Archived – Audit of Departmental Succession Planning

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Project Number 6B113
Final Audit Report
September 25, 2009

Table of Contents

List of Acronyms

CCG - Canadian Coast Guard
CPSA - Canada Public Service Agency
DAC - Departmental Audit Committee
DFO - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
DMC - Departmental Management Committee
DMC - HR Sub-committee Departmental Management Committee Human Resources Sub-committee
HR - Human Resources
IOHRP - Integrated Operational Human Resources Planning (On-lineTool)
MAF - Management Accountability Framework
NMWD - National Model Work Description
OCHRO - Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer
PMP - Performance Management Program
PSC - Public Service Commission
TBS - Treasury Board Secretariat

1.0 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1.1 Introduction

The Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) 2008 Corporate Risk Profile approved at the Departmental Management Committee (DMC) meeting of January 2008 identified Human Capital as the most significant risk to the Department. This risk was defined as DFO's inability to attract, develop and retain sufficiently qualified human resources to deliver on its mandate. The Human Capital risk is associated with maintaining a sufficient and representative workforce with the appropriate skill-mix, and the timely access to complete and appropriate information for effective operations and decision-making.  This risk affects all DFO regions and sectors, including the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG).

Given the anticipated high rates of staff attrition predicted to occur over the next eight to ten years, the Departmental Audit Committee (DAC) approved the Audit of Departmental Succession Planning as part of DFO’s 2008/09 – 2010/11 Multi-year Risk-based Audit Plan.

1.2 Objectives and Scope

The objective of the audit was to provide assurance on the adequacy of the management control framework for departmental succession planning.

The audit assessed the succession planning processes for the 2007-2008 fiscal year along with changes implemented for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.  The audit focused on the succession planning processes for key positions and occupational groups.  Key positions or occupational groups are those that exert critical influence on the operational activities or the strategic objectives of the organization.

The scope of the audit included all DFO sectors/ regions/CCG and Headquarters, and an examination of the recently completed succession plans, including risks and mitigation strategies for the 2008-11 period, presented by sectors and CCG at the DMC HR Subcommittee in December 2008.

We wish to express our appreciation for the cooperation and assistance provided to the audit team by management and staff of the sectors, regions, CCG, Headquarters, and especially the staff of Human Resources.

1.3 Statement of Assurance

In our opinion, the auditors have examined sufficient, relevant evidence and obtained sufficient information and explanations to provide a high level of assurance on the reported opinion or conclusions.

1.4 Overall Assessment

Overall, succession planning for DFO has been successfully developed and implemented. The audit recommendations should contribute to further improve the management control framework of succession planning for the department.  The Management Control Framework governing the Department’s succession planning activities is mostly in place and being administered in accordance with Central Agency and departmental policies and directives.  With continued leadership from the Deputy Minister and the Succession Planning Champions, as well as the support of Human Resources, DFO will be in a position to move from succession planning to succession management.

1.5 Summary of Observations and Recommendations

1.5.1 Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

The roles and responsibilities of the managers are established with respect to the departmental succession planning process.  The role of the Champions for Succession Planning has been defined and communicated; however, some managers are not familiar with any initiatives undertaken in promoting and advancing succession planning.

Recommendation

1. The Deputy Minister should direct the Succession Planning Champions, with the support of Human Resources, in promoting and providing an active leadership role, in order to raise the profile and visibility of succession planning within the Department.
(high significance).

The department has established accountability for the development, implementation and monitoring of succession plans. However, performance agreements would benefit from improved attention with respect to succession planning. 

Recommendation

2. The Deputy Minister should ensure that the performance agreements in areas that require specific actions around succession planning vulnerabilities include more quantitative and specific performance measures for succession planning. Formal written achieved results should be linked specifically to established succession planning performance measures, and a status report for succession planning should be provided annually to the DMC.
(high significance)

1.5.2 Demographic Data

Succession plans are developed using demographic data and attrition models of varying usefulness.  However, the regions/sectors/CCG also use PeopleSoft for demographic reports, but find that the system lacks accuracy and timeliness, and furthermore have to spend considerable time and effort in verifying the data.

Recommendation

3. The Director General of Human Resources should develop an appropriate strategy to meet the requirement for greater demographic analysis capacity.
(medium significance)

1.5.3 Determination of Key Positions and Occupational Groups

The methodology and related support for identifying key positions and occupational groups need further refinement.  The undertaking of the 2008/09 succession planning exercise, in comparison to the 2007/08 exercise, was considered as less complicated. However, there is still succession planning work to be done as some regions are still working through the identification of key positions. 

Recommendation

4. The Director General of Human Resources should ensure that the process for completing the succession planning templates for identifying key positions and vulnerable groups be more streamlined.
(medium significance)

1.5.4 Development of Implementation of Succession Plans

Different definitions of key positions have been used across the Department in the preparation of sectors/regions/CCG succession plans. Identifying positions as “key” when they are not can cause succession plans to allocate resources towards “non-key” positions instead of those that are “key”.

Recommendations

5. The Director General of Human Resources should ensure that a common definition of key position provided by the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO), formerly the CPSA, is communicated throughout sectors/regions/CCG.
(high significance)

6. The Director General of Human Resources in consultation with sectors/regions/CCG should promulgate a more integrated approach to Succession Planning.
(medium significance)

For positions or groups identified as key, short, medium, and long-term, plans are developed for ensuring there is a pool of qualified resources available to draw from when the position becomes vacant.

Recommendation

No recommendation required

Insufficient progress has been made in the development and implementation of action plans related to knowledge transfer.  Various methods of knowledge transfer are in use across the Department. However, plans detailing the use of these methods have been developed to varying degrees across sectors/regions/CCG.

Recommendation

7. The Director General of Human Resources should make knowledge transfer tools more readily available to sectors/regions/CCG, and facilitate the sharing of best practices.
(medium significance)

The effective implementation of succession plans by managers is contingent upon support provided by Human Resources not only with respect to the development of succession plans, but also in the areas of classification and staffing required to facilitate actual implementation.  Interviewees have raised concerns that HR does not have the required capacity to deal with the sectors/regions/CCG for increasing demands for succession planning support.  Our interviews have highlighted a perception that there is a varying level of support provided by HR across the Department, with deficiencies noted for support in staffing and classification activities. 

Recommendation

8. To provide a more effective level of service, the Director General of Human Resources, in consultation with sectors/regions/CCG, should pursue ongoing efforts to:

  • provide training, support and advice to sectors/regions/CCG for the development and implementation of succession plans; and
  • prioritize staffing and classification requests as agreed upon with management considering key succession planning positions and vulnerable occupational groups.
    (high significance)

1.5.5 Monitoring and Evaluation

There is no performance measurement framework in place to measure the status of the implementation of departmental succession planning across the Department, and facilitate the making of appropriate decisions. Apart from an annual Health of HR Report, there are no formal mechanisms to monitor the implementation of succession planning.

Recommendation

9. The Director General of Human Resources should develop a performance measurement framework in consultation with sectors/regions/CCG for the department-wide monitoring and reporting of progress on succession plans.
(high significance)

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2.0 INTRODUCTION

The audit of Departmental Succession Planning is being conducted in accordance with the approved 2008/09 to 2010/11 Multi-year Risk-based Audit Plan.

Succession planning is a development function to enable the organization to meet its evolving business and operational needs which involve an integrated, systematic approach to identify, develop, and retain talent for key positions and areas in line with current and projected business and operational objectives.  The focus is on developing employees so that the organization has a pool of qualified candidates who are ready to compete for key positions and areas when they become vacant.

2.1 Background

In his Fifteenth and Sixteenth Annual Reports to the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council identified succession planning as one of the key elements of Public Service Renewal.   The Fifteenth report indicated that sixty-six percent (66%) of the public service is over 40 years of age and that more than one-quarter of the public service would be able to retire without penalty by 2012. 

A “Succession Planning and Management Guide” had been developed by the Canada Public Service Agency (CPSA) to assist departments in addressing their specific and evolving requirements for succession strategies.  The CPSA's activities have recently been consolidated in the new Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO), established within TBS in March 2009.  The Succession Planning and Management Guide responds to the current needs facing many departments such as the ability to attract, develop, and retain talent.  In addition, the tool supports the Public Service Modernization Act through a renewed focus on building a highly skilled workforce for leadership and other key areas.  The tool will be a key element of integrated human resource andbusiness plans and requires business and human resource communities to work together to implement succession planning.

The OCHRO/TBS Succession Planning and Management Guide refers to the following steps as outlined in Appendix A:

  • identify key areas and key positions;
  • identify capabilities for key areas and positions;
  • identify interested employees and assess them against capabilities;
  • develop and implement succession and knowledge transfer plans; and,
  • evaluate effectiveness.

Within DFO, all Sector Heads, the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard and Regional Directors General are responsible for preparing Human Resource Plans identifying all staff for which they have a line reporting relationship and to submit the plans to Human Resource.  Human Resources Headquarters provides the tools and data required for human resource planning, while Human Resources in the Regions provides further assistance to managers.  A DMC HR Sub-Committee has also been established to provide strategic advice on the overall management of Human Resources for DFO to ensure a capable workforce for the future.

According to recent internal documents[1] posted on DFO's Human Resources Intranet site, thirty percent (30%) of DFO indeterminate employees will be eligible to retire between 2008 and 2013.  The DFO attrition rate has increased over the past four years and is now at 4.6%.  In particular, sixty percent (60%) of EXs will be eligible to retire in 2008-2013.  In general, more indeterminate employees are leaving than are being appointed in DFO. Appendix B provides more statistics as they relate to DFO's human resources.

The TBS Management Accountability Framework (MAF) V (2007-08) assessment of DFO indicated deficiencies in the consideration of recruitment, staffing, development and succession plans to address identified gaps that was rated as “insufficient information”.  The MAF VI (2008-09) assessment was rated as “acceptable” as plans generally take into consideration recruitment, staffing, learning/development and succession management to address identified gaps and also include consideration of Employment Equity and Official Languages.

In June 2008, DMC identified the Deputy Minister and three Regional Directors General as Risk Mitigation Champions, responsible for the development and/or confirmation of specific measures and accountabilities to mitigate the risk of Human Capital.

The key drivers of the Human Capital risk are: (1) demographic changes related to an aging workforce and impending retirements predicted for the next eight to ten years; (2) lack of a sufficient supply of resources in the labour market; (3) missing or incomplete succession plans and strategies for transfer and/or retention of knowledge; (4) increasing complexity of DFO’s mandate resulting in a greater knowledge requirement for resources both currently and in the future; (5) funding pressures as funding reductions have not been accompanied by reductions in responsibilities of resources; (6) lengthy processes required to staff positions resulting in key positions remaining vacant and in an overall loss in capacity; and (7) expanding legislative and regulatory regime leading to strains on DFO’s resource base.   DFO organizations have identified a number of strategies to mitigate the Human Capital risk; however, the effectiveness of these strategies has not been generally assessed across the Department.

2.2 Objectives and Scope

The objective of the audit was to provide assurance on the adequacy of the management control framework for departmental succession planning.

The audit assessed the succession planning processes for the 2007-2008 fiscal year along with changes implemented for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.  The audit focused on the succession planning processes for key positions and occupational groups.  Key positions or occupational groups are those that exert critical influence on the operational activities or the strategic objectives of the organization.

The focus of the audit was on the following elements of the succession planning process:

  • roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities;
  • demographic data used to prepare succession plans;
  • methodology utilized to determine key positions and occupational categories;
  • development and implementation of succession plans for key positions and occupational groups; and,
  • monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the succession plan.

The scope of the audit included all DFO sectors/ regions/CCG and Headquarters, and an examination of the recently completed succession plans, including risks and mitigation strategies for the 2008-11 period, presented by sectors and CCG at the DMC HR Subcommittee in December 2008.

2.3 Overall Assessment

Overall, succession planning for DFO has been successfully developed and implemented. The audit recommendations should contribute to further improve the management control framework of succession planning for the department.  The Management Control Framework governing the Department’s succession planning activities is mostly in place and being administered in accordance with Central Agency and departmental policies and directives.  With continued leadership from the Deputy Minister and the  Succession Planning Champions, as well as the support of  Human Resources, DFO will be in a position to move from succession planning to succession management. 

2.4 Lines of Enquiry and Audit Criteria

2.4.1 Line of Enquiry – Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Audit Criteria

  • Roles and responsibilities with respect to the succession planning process are clearly defined, up-to-date, and properly communicated.
  • The department has clearly established accountability for the development, implementation and monitoring of succession plans.

2.4.2 Line of Enquiry – Demographic Data

Audit Criteria

  • Managers can easily access relevant, complete, timely and accurate demographic data for use in developing succession plans.
  • Demographic models that are used are based on historical patterns and are regularly updated and refined to reflect changing behavior patterns. 

2.4.3 Line of Enquiry – Determination of Key Positions and Occupational Groups

Audit Criteria

  • The succession planning process includes a rigorous, risk-based methodology to determine key positions and occupational categories. 

2.4.4 Line of Enquiry – Development and Implementation of Succession Plans

Audit Criteria

  • For positions or categories defined as key, the capabilities of these positions are defined.
  • For positions or categories identified as key, short, medium and long term plans are developed for ensuring there is a pool of qualified resources available to draw from when the position becomes vacant.
  • For key positions and occupational categories, the department has developed action plans to ensure knowledge is retained through the implementation of knowledge transfer plans.
  • Human Resources provide adequate levels of service to support the implementation of succession plans for key positions or occupational categories. 

2.4.5    Line of Enquiry – Monitoring and Evaluation

Audit Criteria

  • As part of the succession planning process, performance measures are used to measure progress against implementation.
  • Departmental management monitors the status of the implementation of the succession plans and utilizes performance information to aid in business decision making.

2.5 Methodology

The audit complied with generally accepted auditing practices and was conducted in accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada Policy on Internal Audit.  The audit was carried out in three phases: Planning, Conduct, and Reporting.

2.5.1 Planning Phase

The planning phase consisted of obtaining and documenting background information to gain an understanding of succession planning guidelines and processes taking place within DFO; the development of an audit plan; initial meetings with key HR personnel; the review and analysis of demographic data; the development of audit objectives and scope, and audit criteria and methodology.  The CPSA Succession Planning and Management Guide was used as a baseline for establishing criteria and assess departmental succession planning.

The Preliminary Survey included document reviews, preliminary interviews with Headquarters Human Resources and Canadian Coast Guard staff; analysis of selected HR plans, and workforce demographic information; and a field visit to the Quebec Region in November 2008, which included nineteen (19) interviews with the management staff of the Quebec Regional Office and that of the Canadian Coast Guard.

2.5.2 Conduct Phase

Utilizing document review and analysis, and fifty (50) interviews with senior management from DFO Headquarters and the Regions, Canadian Coast Guard, and Human Resources staff, the audit team identified the 2008-2009 processes used for succession planning, including identifying roles, responsibilities and accountabilities and the other lines of enquiry, and assessed these against optimal practices.   The audit team identified the processes in place to monitor and report on the status of the implementation of succession plans and assessed their effectiveness.

The auditors reviewed a statistically representative sample of 101 EX Performance Agreements for 2007-08, from a total of 260 documents, in order to determine whether or not succession planning was addressed satisfactorily. This sample size was necessary to provide the necessary assurance in the context of the audit, and provided for a 95% level of confidence. 

2.5.3 Reporting Phase

The reporting phase included the preparation of a Status Report that provided the results of the audit work for the Audit of Succession Planning.  It was presented to the Director General, Human Resources, then to the DAC, in March 2009.  In addition, a draft advisory report was prepared and validated with the Director General, Human Resources.

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3.0 OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

In this section of the report, the observations and recommendations have been ranked according to their significance (low, medium and high) to facilitate the preparation of the management action plan and the follow-up of its implementation.

3.1 Statement of Assurance

In our opinion, the auditors have examined sufficient, relevant evidence and obtained sufficient information and explanations to provide a high level of assurance on the reported opinion or conclusions.

3.2 Management Control Framework

In our opinion, the Management Control Framework governing the Department’s succession planning activities is generally in place and being administered in accordance with Central Agency and departmental policies and directives.  However, the roles, accountability and monitoring activities need to be strengthened.

3.2.1 Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of the managers are established with respect to the departmental succession planning process.

The role of the Champions for Succession Planning has been defined and communicated; however, some managers are not familiar with any initiatives undertaken in promoting and advancing succession planning.

With respect to succession planning, HR plays an advisory role with the sectors/regions/CCG. There is a lack of understanding of the HR role for HR planning versus succession planning. Two members of DMC have been named DFO Champions for Succession Planning, Recruitment, and Knowledge Transfer.  The Champions are to play an active and important leadership role in promoting and advancing succession planning.

Our interviews have shown that the role of Champions for Succession Planning is unknown and/or not well understood throughout the department.  The lack of guidelines/awareness for succession planning has led to different initiatives and approaches being used by DFO for succession planning.

Recommendation (high significance)

1. The Deputy Minister should direct the Succession Planning Champions, with the support of Human Resources in promoting and providing an active leadership role, in order to raise the profile and visibility of succession planning within the Department.

3.2.2 Accountability

The department has established accountability for the development, implementation and monitoring of succession plans. However, performance agreements would benefit from improved attention with respect to succession planning. 

Executives have generally addressed succession planning in their performance agreements. However, the statements made with regards to succession planning lacked clarity, quantifiable performance measures and precision, despite instructions provided in the call letter with respect to measurability and the TBS Directive on the Performance Management Program for Executives.  The auditors were unable to compare the performance agreements of 2007-08 to the accountability agreements of 2008-09 since the latter were not available at the time of the audit.  The auditors reviewed 101 out of the Department’s 260 EX Performance Agreements to determine whether or not succession planning was addressed satisfactorily. The statistical sampling approach used by the auditors provided a 95% level of confidence, with an expected error rate of 5%.  It was found that 80% of EX Performance Agreements appropriately addressed succession planning by identifying commitments, performance measures and results relating to succession planning.

This room for improvement with respect to accountability for succession planning of the EX cadre could potentially lead to difficulties in achieving and assessing succession planning results in relation to the departmental human capital risk.  

Recommendation (high significance)

2. The Deputy Minister should ensure that the performance agreements in areas that require specific actions around succession planning vulnerabilities include more quantitative and specific performance measures for succession planning. Formal written achieved results should be linked specifically to established succession planning performance measures, and a status report for succession planning should be provided annually to the DMC.

3.3 Demographic Data

Succession plans are developed using demographic data and attrition models of varying usefulness.  However, the regions/sectors/CCG also use PeopleSoft for demographic reports, but find that the system lacks accuracy and timeliness, and furthermore have to spend considerable time and effort in verifying the data.

The demographic and workforce analysis information available on the DFO intranet site on integrated HR and business planning is useful from a broad succession planning perspective.  Managers have immediate access to systems providing them with high-level demographic data that is updated on a semi-annual basis. More detailed data is also available to them, upon request.

Information about the availability of detailed demographic data is not disseminated to managers across the Department.  Human Resources currently lacks the capacity to provide projections beyond one year or additional detailed demographic data.  HR does not currently possess demographic analysis capacity to fill this need.  Privacy concerns prohibits the release of certain information (e.g. date of birth) to managers at the sector or unit level, which inhibits succession planning activities.  Any demographic analysis that could be reliably conducted by HR is founded on the information system being update by line managers, who are not, according to our interviews, providing HR with the necessary data.  As a result, the information system may not accurately reflect the demographic situation of the Department. 

Incomplete data being used by managers can lead to inaccurate assumptions, reports, and forecasts. Loss of confidence in the data contained in PeopleSoft leads to other methods of record keeping.  Sectors/regions/CCG develop their own spreadsheets for supplemental information, to compensate for their perceived HR information gaps, thereby duplicating efforts and misusing resources.  It is thus difficult for managers to effectively conduct HR or succession planning, given that HR data is one of its fundamental enablers.

Recommendation (medium significance)

3. The Director General of Human Resources should develop an appropriate strategy to meet the requirement for greater demographic analysis capacity.

3.4 Determination of Key Positions and Occupational Groups

The methodology and related support for identifying key positions and occupational groups need further refinement.

Human Resources, through the DMC HR Subcommittee on the Health of HR, requested that the sectors/regions/CCG complete succession planning templates for 2008-2011 that identify vulnerable groups and associated risks and mitigation strategies.  Interviewees in sectors/regions/CCG found that the succession planning templates were onerous to complete and unnecessarily complex. The undertaking of the 2008/09 succession planning exercise, in comparison to the 2007/08 exercise, was considered as less complicated. However, there is still succession planning work to be done as some regions are still working through the identification of key positions.   

The Department’s methodology to determine key positions and occupational groups needs further refinement.  Guidelines issued were not well understood for the completion of succession planning templates.  Not having identified all key positions leads to a higher risk associated with the retention of a competent and skilled workforce, the completion of organizational goals, and the achievement of succession planning objectives; the effectiveness of succession planning is thereby at risk.

Recommendation (medium significance)

4. The Director General of Human Resources should ensure that the process for completing the succession planning templates for identifying key positions and vulnerable groups be more streamlined.

3.5 Developmentand Implementation of Succession Plans

3.5.1 Different definitions of key positions have been used across the Department in the preparation of sectors/regions/CCG succession plans.

Organizations’ succession plans were developed according to sectors, vulnerable occupational groups and areas of vulnerability.  Succession planning strategies are categorized in five areas, namely outreach, recruitment, retention, professional development, and knowledge transfer.  These strategic succession plans were presented in December 2008 at the DMC HR Subcommittee meeting.  Sectors/regions/CCG have identified key positions in their respective organizations.  However, the definition of “key position” in use across sectors/regions/CCG is not consistent.

The definition of “key position”[2] as provided by HR has not consistently been applied across all sectors/regions/CCG.  Our interviews have indicated that some managers thought that funding would be taken away for positions not identified as “key” and therefore applied their own definitions of “key position”. Definitions and examples have been provided by HR in the past, however the type and volume of positions identified indicated a lack of understanding by managers.

Identifying positions as “key” when they are not can cause succession plans to allocate resources towards “non-key” positions instead of those that are “key”.

Human Resources has developed and is currently implementing the new online Integrated Operational and HR Planning Tool to assist managers with contingency planning (short-term) as well as long-term planning for key positions.

Recommendations

5. The Director General of Human Resources should ensure that a common definition of key position provided by the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO), (formerly the CPSA), is communicated throughout sectors/regions/CCG.
(high significance)

6. The Director General of Human Resources in consultation with sectors/regions/CCG should promulgate a more integrated approach to Succession Planning.
(medium significance)

3.5.2 For positions or groups identified as key, short, medium, and long-term, plans are developed for ensuring there is a pool of qualified resources available to draw from when the position becomes vacant.

Sectors/regions/CCG have developed plans to address vacancies using various approaches, such as external recruitment and the creation of collective staffing and/or pools of qualified resources. However, it is not clear if these plans are focused on those positions identified as key. The auditors have not assessed the effectiveness of the implementation of those plans and the use of such strategies, as this was deemed beyond the scope of this engagement.

Recommendation

No recommendation required.

3.5.3 Insufficient progress has been made in the development and implementation of action plans related to knowledge transfer.

Various methods of knowledge transfer, such as job shadowing, training opportunities, bridging positions, double banking, competency profiles and transitional positions, are in use across the Department. However, plans detailing the use of these methods have been developed to varying degrees across sectors/regions/CCG.  The sectors/regions/CCG have not invested the required resources to effectively implement the various knowledge transfer strategies although we did find some evidence of significant investments being made in certain sectors. 

We found little evidence of sharing of best practices with respect to knowledge transfer.  The lack of timely implementation of knowledge transfer strategies will lead to loss of corporate knowledge, which may consequently limit the departmental capacity to meet ongoing operational goals in the long term.

Recommendation (medium significance)

7. The Director General of Human Resources should make knowledge transfer tools more readily available to sectors/regions/CCG, and facilitate the sharing of best practices.

3.5.4 Human Resources provides varying levels of service to support the implementation of succession plans

The effective implementation of succession plans by managers is contingent upon support provided by Human Resources not only with respect to the development of succession plans, but also in the areas of classification and staffing required to facilitate actual implementation.  Interviewees have raised concerns that HR does not have the required capacity to deal with the sectors/regions/CCG for increasing demands for succession planning support.  Our interviews have highlighted a perception that there is a varying level of support provided by HR across the Department, with deficiencies noted for support in staffing and classification activities. 

According to our interviews, classification and staffing delays impede effective long-term human resource succession planning, which leads to a significant number of long-term acting appointments.  According to recent statistics from the Public Service Commission[3], the length of appointment processes at DFO, from the poster to the first notification on Publiservice, was 146 calendar days.  This is slightly more than the average of 125 calendar days for departments of similar size.  Notwithstanding delays encountered with classification and staffing processes, managers in the regions/sectors/CCG are satisfied with the level of service, advice and guidance being provided by HR advisors for succession planning.  Given the high levels of risk associated with classification and staffing, audits of these two HR functions have been included in the Risk-based Audit Plan for 2009-2010 to 2011-2012.

Recommendation (high significance)

8. To provide a more effective level of service, the Director General of Human Resources, in consultation with sectors/regions/CCG, should pursue ongoing efforts to:

  • provide training, support and advice to sectors/regions/CCG for the development and implementation of succession plans; and
  • prioritize staffing and classification requests as agreed upon with management considering key succession planning positions and vulnerable occupational groups.

3.6 Monitoring and Evaluation

There is no performance measurement framework in place to measure the status of the implementation of departmental succession planning across the Department, and facilitate the making of appropriate decisions.

This is the first year of implementation of succession planning and, to date, some regions/sectors/CCG have been able to provide formal mid-year reviews, while others monitor on a regular basis through various HR subcommittees.  There is no standardized process being followed to monitor the implementation of succession plans.  No evidence was found of the existence of performance measures to measure the progress of the implementation of succession plans.  Apart from an annual Health of HR Report, there are no formal mechanisms to monitor the implementation of succession planning. Lack of adequate reporting systems make it difficult to monitor and measure progress against implementation on a departmental basis. 

No methodology has been established for monitoring progress against implementation of succession plans, due in part to a lack of such capacity.  Given the role and importance of performance measurement, the Department currently has limited means of assessing progress, if any, in achieving the outcomes of its succession planning initiatives.  This is therefore a risk over which DFO has limited control.

Recommendation (high significance)

9. The Director General of Human Resources should develop a performance measurement framework in consultation with sectors/regions/CCG for the department-wide monitoring and reporting of progress on succession plans.

3.7 Best Practices

The following are best practices observed by the audit team in the conduct of the audit, that are worthy of being mentioned in this context.

  • The DMC HR Subcommittee has been formed to provide strategic advice on the overall management of Human Resources for DFO to ensure a capable workforce for the future.
  • Human Resources, through the DMC HR Subcommittee on the Health of HR, had the sectors/regions/CCG complete succession planning templates for 2008-2011 that identifies vulnerable groups and associated risks and mitigation strategies. These strategic succession plans were presented on in December 2008 at the DMC HR Subcommittee meeting.
  • Some regions have partnered to develop a framework for outreach and include managers on their team.  The sectors/regions/CCG participate in a number of outreach activities, career fairs and school visits.
  • Knowledge transfer agreements identifying position groups and levels is being used by one sector.  The value of implementing knowledge transfer is now recognized and managers are using various recommended strategies.
  • Job rotation, job shadowing, and double banking of positions are used as risk mitigating strategies in various sectors/regions/CCG. Specifically, one sector has allocated the sum of $1M to allow for double banking of key positions.

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4.0 CONCLUSION

This is the first year of formal implementation of department wide succession planning.  Human Resources developed tools such as the succession planning templates for 2008-2011 that identified key positions and vulnerable groups, with associated risks and mitigation strategies. DFO’s succession planning and management strategies are based on the following five elements; outreach, recruitment, retention, professional development, and knowledge transfer. DFO continues to conduct more systematic succession planning to ensure a stable, renewable workforce and mix of skills sets to effectively deliver programs.

The Management Control Framework governing the Department’s succession planning activities is mostly in place and being administered in accordance with Central Agency and departmental policies and directives.  Although Human Resources has taken an important step by having developed and implemented the new online Integrated Operational and HR Planning Tool to assist managers with succession planning, a performance measurement framework remains to be developed to address weaknesses in performance agreements, and departmental monitoring and reporting for succession planning.

With continued leadership from the Deputy Minister and the Succession Planning Champions, as well as the support of Human Resources, DFO will be in a position to move from succession planning to succession management.  Fundamental demographic shifts will apply ongoing pressure on the Department's capacity to deliver its mandate through effectively deployed human resources.

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5.0 Management Action Plan

Recommendations

Management
Action Plan *

Status Report Update

Actions Completed

Actions Outstanding

Target Date

1. The Deputy Minister should direct the Succession Planning Champions, with the support of Human Resources, in promoting and providing an active leadership role, in order to raise the profile and visibility of succession planning within the Department.  (high significance)

-HR to provide to departmental champions analysis of national aggregated data on succession plans for vulnerable groups, key positions and subject matter experts following annual integrated business and HR planning.

 

 

November 2009

-Departmental champions to deliver presentations at DMC, In the Loop messages and serve as ambassadors and spokespersons on overall DFO succession planning information, issues and plans.

 

 

November 2009

2. The Deputy Minister should ensure that the performance agreements in areas that require specific actions around succession planning vulnerabilities include more quantitative and specific performance measures for succession planning. Formal written achieved results should be linked specifically to established succession planning performance measures, and a status report for succession planning should be provided annually to the DMC.
(high significance)

-HR will ensure that PMP instructions and menu of management engagements include references to succession planning.

 

N/A

April annually

-HR will encourage managers to adjust their performance agreements to reflect their succession planning strategies identified through the Integrated Operational and HR Planning (IOHRP) On-line Tool. 

 

 

 

-Consider regional context when developing succession planning at the sector level.

 

 

 

3. The Director General of Human Resources should develop an appropriate strategy to meet the requirement for greater demographic analysis capacity.
(medium significance)

This requirement will only be met with increased capacity (i.e. resources). 

 

 

 

-Demographic data to be published on the HR Intranet site.

 

 

September 2009

-A small list of pre-programmed (“canned”) reports will be developed and made available through PeopleSoft.

 

 

September 2010

-IOHRP On-line Tool is programmed to remind managers to complete HR Service Requests for changes that need to be reflected in PeopleSoft

Tool reminds managers through anomaly report production and through instructions.

 

June 2009

4. The Director General of Human Resources should ensure that the process for completing the succession planning templates for identifying key positions and vulnerable groups be more streamlined. (medium significance)

-Review process, update it and integrate into the IOHRP On-line Tool

-The process of completing manager succession planning is integrated into the new IOHRP On-line Tool as of March 2009 and launched in May 2009.

 

Completed

-Aggregated reports available from the IOHRP tool after August 1, 2009 will be used by managers to develop Sector/regional/ CCG succession plans.

 

 

September 2009

5. The Director General of Human Resources should ensure that a common definition of key position provided by the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO), formerly the CPSA, is communicated throughout sectors/regions/CCG. (high significance)

-Develop commonly understood DFO definitions of key positions as part of the IOHRP Tool

March 2009

 

Completed

-Communicate definitions as part of the training for managers and HR planners/advisors on the Integrated Operational and HRP On-line Tool

March – May 2009
DFO has developed a common definition of Key position based on the OCHRO definition, as well as one for subject matter expert and vulnerable positions.  These are clearly defined in the IOHRP On-line Tool.
This definition has been clearly communicated to managers

 

Completed

-Include on Intranet Site

June 1, 2009

 

Completed

-Include definitions in IOHRP Guide and in the Help function directly in the Tool.

March 2009

 

Completed

6. The Director General of Human Resources, in consultation with sectors/ regions/CCG, should promulgate a more integrated approach to Succession Planning. (medium significance)

-A more integrated approach will be included in the IOHRP On-line Tool.

May 2009

 

Completed

7. The Director General of Human Resources should make knowledge transfer tools more readily available to sectors/ regions/ CCG, and facilitate the sharing of best practices
 (medium significance)

.

-Champions to conduct video conferences with their colleagues for sharing best practices related to knowledge transfer tools.
- The Knowledge Transfer Agreement Program, exclusive to the Science Sector will be shared with other sectors as a best practice.  Managers are invited to use the strategies most appropriate to their needs.

 

 

March 2010

 

 

8. To provide a more effective level of service, the Director General of Human Resources, in consultation with sectors/regions/CCG, should pursue ongoing efforts to: (high significance)

  • provide training, support and advice to sectors/regions/CCG for the development and implementation of succession plans; and

-Develop and provide training to managers and HR planners/ trainers/advisors on the IOHRP Tool including a segment on succession planning and make this information available in a User Guide

March – May 2009

 

Completed.

  • prioritize staffing and classification requests as agreed upon with management, considering key succession planning positions and vulnerable occupational groups

-The consideration of succession planning will form part of the discussion between the Organization and Classification Centre of Expertise (OCCOE) and ADMs/ Commissioner when setting priorities for classification.

 

 

Ongoing

-HR Advisors will continue to work with managers and HR plans to ensure that staffing priorities consider succession planning.

 

 

2009-10 and
2010-11

-Professional Development and Apprenticeship Programs within the department will be promoted as an effective recruitment tool for succession planning.

-Strategy developed to hire students in the most vulnerable groups with the objective of bridging them to positions in DFO
-27 students in each of two years beginning 2009.

 

September 2009

9. The Director General of Human Resources should develop a performance measurement framework in consultation with sectors/regions/CCG for the department-wide monitoring and reporting of progress on succession plans. (high significance)

At a minimum, reporting and monitoring for succession planning will be conducted in the context of Health of HR monitoring framework.

 

 

June 2010

*HR Capacity to respond in any significant fashion to the recommendations of this audit will reflect the July 5, 2009 DMC decision.  HR resources will be realigned to multiple workforce and workplace priorities.

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Appendix A: Succession Planning Process

Appendix A

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Appendix B: Key DFO Statistics

Appendix B


1. DMC HR Sub-Committee; DFO Health of HR 2007-08, and DFO - Workforce and Demographic Analysis

2. TBS/OCHRO: The Succession Planning and Management Guide defines a key position as a position that exerts critical influence on the operational activities or the strategic objectives of the organization. This means that without this role, the organization would be unable to effectively meet its business objectives.

3. PSC Departmental Summary of Leading Indicators for 2006-07 and 2007-08 for DFO