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Follow-up of the 2005 Audit of Official Languages

October 2008

( PDF Version, 126 KB) *

Executive Summary

In November 2005, Internal Audit completed an audit of Official Languages. This follow-up reviewed the progress of the management action plan written in response to the 28 recommendations made in the audit. The Management Action Plan acknowledged the improvements required for the Official Languages Program and the need to establish specific monitoring guidelines to assess and report on the program. Details of the follow-up are documented in Appendix A.

The Corporate Resourcing office of the Human Resources bureau had agreed to complete an action plan that would include the establishment of an Official Languages Champions network and define the roles and responsibilities of managers in the Official Languages program at DFAIT. They also agreed to establish a monitoring plan by October 2005 to review progress and facilitate reporting to the Deputy Minister. These actions have not been completed. In the 2007-2008 Annual Review of Official Languages, the department reported under 'Performance Measurement Mechanisms' that the Annual Report on Official Languages represents the department's main performance measurement mechanism. In 2007, the department conducted an in-depth analysis which constituted the foundation of the departmental strategy of official languages for 2007-2011 and was presented to the Human Resources Board.

The absence of a completed Official Languages Action Plan, that includes monitoring of the objectives and outcomes, impedes the assessment, promotion and optimization of the department's Official Languages program. The department's ability to communicate with and service the public in both official languages and to ensure the language requirements for positions are appropriate and staffed accordingly may be at risk.

Corporate Resourcing did not have the foundation to implement the management action plan for the 2005 Audit. The Official Languages and Employment Equity Manager, the language training co-ordinator and the policy officer positions were established and staffed in January, February and July 2008 respectively. Corporate Resourcing is now in a position to implement an action plan.

The Official Languages Program is being promoted in the department. An Official Languages Champion has been appointed and statements of commitment regarding official languages are included in managements Performance Agreements. Overall, while some initiatives have been undertaken, action is required.

Recommendations

The following actions are recommended:

  1. Complete, implement and monitor the action plan for the Official Languages program at DFAIT.
  2. Complete and implement a monitoring plan to ensure the management of the Official Languages program (under Parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act) is assessed and corrected as required.
  3. Review and update the Official Languages information in PeopleSoft to ensure the data is accurate.

Management Response

Corporate Resourcing acknowledges that improvements to the Official Languages Program are required. A 2008-2011 Official Languages Action Plan has been developed and is scheduled to be approved by senior management in winter 2009. Several initiatives that are included in the action plan have been or will be completed and implemented by the end of 2010-2011, such as monitoring through an annual report on the implementation of the Official Languages Program Action Plan to senior management and establishing an Official Languages Coordinators' Network.

Monitoring mechanisms are in place in the Official Languages Program. In addition to the Annual Review on Official Languages that is provided to the Canada Public Service Agency, an annual report on the management of non-imperative appointments is provided to the Public Service Commission. A critical part of the monitoring process is capturing data on important official languages issues such as, the frequency of non-imperative appointments, the linguistic capacity of employees, the number of employees requiring official languages training, as well as the amount of funding required to train them and presenting this information to senior management. Discussions have taken place on determining official languages training priorities and on the next steps to ensure progress is made. Complaints are also monitored and dealt with on a regular basis. The 2008-2011 Official Languages Program Action Plan includes monitoring of the department's official languages obligations at Headquarters, in regions and abroad, as well as monitoring of the quality of official languages data in the Human Resource Management System.

Corporate Resourcing is involved in initiatives to improve the quality of the Human Resource Management System data by taking the lead as the Official Languages Business Process Owner on the Subcommittee for Policies, Procedures and Processes. In order to increase stakeholders' collaboration in maintaining accurate official languages data, roles and responsibilities for official languages data entry have been clearly outlined in the official languages Policy on the Staffing of Bilingual Positions and the Policy and Directives on the Linguistic Identification of Positions.


1.0 Introduction

The Corporate Resourcing Division of the Corporate Strategies, Policies and Programs Directorate, Human Resources Branch is responsible for the Official Languages Program that ensures compliance to the Official Languages Act: Part IV - Communications With and Services to the Public; Part V - Language of Work; and Part VI - Participation of English-Speaking and French-Speaking Canadians of the Official Languages Act. They also ensure compliance to the Public Service Employment Act, the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order, the Public Service Official Languages Approval Regulations and Official Languages Policies and directives of central agencies such as the Canada Public Service Agency, Treasury Board Secretariat and the Public Service Commission. These policies and directives include objectives on official languages for communications with and services to the public, language of work and equitable use of official languages in the work place.

Positions designated bilingual in the Public Service are staffed imperatively or non-imperatively. The incumbent for imperatively staffed positions must have the designated language requirements prior to being appointed to the position. The incumbents for non-imperative positions have two years from the date of the appointment to attain the language requirements and must begin language training before assuming the duties of the position or as soon as possible.

An Official Languages Champion for the Department was appointed to provide leadership to members of the senior management committee and ensure that official languages are a key element in decision making. The Champion also discusses problems and shares best practices. Outside of Canada, Heads of Mission are responsible for the implementation of the Official Languages Program and are accountablethrough their performance agreements.


2.0 Observations and Recommendations

2.1 Management Framework

The audit of 2005 assessed the management framework for the Official Languages Program including the policies, procedures and controls in place to manage the program objectives. The results concluded that improvements to the management framework were needed especially in terms of monitoring program activities.

To improve the management framework of the program, Corporate Resourcing initiated a consultant's study in 2007 that focussed on compliance with the Official Languages Act. The study included the suggestion of necessary resources to allow the development of an Action Plan. The Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages conducted a follow-up to the study ''Doorway to the World: Linguistic Duality in Canada's International Relations''. They concluded that contingency plans had been developed by each Mission to ensure the provision of bilingual service in emergency situations.

Every Federal department is required to submit an annual report on Official Languages to the Canada Public Service Agency. The official languages coordinators at Missions are required to report annually on service to clients and their internal official languages capacity. This information is included in the annual report however most of the Missions provide limited or no information.

A policy on staffing bilingual positions as well as guidelines on language training and learning retention and the identification of bilingual positions in the department are being developed by Corporate Resourcing. These documents are expected to be completed and communicated to employees in the fall of 2008. A departmental budget was established for official languages training. Corporate Resourcing Division will manage the budget by following the department's priorities highlighted in the draft policy on language training and learning retention that will come into effect on January 1, 2009.

In conclusion, while management has made some progress and taken the necessary steps to allow for the creation of an action plan, the plan itself has not been completed. Therefore, action is required.

Recommendation 1

Complete, implement and monitor the action plan for the Official Languages program at DFAIT.

2.2 Compliance to the Official Languages Act

2.2.1 Communications With and Services to Public

DFAIT's compliance with the Official Languages Act Part IV - Communications With and Services to the Public was also assessed. The 2005 Audit concluded that the level of bilingual capability at Missions was not consistent. This information was based on interviews with staff at 14 Missions; testing if the telephone was answered in both official languages at 26 missions; and reviewing data in the Human Resource Management System.

The 2006-2007 Annual Report from the Commissioner of Official Languages reported that 1% of the 774 complaints deemed to be found were attributed to DFAIT. The complaints varied from oral to written communication and included the language of service on DFAIT Web sites. In 2007-2008, the department was the subject of one founded complaint regarding communications with and services to the public by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. Five other complaints were still under investigation.

Each bureau, mission and regional office is accountable to conduct its own assessment on their capability to provide service in both languages and is responsible for establishing the elements to measure within the context of their organization. This self-assessment and reporting process was designed to capture the capability of bureaus, missions and regional offices to provide services in both official languages. This information is not but should be included in the annual reports.

Corporate Resourcing has not developed a plan to monitor official languages use and capabilities at Headquarters, Missions and Regional Offices; however it conducted a telephone audit of several missions in early 2007 to verify that the responder makes it known to the caller that they will be served in either official language of their choice (an active offer of service) and is monitoring all non-imperative appointments of rotational employees to ensure that the department has the bilingual capacity to communicate with and serve the public. The Department Linguistic Capacity Data is provided to the Canada Public Service Agency annually through the department's Annual Review on Official Languages. The Position and Classification Information System is also linked to the Canada Public Service Agency dashboard.

Although DFAIT received very few public complaints, management should monitor the results of their capacity to provide communications with and services to the public in both official languages.

2.2.2 Language of Work

In 2005, the results of the Public Service Employee Survey demonstrated that 90% of the employees in DFAIT who responded were comfortable with being able to work in their language of choice. During the 2006-2007 fiscal year, DFAIT planned to set up a working group to find better ways to improve the use of French language at Headquarters. This group met once in January 2007.

The department's compliance with the Official Languages Act Part V - Language of Work was also assessed in the 2005 Audit. It concluded that there were few control and monitoring activities related to staffing bilingual positions and the bilingual capability of senior managers in the executive group. Since that time, Senior Management decided that:

  • All employees who are appointed to a bilingual position staffed on a non-imperatively basis will be given language training on a priority basis;
  • There will neither be extensions of assignments nor cross-postings for rotational employees until the individual meets the required level of bilingualism of their non-imperative appointment; and
  • The language capability of rotational employees will be verified before they are posted.

The department now has a policy for staffing bilingual positions that is in line with the Canada Public Service Agency Policy on Official Languages for Human Resources Management, the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order, the Public Service Official Languages Approval Regulations, the Public Service Employment Act and the Public Service Employment Regulations. It establishes the conditions for non-imperative staffing of bilingual positions. As of 2008, all Heads of Mission and senior positions are designated bilingual imperative at the CBC level. This information has been posted on the Intranet and was distributed by email in a DFAIT Broadcast message.

Internal Audit concludes that management has met the requirements in this area and no further action is required.

Recommendation 2

Complete and implement a monitoring plan to ensure the management of the Official Languages program under Part VI- Communications With and Services to the Public is assessed and corrected as required. Although Internal Audit has concluded the requirements have been met for Part V - Language of Work, this obligation must be monitored on a regular basis.

2.3 Information Updates and Data Reliability

The 2005 Audit concluded that the data in the Human Resource Management System (PeopleSoft) regarding official languages was not accurate and employees who should not receive the bilingual bonus were receiving payment. Also, Corporate Resourcing reviewed the staffing files in question and determined that not all Second Language Evaluation results were on the staffing files for employees in receipt of the bonus. It was recommended that a review and correction of the data be carried out and the data entry process, including the determination of roles and responsibilities for data entry, be reviewed to ensure that accurate data be maintained.

The bilingualism bonuses paid to employees at the EX level were corrected by EX Resourcing Division, in collaboration with Corporate Resourcing. They also determined if these employees met their required bilingual level for their position. Human Resource Operational Services and the Compensation Service Division is in the process of reviewing files to ensure the Second language Evaluation Results are on file where required.

Corporate Resourcing had established a monitoring system for employees appointed to a bilingual non-imperative position to ensure compliance with the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order requirement to achieve the required language of the position within two years. A regular follow-up had been established and a record of the manager's plans to send the employee on language training and the employee's progress in their second language evaluation tests was kept up to date by Corporate Resourcing.

This review concluded that PeopleSoft records are still incorrect in two areas: (1) the Official Languages testing results; and (2) the indicator of whether or not the employee should receive the bilingualism bonus. A process has not been developed to correct the data and monitor the system to ensure the information on record is correct and reliable for reporting and decision-making. Action is, therefore, required.

Recommendation 3

Review and update the Official Languages information in PeopleSoft to ensure the data is correct and up-to date.


3.0 Conclusion

While some initiatives have been undertaken, the Official Languages Program staff has made little progress in implementing the Management Action Plan developed in response to the 2005 Official Languages Audit Report.

A new Management Action Plan with target dates is required in response to this report and is contained in Appendix B.


Appendix A - About the Follow-up

Background

An audit of Official Languages was completed by Internal Audit in November 2005. The audit made 28 recommendations and management developed a Management Action Plan to address these. This follow-up was scheduled to ensure that management had taken appropriate action as planned.

Objective and Scope

The objective of this follow-up was to determine whether stakeholders had made satisfactory progress in implementing the Management Action Plan developed in response to the 2005 Audit. It did not include an assessment of the effectiveness of the implementation.

The scope of this follow-up consisted of the Management Action Plan developed in response to the 28 recommendations contained in the internal audit report dated November 2005.

Approach and Timing

This follow-up was conducted at Headquarters between December 2007 and June 2008. It included a review and analysis of documentation provided and interviews with program management. The following rating scale was assigned to assess the level of progress achieved in implementing the Management Action Plan.

Follow-Up Audit - Assessments

Rating LevelDefinition
MetStakeholder has implemented, or has made significant progress in implementing, the action(s) described in its response to the recommendation.
Partially MetStakeholder has completed some of the planned tasks associated with the implementation of the action(s) described in its response to the recommendation.
Requires ActionStakeholder has not implemented, or has made insignificant progress in implementing, the action(s) described in its response to the recommendation.

Appendix B - Management Action Plan in Response to the Follow-up of the 2005 Audit of Official Languages

Audit RecommendationManagement Action, and Date Scheduled for CompletionPerson Responsible
1. Complete, implement and monitor the action plan for the Official Languages program at DFAIT.A 2008-2011 Official Languages Action Plan has been developed and is scheduled to be approved by deputy ministers in winter 2009. Several initiatives will be included in the action plan, such as: Implement DFAIT Policies on Staffing of Bilingual Positions and on Linguistic Identification of Positions - March 2009Implement DFAIT Policy on Language Training and Learning Retention - June 2009Elaborate a DFAIT Policy on Communications with and Services to the Public (e.g. Web sites, electronic communications, Missions' obligations, security services) - Winter 2011Review and update the OL Training Strategy to ensure it fully addresses the need to assist rotational staff in maintaining second-language skills and that all locally engaged staff in missions possess adequate bilingual skills to communicate and serve the public in both official languages - June 2009Develop, in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Relations and Domestic Outreach Branch (PRD), an OL communications strategy to increase awareness of the importance of linguistic duality - Winter 2009Establish an OL Coordinator's Network and include objectives, means of action as well as monitoring and coordination mechanisms - Sept. 2009Report on the implementation of the Official Languages Program Action Plan to Deputy Ministers that will take into account all the issues, deficiencies and progress of the Official Languages Program - Annually, starting Sept. 2009HSR
2. Complete and implement a monitoring plan to ensure the management of the Official Languages program (under Parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act) is assessed and corrected as required.Monitoring mechanisms are in place in the Official Languages Program. The 2008-2011 Official Languages Program Action Plan will include monitoring of the department's official languages obligations at Headquarters, in regions and abroad, such as: Monitor non-imperative appointments and provide annual report to the Public Service Commission. - Annually, in AprilMonitor Official Languages complaints received by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages - OngoingDevelop a mechanism for missions and regional offices to report annually on their OL performance in order to include it in the annual report. - Jan. 2010Develop an Annual Review on OL for the Canada Public Service Agency that will include missions and regional offices OL performance - Annually, in MayHSR, HQ, regions and missions
3. Review and update the Official Languages information in PeopleSoft to ensure the data is correct and up-to date.To improve the quality of official languages data in PeopleSoft, collaboration with different Divisions responsible for official languages data entry in HR Branch is essential. Corporate Resourcing is taking the lead as the Official Languages Business Process Owner on the Subcommittee for Policies, Procedures and Processes. Data integrity initiatives will be included in the Three-Year Official Languages Program Action Plan, such as: Monitor OL data error reports from HRMS to verify its completeness and take corrective measures - Bi-annually, starting May 2009Define roles and responsibilities as Business Process Owner for OL data entry at the Subcommittee for Policies, Procedures and Processes - March 2009Request changes to linguistic profile of rotational positions to be accurate in HRMS - May 2009HSR, HFR, HMO, HRB

Office of the Chief Audit Executive


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Date Modified:
2012-03-26