Audit of CFIA's Staffing Framework - Audit Report
1.0 Executive Summary

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The Canadian Food Inspection Act provides the President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA or Agency) with the authority to appoint employees and to set terms and conditions of employment. This empowers the Agency with the flexibility and autonomy to design and develop its own human resources (HR) framework, policies and guidelines to meet its unique operational requirements.

An effective HR framework is important for the Agency to coordinate decision-making and staffing activities to support CFIA's goals of enhancing the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy. A robust framework promotes confidence in the integrity of staffing, including respect of its staffing values and statutory requirements. In addition, an effective staffing framework results in hiring the right people, in the right roles, at the right time in a cost-efficient manner to achieve its business objectives.

Staffing authority has been delegated to CFIA managers with the understanding that they and the HR practitioners who support them are accountable to the President for demonstrating, by their actions and decisions, that staffing is carried out in accordance with statutory obligations and established values and policies, and in the best interests of CFIA and its mandate.

To respond to the Agency's transformation and greater efficiency agendas, various staffing policies and processes have been revised including the creation of a new Staffing Framework Policy (SFP) and HR service delivery model, effective April 1, 2013. Together, the staffing framework has a clearly stated objective of reducing resource costs and time to staff, while maximizing the Agency's staffing flexibility. The SFP implementation was also accompanied by a new HR business model, the creation of the Office of the Staffing Ombudsman (OSO), and a concerted effort to promote and implement HRB-led collective staffing processes.

In order to add value, the audit addressed both the operational and strategic levels of the Agency's staffing framework. At the operational level, the audit focused on staffing roles, responsibilities and accountabilities, tools and HRB's staffing performance measurement framework. At the strategic level, the audit assessed HRB's "One Agency" approach to staffing including integrated HR planning and its alignment with CFIA's mandate and strategic objectives. As a result of audit findings, recommendations have also been made at both levels.

Audit Objective

The objective of the Audit of CFIA's Staffing Framework was to provide assurance regarding the extent to which the CFIA staffing framework is:

  • designed to support staffing processes that are aligned with the Agency's staffing values of competency, non-partisanship, fairness, openness, representativeness, access, and efficiency and effectiveness, and
  • implemented with appropriate and sufficient planning, oversight, monitoring, training, performance measurement, tools and communications.

Key Audit Findings

Staffing Framework Design

Under the Agency's staffing framework, managers and HR practitioners are to undertake staffing processes and decisions in accordance with the Agency's staffing values and statutory obligations. The SFP defines the staffing values and requires the application of a balanced approach to meet the Agency's objectives and business requirements. Broad guidance in support of values-based staffing is available on the Agency's intranet.

The audit found that more robust management controls are needed to support the staffing framework and its alignment to the Agency's staffing values.

Accountability and responsibilities are not clearly set out in the CFIA SFP; and active oversight and monitoring, and record keeping have not yet been clearly identified and assigned. HRB has recognized the need to improve the SFP and during the audit drafted a Staffing and Recruitment Framework, and a Staffing and Recruitment Policy that once finalized and approved will replace the SFP.

Staffing Framework Implementation

Staffing needs to be supported by sound human resources planning. While some effort was made to identify Branch planned staffing, Branches do not have HR plans, and there is no consolidated Agency HR Plan. HRB recognizes this gap, and is now working with Branches to develop fulsome HR plans.

The staffing framework assigns staffing processes into three categories: HR-led, joint HR/management-led and management-led processes. This was documented in a heat map, but was not supported with risk assessment methodology and ranking criteria. No further risk-mitigation strategies were identified. There is an opportunity to use this information to inform risk-based monitoring.

Staffing guidance and tools should be strengthened with an emphasis on manager-led processes and in the spirit of a self-serve approach. All information should be consolidated for easy access and navigation. This will assist managers in carrying out their responsibilities and inform all Agency employees of staffing procedures.

Performance Measurement Framework

As a separate employer, we expected HRB to have a Performance Measurement Framework (PMF) in place to showcase the effectiveness of its staffing regime while providing opportunities for continuous improvement.

We found that there was a lack of effective performance measurement framework, including a comprehensive set of performance indicators (outcomes, service standards, cost/efficiency measures), reliable staffing information, regular reporting and monitoring. This may impede the ability of the Agency to evaluate the success of the staffing framework.


The CFIA staffing framework is built on a balanced approach to values-based staffing with the involvement of HRB dependent on the staffing process type. At the time of the audit, the supporting policy suite was still evolving with notable opportunities for improvement. More robust management controls, including clearer accountability for oversight and an updated policy suite are needed to support the integrity of staffing and to assist delegated managers as they take on more responsibilities for certain staffing processes. Agency HR Planning needs to be strengthened to ensure appropriate and adequate resources are in place to meet the Agency's strategic objectives and operational plans. In addition, a staffing performance measurement and reporting system needs to be developed and implemented. A stronger foundation in staffing would enhance a One Agency approach and facilitate values-based staffing.

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