Audit of CFIA's Staffing Framework - Audit Report
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The Canadian Food Inspection (CFIA) Act provides the President of CFIA with the authority to appoint employees and to set terms and conditions of employment. It also provides the President with greater flexibility and autonomy and broader opportunities for human resources (HR) management, when compared to Core Public Administration (CPA) Organizations (for which Treasury Board is legally the Employer).
While CFIA is not subject to the Public Service Employment Act, CFIA staffing is compatible with the principles governing staffing under the Act as per the agreement (2008) between the Agency and the Public Service Commission (PSC) that allows for the deployment of employees to and from positions in the core public service. Enabling mobility between the Agency and the CPA provides broad career opportunities for CFIA's employees and assists CFIA in recruiting experienced talent.
CFIA, like the Public Service, subscribes to a values-based approach to staffing. Staffing at the CFIA is built on the values of competency, non-partisanship, fairness, openness, representativeness, access, and efficiency and effectiveness. Staffing authority has been delegated to CFIA managers with the understanding that they and the human resources practitioners who support them are accountable to the President. They are expected to demonstrate, by their actions and decisions, that staffing is carried out in accordance with statutory obligations (e.g. Canadian Human Rights Act, Employment Equity Act, Official Languages Act, etc.) and established values and policies, and in the best interests of CFIA and its mandate.
Over the past few years, the Agency engaged in activities to renew and modernize its legislation, regulations, policies and inspection programs. To support these business and cultural transformations, staffing policies and processes were revised; 2013 saw the creation of the Staffing Framework Policy (SFP), the HRB Staffing Service Delivery Model and the Recruitment and Staffing Risk Assessment. The service delivery model was also developed in response to the 2012 Deficit Reduction Action Plan (DRAP) and subsequent reorganizations within HRB, which resulted in significant reductions of CFIA staffing professionalsFootnote 1. During the audit period, HRB processed approximately 27,400 staffing transactions ranging from acting appointments and extensions to student placements to indeterminate appointments.
The SFP and its associated delivery model were implemented with the intent of transforming staffing services at the Agency by leveraging HR Branch staffing expertise, improving on time to staff and diminishing overall costs for staffing services while ensuring quality of hire.
To support the Agency's continued focus on people, the President announced the creation of the Office of the Staffing Ombudsman (OSO) in December 2013, the first of its kind in the Federal Public Service. The Office provides a channel for employees at all levels to discuss their staffing concerns in confidence, to determine if staffing decisions in question respect the CFIA Staffing Values and the CFIA values and ethics and to contribute to a positive work environment. The Staffing Ombudsman reports to the Chief Redress Officer, Integrity and Redress Secretariat (IRS) which is outside of HRB. During the audit, the OSO completed a review of the HR collective staffing process, concluding that there is a significant need for increased guidance, information, education and written procedures to better understand and use collective staffing as an option to hire; a strengthened planning process is needed to effectively carry out collective staffing; and a more in-depth review of specific standardized assessment tools is warranted.
During the audit, HRB introduced further refinements to the staffing framework for the executive cadre. On April 1, 2015, the Agency implemented the Policy on the Talent Management of CFIA Executives as part of an integrated HR framework. Resourcing of the executive cadre is further guided by the Directive on Executive Resourcing, also effective April 1, 2015.
This audit was performed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the extent to which the CFIA staffing framework supports staffing processes that are aligned with the Agency's staffing values and is appropriately implemented. Where the staffing framework has evolved in recent months, these initiatives were taken into consideration where possible.
The organizational structure of key players involved in the development, delivery and support of staffing as at August 2015 is outlined in Appendix A.
There are five main priorities for the CFIA over the next year. These priorities are meant to help the Agency focus its work on those areas that will help it achieve its most important goals. One of the key priorities is "One Agency" which is about collaboration, relationships, and working together to achieve goals.
A successful staffing regime is integral to the fulfilment of the Agency's One Agency approach as well as its mandate and priorities. Approximately 80% of the Agency's financial expenditures are related to pay and benefits. The CFIA 2015-16 Report on Plans and Priorities identified people management – and its modernization - as a priority that directly enables the broader Agency's goals, stating that "The HR framework is a complete re-tooling of the HR model, away from a traditional, industrial model to a modern, competency-based framework required for inspection modernization to succeed".
Not only is staffing a critical enabler, employee feedback regarding staffing has also been a source of concern. Since 2008, CFIA Public Service Employment Survey (PSES) results have shown that the perception of fairness in staffing is decreasing. The 2014 PSES results also indicate CFIA scores were lower in comparison to the overall Public Service regarding perception of staffing fairness.
Given the importance of a successful staffing regime, significant changes to CFIA's staffing framework, and the decreasing employee perceptions of fairness, the Agency identified an audit of staffing as a high priority for the 2014/15 fiscal year in the 2014/15 to 2016/17 Risk-based Audit Plan.
The objective of the audit was to provide reasonable 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 effectivenessFootnote 2, and
- implemented with appropriate and sufficient planning, oversight, monitoring, training, performance measurement, tools and communications.
The scope of the audit focused on the Agency's staffing framework consisting of, but not limited to, the following CFIA documents: Staffing Framework Policy (2013), HRB Staffing Service Delivery Model (2013) and the Recruitment and Staffing Risk Assessment (2013). The audit also considered, where possible, changes introduced by HRB during the examination phase of the audit. In addition, the audit reviewed the recently introduced Directive on EX Resourcing (2015) and the Policy on Talent Management of CFIA Executives (2015) to consider staffing framework requirements in support of future talent management-based staffing appointment processes.
The audit examined roles, responsibilities and accountability for staffing activities within HRB as well as those relating to hiring managers. Within HR, this included the HR Services Directorate and the Business Line Support Directorate.
A limited review of the OSO's roles and responsibilities in the new staffing framework was also undertaken.
The audit did not include a review of staffing actions to assess compliance with staffing policies, nor did it assess the OSO's performance in meeting its objective.
The audit was conducted from February 2015 to January 2016. The scope of the audit covered staffing activities from April 1, 2013 to December 31, 2015.
The examination phase of the audit was performed using the following approaches:
- Documentation review of the staffing policy suite; performance information (such as productivity, performance indicators and measures, service levels and standards, costs and benchmarks); HRB organization and allocated resources;
- Documentation review relating to roles and responsibilities including governance committees and the OSO;
- Interviews with HRB personnel, the OSO and hiring managers;
- Limited review of staffing appointment files; and,
- Limited enquiry of staffing frameworks for other government departments.
2.6 Statement of Conformance
The audit conforms to the Internal Auditing Standards for the Government of Canada, as supported by the results of the CFIA's internal audit quality assurance and improvement program. Sufficient and appropriate auditing procedures were performed and evidence gathered in accordance with Institute of Internal Auditor's International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing and to provide a high level of assurance over the findings and conclusion in this report. The findings and conclusions expressed in this report are based on conditions as they existed at the time of the audit, and apply only to the entity examined.
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