment on its behalf.
Overview of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Mandate and Mission:
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) was established in 1983 following the passage of the Privacy Act, which governs the personal information handling practices of federal departments and agencies. In 2001, the duties of the OPC were extended to include private sector businesses subject to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada’s federal private-sector privacy law.
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, who is independent of government, is an Agent of Parliament and so reports directly to Parliament. Its mission is to protect and promote privacy rights of individuals. The OPC oversees compliance with the Privacy Act, which covers the personal information-handling practices of federal government departments and agencies, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada’s federal private-sector privacy law.
Size of the organization and number of employees:
The OPC is a small organization. As of April 1, 2021, the OPC reported having 230 employees, including indeterminate and term employees and casual and student employment.
As an agent of Parliament, the OPC is responsible to monitor and ensure compliance with the Policy on Internal Audit and must establish and maintain an audit committee. The members of these committees are not appointed through the Treasury Board appointment process led by the Comptroller General of Canada. The OPC’s departmental audit committee plays a key role over compliance matters, including staffing.
In the 2019 federal budget, the OPC received a recurrent $4M and temporary $1.1M to reduce the backlog of privacy complaints older than one year and give Canadians more timely resolution of their complaints.
While there is no prescribed approach or methodology for conducting a cyclical staffing assessment, the PSC guidance states that the assessment should be rigorous and provide for reliable, relevant results. In addition, it should be “complemented by a risk assessment” to identify the areas and the requirements that the cyclical assessment should focus on. Moreover, the assessment should include an evaluation of the organizational staffing framework (e.g. policies in place, sub-delegation instrument) and should examine a sample of appointment files for compliance.
The PSC’s Staffing Oversight Reference Tool (SORT) is a resource that outlines various requirements stemming from the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), other applicable statutes and regulations, the PSC’s Appointment Policy, and the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument (ADAI) from the PSC to Deputy Heads. While the tool is not an exhaustive list of all staffing-related requirements, and its use is optional, it was used as part of our methodology to identify the areas and requirements that the cyclical assessment should focus on.
As part of this cyclical assessment, the PSC met with organizational representatives, conducted additional interviews, and analyzed relevant sources of information, such as PSC-held data and organizational policies, guidelines, plans and key staffing documents.
Based on the OPC staffing context, the PSC performed a risk assessment to identify the areas and requirements that the cyclical staffing assessment should focus on, as well as the scope period and the sample of staffing actions to be examined.
The risk assessment took into consideration quantitative and qualitative information such as organizational staffing data, staffing priorities and challenges identified by the organization, results from previous ongoing monitoring, results from a staffing file walkthrough to gain an understanding of key staffing practices and tools, staffing-related complaints and grievances or investigation requests, and other available relevant information.
We then conducted a systemic assessment of the various components of the OPC’s organizational staffing system (framework), including sub-delegation and monitoring and reporting components, to determine whether the requirements of the PSC’s ADAI were met and to identify areas of strength as well as areas requiring improvements.
Finally, we examined a small sample of appointments to assess adherence with core requirements of the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA), other applicable statutes and regulations, the ADAI, the PSC Appointment Policy as well as organizational staffing policies and the sub-delegation instrument.
Results from Organizational Risk Assessment
As indicated in the previous section, we considered quantitative and qualitative sources of information as part of our risk assessment of the OPC. Key results are outlined below:
Staffing priorities and challenges identified by the organization:
As a small organization, the OPC is committed to retain and invest in its current workforce. However, given the organization’s size, employees may have to look outside the organization for career progression or promotions. The OPC mentioned that it is not an organization that is necessarily well-known by public servants, which may explain the challenges in recruitment. In the past 2 years, the OPC has been the subject of media attention, which may have a positive impact on their future ability to attract candidates.
Due to the OPC’s very specific mandate, another factor in staffing is the need for specialized knowledge skills (i.e. application and interpretation of the Privacy Act) which leads to recruitment challenges. Moreover, due to its small size, a vacancy can have considerable impact on the ability to deliver on business requirements and result in significant gaps.
Organizational staffing data:
The table below provides an overview of the OPC’s staffing activities since the implementation of the New Direction in Staffing in 2016.
The top occupational groups at the OPC are AS (Administrative Services), PM (Program Administration) and CS (Computer Systems).
Results from Survey of Non-Partisanship and Staffing:
The Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey (SNPS) was conducted between February 22 to April 20, 2018. The OPC’s overall response rate for the 2018 SNPS was 46.8% which is slightly lower than the average response rate for similar sized organizations (52.8%).
The results of the SNPS were generally positive for the OPC. The majority of respondents were in agreement that staffing was done in a transparent and fair manner, and the vast majority of managers stating they understand the new direction in staffing and the OPC’s staffing policies. Slightly more than half of managers indicated that the staffing options available to them within their organization allowed them to address their staffing needs as quickly as required.
Highlights from oversight mechanisms:
A review of published audit reports and decisions from various oversight mechanisms between April 1, 2016 and April 1, 2021 showed the following:
- PSC Audits: The OPC has not been a participant in any PSC system-wide audits.
- PSC Investigations: NIL
- Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (PSLREB) Complaints: NIL
- Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) decisions: NIL
As part of our risk assessment for this cyclical assessment, a file walkthrough exercise was conducted with organizational representatives to gain an understanding of the OPC’s management of its staffing processes.
We examined an internal advertised process and the OPC human resources representative confirmed they utilize the same approach when working on external advertised processes. The procedures and steps observed in the appointment file reviewed were aligned with the OPC’s established staffing framework.
During the file walkthrough exercise, there was a discussion on how validation of education credentials was conducted at the OPC as it was unclear whether there was a formal process in place. Since then, the OPC confirmed that HR is systematically looking at the original version of education credentials and there is an established practice to share the education information between HR and Security to avoid duplication.
Assessment of Organizational Staffing Framework
Deputy heads must establish requirements of the organizational staffing framework as set out in the PSC Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument (ADAI). These are outlined and results of our evaluation are reported below.
The scope of our assessment included an examination of the OPC’s staffing policies and related documentation covering the period of April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2021.
The OPC’s Staffing Framework took effect on July 1, 2016 and is intended to provide a roadmap that focuses on core requirements where subdelegated managers can apply sound judgment in an environment of greater flexibility and accountability.
The OPC Staffing Framework is composed of the Staffing System Regime, and 6 associated Modules:
- Module 1: The OPC Staffing System Policy
- Module 2: Directive on the Choice of Appointment Process (advertised and non-advertised)
- Module 3: Policy on Area of Selection
- Module 4: Directive on the Articulation of Selection Decision
- Module 5: Risk-Based Staffing Approach
- Module 6: Staffing Monitoring Framework
Organizational staffing system – ADAI Section 1
The deputy head of the OPC has implemented the requirements of an organizational staffing system identified in the PSC ADAI as described below:
1. Establish a policy on area of selection for internal appointment processes that, at a minimum:
- Provides reasonable access when advertising;
- Provides reasonable access to recourse; and
- Respects the lifeline provisions of employees from Veterans Affairs Canada and the National Energy Board
Module 3 of the OPC Staffing Framework outlines the new Policy on Area of Selection which was approved by the deputy head with the effective date of July 1st, 2016. This Policy respects the above ADAI requirements.
2. Establish direction, through policy, planning or other means, on the use of advertised and non-advertised appointment processes
Module 2 of the OPC’s Staffing Framework outlines the Directive on the Choice of Appointment Process (advertised and non-advertised) which was approved by the deputy head with the effective date of July 1st, 2016. The Directive outlines the key considerations the sub-delegated managers should think of when choosing between advertised and non-advertised process types.
3. Establish requirement(s) for sub-delegated persons to articulate, in writing, their selection decision.
Module 4 of the OPC’s Staffing Framework outlines the Directive on the Articulation of the Selection Decision was approved by the deputy head with the effective date of July 1st, 2016. The Directive includes requirements for sub-delegated persons to articulate, in writing, their selection decision.
4. Consult with the employer or bargaining agents with respect to organizational staffing policies upon request, or if they consider such consultations necessary or desirable.
Organizational HR representatives explained that they were not employed at the OPC when the current organizational staffing policies were developed, and as such are unable confirm whether consultations with the employer and bargaining agents were requested or deemed necessary at the time.
Sub-delegation – ADAI Section 2
In sub-delegating appointment and appointment-related authorities, the deputy head of the OPC has implemented the ADAI requirements for sub-delegation as described below:
1. Identify and document the appointment and appointment-related authorities being sub-delegated and to whom those authorities are being sub-delegated.
The OPC deputy head identified and documented the appointment and appointment-related authorities being sub-delegated and to whom those authorities are being sub-delegated in its Sub-Delegation Instrument, effective April 1, 2018.
As of April 2020, the OPC had 42 sub-delegated managers: 25 managers are sub-delegated to conduct assessment processes and 17 managers have the sub-delegated authority to make appointments.
2. Establish training pre-requisites for sub-delegation.
The deputy head of the OPC has established training pre-requisites for various sub-delegation authorities. For example, to conduct an appointment process, the managers must have completed the in-house staffing orientation training offered by the HR unit. Whereas in order to make an appointment, managers must have successfully completed either the P901 – Staffing: A Resourcing Tool for Managers, an equivalent in-house training in an organization subject to the PSEA or an acceptable combination of knowledge, training or experience, and have completed the in-house staffing orientation training.
3. Prior to sub-delegating, ensure that persons being sub-delegated:
- Have completed the required training;
The OPC HR Training team is responsible for ensuring the training pre-requisites are completed before the HR Staffing team proceeds with the sub-delegating process. The HR Staffing team then proceeds to verify whether the required financial delegation training is completed, provide the in-house training and then prepares the letter of sub-delegation.
- And; have signed an attestation form that, at a minimum, includes the requirements found in Annex C:
According to the OPC Sub-Delegation Instrument, signing of the sub-delegation letter combined with the attestation form is a pre-requisite to being sub-delegated. The OPC attestation form includes the requirements found in Annex C of the ADAI. In addition, the OPC attestation form states that should sub-delegated managers break any of the terms of the agreement, it might result in withdrawal, restriction or additional conditions to the sub-delegated authorities including disciplinary and performance actions depending on the nature of the contravention or abuse.
4. Provide, in writing, to persons being sub-delegated, the terms and conditions of sub-delegation and the appointment and appointment-related authorities being sub-delegated:
Once the training pre-requisites are completed and an attestation form has been signed by the person to be sub-delegated, a sub-delegation letter with a copy of the Sub-Delegation Instrument is issued. The Sub-Delegation Instrument includes the terms and conditions of sub-delegation and the appointment and appointment-related authorities being sub-delegated. Once the letter of sub-delegation has been signed by the person being sub-delegated it is returned to HR Staffing team who maintains the list of sub-delegated persons.
5. Ensure that sub-delegated persons are provided with the information and human resources advice and services they require to exercise their sub-delegated authorities.
The responsibility of Human Resources to provide sub-delegated managers with sound and persuasive advice is outlined in Section 6 - Corrective Measures and Revocation of the OPC’s Sub-Delegation Instrument. The OPC’s Staffing Framework also reinforces the need for HR to provide consistent, timely strategic HR advice and guidance to managers on the application of the Public Service Employment Act and related regulations, the PSC Appointment Policy and on the OPC’s own staffing framework.
Monitoring and reporting – ADAI Section 3
The deputy head of the OPC has implemented the ADAI requirements for monitoring and reporting as described below:
As per the ADAI, deputy heads must:
1. As a component of the on-going monitoringFootnote 1 of their staffing system, assess on a cyclical basis, adherence to the requirements established in this delegation instrument, the PSEA, other applicable statutes and regulations, the PSC’s Appointment Policy, as well as organizational staffing policies and the sub-delegation instrument.
In 2017, the OPC hired a consultant to conduct a staffing monitoring of files exercise covering the fiscal years from 2014-2017. The review included 75 files, including all non-advertised and a random selection of all other types of appointments per year. The report identified how risks related to non-advertised staffing actions were managed with the advice from HR advisors, and included observations relating to assessment, employment equity, file maintenance, and letters of offer among others. The report concluded that “in terms of general risk assessment, none of the files reviewed contained errors that would have led to significant risks to the organization (…).”
The OPC representatives explained that while no other formal staffing monitoring exercise was performed since then, they do regularly monitor staffing activities using a checklist but that reporting of results to senior management is on an ad-hoc basis. Reporting of results on ongoing monitoring of staffing activities on a regular basis could provide senior management with a fuller picture of its staffing system with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness.
2. Ensure that appropriate remedial action is taken to address any deficiencies.
To address the observations resulting from 2018 staffing monitoring exercise conducted by the consultant, the HR team prepared a Staffing File Review - Summary Report 2017 (Action Plan) that included the status of the recommended actions for each staffing file reviewed.
In addition, the HR Directorate made a presentation on key findings and corrective actions taken to address identified deficiencies to the OPC’s Departmental Audit Committee on June 15, 2018. The presentation also outlined the various control measures implemented to support the continuous use of good practices and the improvement of staffing tools.
3. Report to the PSC on areas identified in Annex D of the ADAI:
On a yearly basis, deputy heads must report to the Public Service Commission (PSC) on:
- The use of the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order and the Public Service Official Languages Appointment Regulations.
- Approved deputy head exceptions to the national area of selection requirement for external advertised appointment processes.
- The results of required organizational cyclical assessments if they are completed during the year.
- The results of any internal investigations, if undertaken in a given year.
Since the implementation of NDS, the OPC has annually reported to the PSC on the areas identified in Annex D of the ADAI.
Assessment of Compliance
With respect to assessing compliance, while departments and agencies are accountable for adhering to all legislative and policy requirements, deputy heads can determine the depth and extent of the requirements to be assessed in their cyclical assessment.
As a starting point, core requirements that assure the integrity of the staffing system can be considered, such as:
- official languages
- priority entitlements
- employment equity
- accommodation measures
- preference to veterans
The scope of the assessment should also include an adequate sample of appointment files to understand the health of the staffing system from a compliance perspective. Variables that were considered included:
- volume of appointments
- categories of appointments:
- advertised and non-advertised
- external and internal
- indeterminate, terms and acting appointments
- headquarters and regions
- types of jobs (categories, groups, levels)
- executive and non-executive appointments
Scope and sampling
Based on the results of the risk assessment and the evaluation of the organizational staffing system outlined in the previous sections of this report, we examined a targeted sample of appointments made between June 1, 2018 and December 31, 2020 to assess adherence to legislative and policy requirements.
Please refer to Annex A for a list of the core requirements examined as part of this cyclical assessment.
Considering persons with a priority entitlement
What we expected:
The Public Service Employment Act and the Public Service Employment Regulations provide an entitlement for certain persons who meet specific conditions to be appointed in priority to others. According to the PSC’s Appointment Policy, deputy heads must assess persons with a priority entitlement and must respect requirements to administer priority entitlements as set out in the Priority Administration Directive, including obtaining priority clearance from the agency before proceeding with an appointment process or an appointment.
What we found:
- A priority clearance was required for six of ten appointment processes examined. In all six of these, a priority clearance was obtained from the PSC before the appointment was made. In addition, in all six appointment processes, persons with a priority entitlement were assessed.
- In one of the six appointment processes where a priority clearance was required, we found differences among the essential qualifications and/or conditions of employment identified in the request for priority clearance and those applied in the appointment process and decision, which may have prevented persons with a priority entitlement from being fairly considered.
- In the six appointment processes where a priority clearance was required, there were no differences with respect to appointment tenure and/or the appointment process type between those identified in the request for priority clearance and those applied in the appointment process and decision.
What we expected:
According to the PSC’s Appointment Policy, deputy heads must apply a national area of selection for external advertised appointment processes, except as set out in Annex A of the Appointment Policy.
In addition, they must ensure that advertisements are posted on the Government of Canada public service resourcing website and are accessible to persons in the area of selection for a minimum of one complete business day (at least 24 hours).
In May 2019 the President of the PSC issued a statement on the requirement to post jobs advertisements on the GC Jobs website reiterating that the PSC Appointment Policy is clear that “all advertised job opportunities for organizations covered by the Public Service Employment Act are to be posted on the GC Jobs websites.” He went on to state that social media and other advertisement means are key…but should not replace the required publication on the GC Jobs website.”
What we found:
The sample included one external appointment process which was considered a non-advertised by the organization although a call for applications was posted on a regional professional association website. As per the staffing file, three candidates communicated their interest, two were interviewed, and one was appointed to a term position.
Based on this information, we questioned whether this external appointment process should have been treated as an advertised process and as such whether:
- the advertisement should have been made on the Government of Canada public service resourcing website;
- the advertisement should have been posted in both in both English and French to respect official languages obligations; and
- a national area of selection should have been applied or an exception sought and approved by the deputy head.
We sought PSC appointment policy clarification and were informed that the appointment process in question appears to be consistent with the general understanding of the term advertised. We recognize that the PSC has not yet published guidance on this subject, however, direction was provided to organizations in the President’s statement published in May 2019, noted on the right.
What we expected:
The Public Service Employment Act requires that appointments to and within the public service be based on merit. Section 30 (2) of the Act sets out the elements to be considered in determining merit, which include essential qualifications for the work to be performed and, if applicable, any asset qualifications, operational requirements and/or organizational needs identified by the deputy head.
As per the PSC’s Appointment Policy Annex B, deputy heads must ensure that information related to the appointment, such as the assessment and results of all candidates, is accessible electronically or through other means for a minimum period of 5 years.
What we found:
In ten out of ten appointments the appointee met the essential qualifications, including education and official languages proficiency.
In ten out ten appointments, the appointee met asset qualifications, operational requirements and organizational needs applied for the appointment.
Official languages obligations
What we expected:
According to the PSC’s Appointment Policy, deputy heads must respect official languages obligations throughout the appointment process, such as providing complete and accurate information concerning the appointment process in both official languages. This requirement also reinforces the commitment set out in the Official Languages Act to ensure that the Government of Canada provides English- and French-speaking Canadians with equal employment and advancement opportunities in federal institutions.
What we found:
Priority clearance requests: We examined six appointment processes for which a priority clearance request was required and obtained. We found differences between the French and the English versions of the priority request in one of these appointment processes.
Assessment tools: We examined two appointment processes which required bilingual tools. We found no differences between the French and the English versions of the assessment tools.
Notifications: We examined six appointment processes for which a notification was required. We found differences between the French and English versions of the notifications (i.e. merit criteria) in one of these appointment processes.
Preference to veterans and Canadian citizens
What we expected:
In accordance with Section 39 (1) of the Public Service Employment Act, in an advertised external appointment process, any of the following who meet the essential qualifications referred shall be appointed ahead of other qualified candidates, in the following order: a person who is in receipt of a pension by reason of war service, a veteran or a survivor of a veteran, and a Canadian citizen, within the meaning of the Citizenship Act, in any case where a person who is not a Canadian citizen is also a candidate.
What we found:
The sample of appointments reviewed did not include an external advertised appointment process where a candidate was appointed ahead of a qualified person to whom the preferences as outlined above apply.
What we expected:
As per the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument, sub-delegated persons must have signed the attestation form prior to making the offer of appointment.
What we found:
In nine of the ten appointments examined, the person who made the offer of appointment had signed the attestation form prior to making the offer. In the remaining instance, the attestation form was not required as the person who made the offer of appointment was the deputy head.
Oath or solemn affirmation
What we expected:
As per Section 54 of the Public Service Employment Act, the oath or solemn affirmation is a condition of appointment for appointments that are made from outside the public service. As per Section 55 of the Public Service Employment Act, the effective date of appointment for a person being newly appointed to the public service is the later of either the date agreed to in writing by the sub-delegated manager and the appointee, or the date on which the appointee takes the oath or solemn affirmation.
What we found:
We examined two external appointments and found that the oath or solemn affirmation was taken on or before the date of the appointment identified in the offer of appointment.
Overview of compliance results
Table 1 below provides a summary of the results from the review sample. The results indicate that overall compliance on staffing requirements is generally high with respect to proper consideration of persons with a priority entitlement, merit and other appointment related authorities.
|Official languages (OL)||Merit:
|Oath or solemn
Compliant ✓ [check]; Partially compliant ◬ [triangle]; Non-compliant X; Require Information ?; Not Applicable NA
Overall, the cyclical assessment found that the deputy head of the OPC has implemented the requirements of an organizational staffing system identified in the PSC’s Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument. That said, the OPC is encouraged to communicate more often to senior management the results of its ongoing monitoring of staffing activities, to provide a fuller picture of the staffing system with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness.
Regarding compliance with staffing requirements, the review of a targeted sample of appointment files indicated that overall compliance is generally high with respect to proper consideration of persons with a priority entitlement, official languages obligations, merit, and other appointment-related authorities.
Annex A: List of Compliance Requirements Examined
|Applied a national area of selection for external advertised appointment, except as set out in Annex A.||Appointment Policy, s 6 and Annex A, 3|
|The organization obtained a priority clearance number for the appointment (if required)||Appointment Policy s 2, Annex B 2
Priority Administration Directive s 8.2.6, 8.2.7
Public Service Employment Act s 38, 39.1, 40, 41(1),
Public Service Employment Regulations s 4(1) – (10)
|If section 43 of the Public Service Employment Act was invoked for a non-application of priority entitlement, evidence to support the reasons was on file||Public Service Employment Act s 43|
|There were no differences between the requirements used in the request for priority clearance and those used to make the appointment given that differences might prevent persons with priority entitlements from being considered. Particular attention were provided to:
||Appointment Policy s 2
Priority Administration Directive s 8.2.4, 8.2.6
|Interested persons with a priority entitlement identified by the Public Service Commission or who self-refer were assessed before assessing other persons||Appointment Policy s 1
Priority Administration Directive s 8.2.4
|Official languages obligations||References|
|There were no differences between the French and English versions of the following that could have had an impact on persons eligible to apply/participate in the appointment process or its outcome:
||Appointment Policy s 5 (Official language)
Official languages Act, s 39(1), (2), (3)
|Assessment of merit||References|
|The education requirement (essential qualification) med or exceeded the applicable Treasury Board Secretariat qualification standard established by the employer||Appointment Policy s 15, Annex B1,5
Treasury Board Secretariat, Qualification standards
Public Service Employment Act s 31(1) (2), 32
|The person appointed met the greater of the required education/occupational certification or the applicable qualification standard (essential qualification). Canadian equivalency was obtained if applicable.||Appointment Policy s 15, Annex B1,5
Treasury Board Secretariat, Qualification Standards
Public Service Employment Act s 30 (1) (2) (3)
|The person appointed, including those appointed with a priority entitlement, met all other established essential qualifications (merit criteria) including the official language proficiency||Appointment Policy s 15, Annex B1,5
Public Service Employment Act s 30 (1) (2), 31(1) (2), 36, 38
|The person appointed met the asset qualifications, operational requirements and/or organizational needs applied in the appointment decision||Appointment Policy s 15, Annex B1,5
Public Service Employment Act s 30 (1) (2) (3)
|Public Service Commission approval was received prior to using psychological tests of intelligence, personality, integrity and aptitude tests, and tests of mental health (if applicable)||Appointment Policy s 9
Public Service Commission approval of psychological tests
|Preferences (External advertised processes)||References|
|For an advertised external appointment process, the order of preference was respected||Public Service Employment Act s 39(1), 40, 41|
|For an appointment from outside the Public Service, the oath or solemn affirmation was taken and subscribed to by the person appointed on or before the date the appointment took effect||Public Service Employment Act s 54, 55, 134
Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument, Annex B10
|The person who made the offer of appointment had signed an attestation form that, at a minimum, includes the requirements found in Annex C of the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument||Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument s2,3.b,
Annex C – Attestation form
Annex B: Next Steps for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner
1. Corrective actions planned or taken (if applicable)
As per the PSC guide on Cyclical Assessment, when reporting on results, the OPC should consider including information on correctives measures or improvements (taken or planned), if applicable. This can be provided as an annex to the cyclical assessment report.
2. Submission of Cyclical Assessment Report to the PSC by October 1, 2021
Departments and agencies must share their cyclical staffing assessment results of selected requirements with the PSC in the year the assessment is completed, either separately or as a component of their annual reporting to the PSC on the reporting requirements found in Annex D of the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument.
Deputy Head Attestation:
As per the Appointment Delegation and Accountability Instrument requirements, I submit to the Public Service Commission my organization’s cyclical assessment report that was completed this year.
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