Internal Audit and Program Evaluation Directorate
Follow-up Audit of Professional Standards
Table of contents
- 1.0 Introduction
- 2.0 Significance of the audit
- 3.0 Statement of conformance
- 4.0 Audit opinion
- 5.0 Key findings
- 6.0 Summary of recommendations
- 7.0 Management response
- 8.0 Audit findings
- Appendix A: About the audit
- Appendix B: List of acronyms
1. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA or the Agency) contributes to integrated national security, emergency management, enforcement, corrections, crime prevention and border management operations. As the Agency is mandated to facilitate the movement of large volumes of people and goods and enforce border legislation, it is imperative that a culture of professional integrity be created and maintained across the Agency.
2. Employees of the Agency are guided in their day-to-day work by the shared values of integrity, respect, and professionalism, as described in the CBSA’s Code of Conduct (the Code). The Code provides guidance for employees to incorporate values and ethics in all aspects of their work. It clarifies responsibilities and describes the standards of conduct expected from CBSA employees. The Agency is a large and diverse organization and the Code applies across the full extent of an employee’s activities inside, and at times, outside the workplace.
3. If a breach of the Code occurs, employees are expected to inform their manager, who is responsible for reviewing the breach, as well as consulting with Labour Relations and/or referring the case to the Personnel Security and Professional Standards Division (PSPSD) to determine the appropriate action. Footnote 1
4. During the scope of the audit, PSPSD (the functional lead for administrative investigations at the CBSA), which is part of the Finance and Corporate Management Branch, was responsible for triaging allegations of employee misconduct. Following the triage, for the allegations that were deemed to have merit, a decision was made on whether PSPSD would investigate or whether the investigation would be conducted by management. Over the course of the audit, the Agency introduced changes to the intake and triage process for misconduct allegations, to put in place what is now known as the tiered approach. The tiered approach would result in management being able to address certain types of misconduct allegations without sending them to PSPSD for triage. At the time of the audit, the tiered approach was not fully implemented.
5. The Labour Relations and Compensation Directorate within the Human Resources Branch provides advice and guidance to managers for management-led misconduct investigations. However, managers ultimately have the delegated authority to make decisions on the corrective actions that align with the Agency’s objectives, priorities, principles and best practices.
6. It is important to ensure that misconduct investigations are conducted in a manner that allows the Agency to remedy undesirable behaviours in a way that is respectful of employees’ rights. This is a key step in ensuring that the Agency continues to build a healthy workplace culture and effectively deliver on its mandate.
2.0 Significance of the audit
7. Canadians entrust the Agency to protect our borders and ensure that unauthorized goods and people do not enter the country. Given our responsibilities, it is imperative that all Agency employees uphold the highest professional standards of respect, integrity and professionalism. When allegations of behaviours that compromise our professional standards are identified, it is important that they be investigated thoroughly and in a manner that respects employees’ rights.
8. The objective of this follow-up audit was to determine whether there were adequate controls in place over the conduct of investigations and the tracking and monitoring of misconduct, as well as to assess whether key players had access to training and support to perform administrative investigations into alleged employee misconduct.
9. Given the changes being made to the intake and triage processes, the audit was also well positioned to assess whether key aspects of the Tiered Approach were well designed.
10. The audit scope and criteria can be found in Appendix A.
3.0 Statement of conformance
11. The audit conforms to the Mandatory Procedures for Internal Auditing in the Government of Canada, as supported by the results of the quality assurance and improvement program. The audit approach and methodology followed the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing as defined by the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Mandatory Procedures for Internal Auditing in the Government of Canada, as required by the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Directive on Internal Audit.
4.0 Audit opinion
12. The Agency has established procedures, guidance and support for investigators, management, and Labour Relations (LR) Advisors. However, updates are required to existing guidance and procedures to better align with Treasury Board Secretariat guidance and drive a consistent and fair approach to misconduct investigations. There is an opportunity to improve training and quality control and to conduct quality assurance over all investigations. These improvements will help ensure that the conclusions reached in investigations are based on sound analysis, are adequately supported by evidence, and are appropriately documented. Finally, there is an opportunity to clarify and communicate the Agency’s new tiered approach to the intake of investigations, specifically with respect to roles and responsibilities for quality control and quality assurance, tracking of allegations and for the conduct of trend analysis.
5.0 Key findings
13. Processes are defined and documented for the triage of misconduct allegations and the conduct of professional standards investigations. However, there is no standardized process for conducting management-led investigations, which could lead to investigations of inconsistent quality. Additionally, procedures for PSPSD-led investigations have been rescinded and not updated. During the scope of the audit, PSPSD was making changes to processes to better align with TBS Guidance.
14. We identified gaps in the design of the CBSA investigation processes, most notably with respect to sharing a draft version of the investigation report with the respondent, a key element of procedural fairness, as well as with limited quality control (supervisory review and approval) over investigations, particularly when led by management.
15. Training and guidance for investigators and managers are out of date, and training curriculums for investigators, LR advisors, and management have not been developed. Investigators normally gain knowledge from on-the-job training, while management and LR receive support from PSPSD when required.
16. Quality assurance (QA) is not being conducted for management-led or PSPSD-led investigations and is not embedded in the new Tiered Approach.
17. Roles, responsibilities, and criteria for determining who should conduct an investigation were defined in the new Tiered Approach. However, the responsibilities around tracking and quality assurance for management-led (tier 1) investigations need to be clarified. Additionally, a national process to track and report management-led misconduct allegations and investigations is needed.
6.0 Summary of recommendations
The audit makes five recommendations relating to:
- updating the investigation processes and procedures to align with Treasury Board Secretariat guidance
- sharing the draft investigation report with the respondent for comment prior to the report being finalized
- identifying training and formalizing guidance for key stakeholders involved in conducting investigations
- implementing a risk-based quality assurance process over all misconduct investigations
- clarifying roles and responsibilities, along with implementing a process for tracking and reporting on misconduct investigations
7.0 Management response
The Agency generally agrees with the overall findings and recommendations of this follow-up audit. Professional Standards have been in the midst of a major transformation, and the recommendations of this follow-up audit will help to focus efforts resulting in a stronger more resilient program.
FCMB will work closely with partners in the Human Resources Branch to address the recommendations made through this follow-up audit. As a result of the work already under way, many of the risks identified during the course of the audit have already been addressed or are in the process of being addressed through an active program of work.
8.0 Audit findings
8.1 Administrative investigation process
18. When allegations of misconduct are brought forward, managers are required to notify PSPSD and provide information on the allegation. The allegation is then assessed and the manner to investigate the allegation is decided upon.
19. To investigate employee misconduct in a fair, transparent and thorough manner, we expected a process to be documented, respectful of procedural fairness, consistently followed, and validated by quality control.
20. The objective of the triage process is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegation and to determine who should conduct the investigation. The process is documented and, during the scope of the audit, required that allegations be entered into the case management system and assigned to an analyst. The analyst determines if an investigation is warranted and recommends whether it should be conducted by the PSPSD or management. The assessment and decision are then reviewed and approved by the PSPSD manager. During the scope period, 702 allegations were received and triaged by PSPSD. Subsequently, 65 allegations were investigated by PSPSD and 500 allegations were referred back to management for investigation.
Investigations conducted by PSPSD
21. PSPSD is responsible for investigating serious allegations, which include high risk and complex cases. Procedures and guidance for investigations were defined in several documents, such as the Treasury Board Secretariat Handbook on Administrative Investigations for Security Functional Specialists (The Handbook), which PSPSD staff stated they followed. Additionally, a Professional Standards Management Framework was established by PSPSD in 2016 and includes procedures for completing investigations. Some procedural documents were available on the Professional Standards Wiki site and on the CBSA intranet. Policies and procedures implemented by the CBSA were rescinded in March 2016 by the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board because some elements of the policy concerned procedures, which were under negotiation at the time of collective bargaining. Nevertheless, we reviewed all CBSA policies and procedures available to us and found them to be mostly aligned with Treasury Board Secretariat Guidance.
22. When an allegation is deemed of lower risk, management is assigned the investigation/fact-finding. Currently, the processes for management-led investigations are not standardized. Management relies on regionally developed guidelines, procedures and templates for conducting investigations. Procedural documentation differed in the level of detail, with some regions having developed more comprehensive procedures than others. Although nationalized guidance was developed in March 2007, it was not widely known by the regional staff and has not been updated in 13 years. The lack of a standardized approach and national guidance may affect the quality and fairness of investigations.
Gaps in the design of PSPSD and management-led investigation processes
23. While reviewing the procedural documentation and misconduct files, we identified gaps in the internal processes compared to Treasury Board Secretariat guidance (The Handbook). Quality control and procedural fairness were identified as areas requiring improvement.
24. Quality control, such as supervisory review and approval, helps ensure that allegations are thoroughly investigated and that appropriate conclusions are drawn. It can be demonstrated through reviewed and approved investigation working papers, electronic approvals, or quality control checklists. The lack of appropriate supervisory review may lead to investigations of inconsistent quality.
25. The Handbook recommends that the final investigation report be reviewed and approved. Appendix A of the TB guidance recommends procedures to help ensure all important aspects of the investigation file are reviewed prior to approving the final report, so as to ensure the soundness of the evidence and analysis upon which the report is based. For example, Appendix A recommends ensuring that all elements of the Terms of Reference were completed, all relevant documents were examined and all key witnesses were interviewed. This process is not in place at CBSA for PSPSD-led or management-led investigations. The delineation of roles and responsibilities between management and LR Advisors for reviewing and approving the final investigation report for management-led investigations is also unclear.
26. Procedural fairness is essential to ensure investigations are conducted fairly, transparently and free of bias. Procedural fairness is comprised of many elements, such as objectivity and the respondent’s right to be informed and right to respond.
27. The Handbook states that the draft investigation report should be shared with the respondent so as to seek their feedback (the right to respond), and that the final report should also be shared with the respondent (the right to be informed) in order to notify them of the results of the investigation.
28. Sharing the draft report with the respondent before the report is finalized, so they can review the facts gathered and respond to the preliminary observations of the investigation, is not part of the Agency’s current investigation process. PSPSD stated that the respondent has the opportunity to respond to the final report during the subsequent disciplinary process led by LR. However, if the respondent is not provided with the opportunity to comment on the draft report during the investigation process, additional time may be required at the disciplinary stage to clarify facts. Additionally, inaccuracies identified in the final report could be perceived as unfair by the respondent and may be challenged through grievances and other processes, creating additional workload for the Agency. As such, it may be more transparent to the respondent and more efficient for the Agency to provide the respondent with the draft report for comment during the investigation process, and for PSPSD to review, analyze and include any relevant information prior to the report being finalized. This practice would also align with TBS guidance.Footnote 2
29. Another key element of procedural fairness is to ensure that the investigation is conducted in an objective manner. Ensuring that there is no real or apparent impairment to objectivity of the investigator is a practice recommended by the Handbook. Documenting whether a conflict of interest exists prior to launching an investigation is a good practice to assess objectivity. In July 2018, PSPSD revised the terms of reference template used when planning the investigation. The new template requires the investigators to assess whether a conflict of interest exists prior to launching an investigation.
30. For management-led investigations, we noted that some regions take steps to reduce the likelihood of a conflict of interest, such as by having an independent third party conduct the investigation. However, an assessment of conflict of interest prior to initiating a management-led investigation is not always conducted.
31. Section 4.3.3 of the Handbook states that employees should have the right to communicate in the official language of their choice. While we saw elements of official language requirements embedded in some processes and templates, we did not see evidence in all files that the respondent’s language of choice was confirmed and that final reports were made available in the respondent’s preferred language. In July 2018, PSPSD implemented process improvements to ensure official language requirements were considered prior to launching an investigation. It would be important to ensure that official languages rights are also fully embedded in management-led investigations.
Effectiveness of the administrative investigation process
32. The following random sampleFootnote 3 of investigation files was selected to assess whether the investigative process was followed:
- 50 triage assessments conducted by PSPSD
- 10 investigations conducted by PSPSD
- 25 investigations conducted by management
The selected sample of files focussed on closed investigations and triage processes between and . We selected closed files in order to assess all applicable steps of the investigation process. The selected files included both founded and unfounded misconduct incidents.
33. As staff in PSPSD stated they followed the Handbook, we used it, along with the procedures developed by CBSA, to establish expectations for PSPSD-led investigations. Given that multiple regional processes existed across the Agency, the key expectations for management-led investigations were derived from the Handbook. We also reviewed the TBS Handbook on Administrative Investigations into Misconduct for labour relations advisors and found it to be consistent with the expectations we established from the TBS Handbook on Administrative Investigations for Security Functional Specialists. Files were assessed to determine whether key documentation was retained to demonstrate that the process was followed.
34. We looked for evidence on file demonstrating an assessment of the allegation, a decision on who was responsible for the investigation, and supervisory review of the decision.
35. Assessments of the allegations were available for 35 of the 50 files reviewed. A decision on who would conduct the investigation was on file for 43 of 50 files. This suggests that triage decisions were either made without an assessment being completed, or the assessment was not documented. Lastly, supervisory review of the decision was not on file for 20 of 50 files.
36. The triage process changed over the course of the audit, and various templates were used to assess allegations. In , PSPSD implemented a Preliminary Analysis Report to document the analysis of the allegation and the recommendation on who should conduct the investigation, as well as to formalize the supervisory review and approval of the triage analysis. Our sample included 18 allegations received after August 2018. Of these 18 files, 6 did not have preliminary assessments on file. Ensuring that this report is consistently produced will be important to ensure that files are appropriately triaged, approved and documented.
Professional standards investigations
37. We reviewed 10 investigations completed by PSPSD and found that, for all applicable cases, the respondent was notified and interviewed, an analysis of the facts was conducted, all allegations were addressed, and an approved final report was on file, as expected by the Handbook.
38. An approved Terms of Reference provides the investigator the formal authority to investigate an allegation, establishes the parameters of the investigation and is a means to formally inform management of the allegations prior to launching an investigation. TBS and internal CBSA guidance and procedures require plans and terms of references (or mandates) to be developed when planning investigations. The Terms of Reference was not on file for 4 of the 10 investigations we reviewed.
39. An approved investigation plan, which outlines the allegations to be investigated, sources of evidence to be used and procedures to gather the evidence, was not on file in 7 of 10 investigations we reviewed.
40. Management informed us that in July 2018, PSPSD implemented a standardized investigation plan template and a standardized template for the Terms of Reference. Only one investigation in our sample was launched after July 2018, and it contained both documents. It is important that investigation planning be documented, to ensure that investigations are thorough and that the investigation cover topics, which are within the expected scope.
41. Based on our assessment of the 24 management-led filesFootnote 4, we concluded that investigative files did not consistently contain expected documentation. The evidence that the employee was notified and responded to the allegation was on file for 18 of 24 files. Only 13 of 24 files contained a conclusion of the allegation, such as a final report. Of the 13 final reports, we saw evidence that it was shared with the respondent in only 7 instances. Of note, the data we obtained showed that 7 investigations reached a conclusion that the allegations were founded, yet the outcome was not documented via a formal report.
42. We assessed final reports and investigation files for evidence of quality control, such as a quality control checklist, or the documented review and approval by a supervisor. This is a requirement of the Handbook and is a good practice to ensure that conclusions are appropriate. Only 3 of 13 final reports on file showed evidence of quality control. As previously indicated, the roles and responsibilities for supervisory review are not clearly delineated for management-led investigations, which may explain this gap.
43. In summary, our review of CBSA’s processes for PSPSD-led and management-led investigations showed that updates are required to align practices with those recommended by the Treasury Board Secretariat and that key documents need to be retained on file to better demonstrate that the process was followed.
Recommendation 1: As the functional lead for misconduct investigations, the Vice-President of the Finance and Corporate Management Branch, in collaboration with the Vice-President of the Human Resources Branch, should update and communicate a clear process for conducting misconduct investigations that is aligned with Treasury Board Secretariat guidance, and includes appropriate elements of procedural fairness (objectivity and official languages) and quality control (supervisory review and approval).
Management response: Management agrees with the need to further review and analyze Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) guidance to identify any gaps that exist and align misconduct investigation processes where practicable and appropriate, taking care to assess and document any decision to deviate from TBS guidance in light of CBSA’s operational realities and use of a standalone misconduct investigation function.
Management will conduct a gap analysis between current practices and TBS guidance and will revise its processes accordingly through revision to policy instruments and internal processes. Changes will be communicated to employees and stakeholders accordingly.
Recommendation 2: The Vice-President of the Finance and Corporate Management Branch, in consultation with the Vice-President of the Human Resources Branch, should update the investigation process to include procedures for sharing the draft investigation report with the respondent prior to the report being finalized.
Management response: Management agrees to consider this recommendation and commits to implementing the decision of the appropriate governance body on the matter following the result of the gap analysis and other activities in support of Recommendation 1 and consultation with stakeholders.
8.2 Training, guidance, and support
44. Ongoing training, guidance and support helps ensure that employees can conduct investigations and fact findings in an effective manner. If adequate training and guidance are not available, procedures may not be consistently applied or meet investigative standards, which could compromise the investigation. This could erode the trust of employees during the investigation process, negatively affect the Agency’s culture, and prevent employees from reporting future misconduct. As such, we expected that investigators, investigations analysts, labour relations advisors and management received training, guidance and support to perform their tasks.
45. While we did find that training for investigators is identified on the CBSA Wiki, PSPSD management indicated that it was no longer relevant, as it focussed on criminal investigations rather than administrative investigations. At the conclusion of this audit, there is no up-to-date training curriculum for investigators. PSPSD mainly relies on hiring individuals with prior investigation experience, on the job learning, and various guidelines and templates to guide investigators. This includes the Professional Standards Investigation Manual, the Treasury Board Secretariat Handbook on Administrative Investigations for Security Functional Specialists, and Agency-developed templates for assessing allegations, notifying witnesses, and developing reports.
46. There is no mandatory training or training curriculum for Labour Relations advisors for assisting management in conducting investigations. Advisors from two regions identified the Labour Relations for Human Resources Advisors (P703) course, offered by the Canada School of Public Service. This four-day course intended for Human Resource professionals covers a variety of topics, including administrative investigations, but it is not mandatory. Most learning for LR advisors appears to be done on-the-job. Support is provided from PSPSD when required.
47. Management from six of eight regions indicated that they have received training from their LR advisors with respect to administrative investigations, along with support when needed. We reviewed training documentation and found that although there was relevant information on how to conduct administrative investigations, the level of detail included in training varied from region to region. Some training focused more on discipline rather than the investigative process. Managers indicated that additional training on how to conduct fact finding and investigations would be useful.
48. Five of eight regions provided internally developed tools, templates, and standard operating procedures. The documentation provided to us varied in the level of detail. The Managers’ Guide to Conducting Internal Investigations was developed by PSPSD in 2007 and was intended as the nationalized guidance for managers. This document includes guidelines for investigations, however, it was last updated 13 years ago and its existence was not widely known by LR Advisors and management.
49. The 2015 Internal Audit of Professional Standards made two recommendations related to improving training and guidance. Although action was taken, the results of the present audit show that more work is required in this area. Particularly, as noted above, the guidance relied upon by management to conduct investigations has not been updated in 13 years, the training curriculum established following the original audit for PSPSD investigators is no longer relevant, and some regions have developed more detailed training than other regions. Inconsistent training and guidance may lead to some managers being less equipped than others for conducting investigations which, in turn, could result in varying quality of investigations across the Agency and potentially inappropriate disciplinary measures.
Recommendation 3: The Vice-President of the Finance and Corporate Management Branch, in consultation with the Vice-President of the Human Resources Branch, should identify the required training and formalize guidance, including for management-led investigations, for all key players involved in conducting administrative investigations.
Management response: Management agrees with the need for a consistent approach to investigations and has already taken significant steps in that regard, primarily through the implementation of the tiered approach to investigations.
Guidance for management and labour relations already exists in the form of the TBS Handbook on Administrative Investigations into Misconduct, and is being supplemented as required through the development of internal guidance in support of the implementation of the tiered approach. In line with this guidance, development of a “Just-in-time” training package is being planned to ensure that managers asked to conduct an investigation have the training they need.
A formal training curriculum has been developed for PSI Investigators to ensure consistent training from both the onboarding and continuous professional development perspective. Management will consider the needs of the labour relations community in this regard and develop a training curriculum, or expand the existing training curriculum, for labour relations advisors accordingly.
8.3 Tracking, monitoring and reporting
Tracking of employee misconduct
50. Tracking alleged employee misconduct is important as it facilitates consistent, accurate, and reliable analysis, such as monitoring timeliness and service standards for ongoing investigations. Recording key pieces of information, such as the type of misconduct or key dates, can help management conduct meaningful analysis and improve the management of investigations. We assessed whether alleged employee misconduct is tracked across the Agency.
51. The process in place at the time of the audit required all misconduct allegations to be reported to PSPSD. The process allowed PSPSD to create a record for all reported allegations in the IA Pro system. Data extracts provided by PSPSD contained tombstone information for each allegation, such as the type of allegation, result of the investigation, branch of origin and location of misconduct. IA Pro can be used to extract data to generate reports, such as the Security and Professional Standards Annual Report.
52. We found that the regions also track their misconduct cases. After reviewing the tools used to track misconduct regionally, we concluded that the information collected varied from region to region.
Trend analysis and continuous improvement
53. Leveraging misconduct data to conduct trend analysis is an important activity to identify problematic and unacceptable behavioural trends, inform senior management and take action to address areas of frequent misconduct or hot spots. Trend analysis can help senior management take the steps required to improve processes or correct unacceptable behaviour.
54. Currently, trend analysis conducted by PSPSD is comprised of year-to-year comparisons on the types of allegations, completed files, and founded/unfounded cases. This reporting is included in the Security and Professional Standards Annual Report. We did not find evidence demonstrating how the information captured was used to address areas of frequent misconduct.
55. PSPSD had developed service standards for completing low, medium and high complexity investigations. These service standards allow management to determine whether investigations are being completed in a timely manner, and take action if an investigation is not progressing as expected. The service standards are being tracked and reported to the Chief Security Officer on a quarterly basis.
56. There is limited monitoring and trend analysis conducted by the regions. While three of eight regions indicated that they conduct trend analysis and have discussions with management on the trends identified, these activities are not formalized or conducted regularly. It is unclear how trends identified through monitoring and analysis are used for continuous improvement, such as providing training to employees or sending reminders about specific types of inappropriate behaviours.
The new tiered approach
57. Recently, the Agency introduced changes to the intake and triage process for misconduct allegations known as the Tiered Approach. The new approach introduces three tiers of investigations and identifies who is responsible to investigate each tier. The purpose of the tiered approach is to improve the intake and preliminary assessment process for allegations in order to allow for quicker resolution of low risk cases, better support management for medium risk cases, and focus investigative resources on higher risk casesFootnote 5. The tiered approach was presented and approved at the OneHR Committee in September 2019. The following investigation tiers have been developed by PSPSD:
- Tier 1 - Low risk or complexity cases that can be addressed directly by management in collaboration with Labour Relations
- Tier 2 - Low-medium risk or complexity cases led by PSPSD with management providing assistance
- Tier 3 - Medium-High risk or complexity cases addressed by PSPSD
58. We assessed the design of the tiered approach, to determine whether roles and responsibilities were defined and criteria were developed to determine the different tiers of investigation, and we assessed whether a plan was developed to communicate the tiered-approach to all relevant parties. In order for the new approach to succeed, it is important that the individuals involved be engaged, understand how it impacts them and know what is required of them.
59. In , an email was distributed to the Agency’s Senior Management communicating upcoming changes for misconduct investigations. Key elements of a plan were included in the messaging, such as specific actions, individuals responsible and timelines for implementing the tiered-approach. The email stated that management teams and LR advisors would be briefed by the end of the fiscal year, and that they would be responsible to brief their extended management teams. The message also stated that published content would be updated so employees would become aware of the avenues to report inappropriate behaviour.
60. Roles and responsibilities for determining who was responsible to conduct an investigation were defined, but have not yet been shared Agency-wide at the time of this report. Detailed examples of misconduct types were developed for each tier and serve as criteria for determining under which tier an allegation will fall. It is also clear that PSPSD can be consulted if needed to help make a determination.
61. Although general roles and responsibilities have been established, the tiered approach does not clarify the responsibility for conducting quality assurance over Tier 1 investigations. According to PSPSD, management and LR should be responsible to ensure the quality of Tier I investigations. However, managers and Labour Relation advisors were not aware of this expectation. Approximately 90% of CBSA administrative investigations are management-led. As Tier 1 investigations will continue to account for the large majority of misconduct investigations, it will be important to clarify who will be responsible for performing quality assurance.
62. The new tiered approach will also impact the roles and responsibilities with respect to tracking of misconduct information. Management will not be required to report Tier 1 allegations to PSPSD and will be expected to manage these allegations directly. The new approach will shift the responsibility for tracking Tier 1 misconduct cases from PSPSD – the functional lead on administrative investigations – to LR and management. We did not see evidence that a national process was developed to guide and consolidate the tracking of all cases of Tier 1 misconduct. Furthermore, the roles, responsibilities and plans for trend analysis and reporting around Tier 1 allegations are not clear.
63. Without delineating roles and responsibilities for tracking and reporting, there is a risk that the Agency will not have a full picture of all reported misconduct allegations. As such, identifying trends in undesirable behaviour and taking actions to address those issues will not be possible.
Recommendation 4: The Vice-President of the Finance and Corporate Management Branch, in collaboration with the Vice-President, Human Resources Branch, should clarify the roles and responsibilities and implement a process for tracking and reporting on all types of misconduct investigations.
Management response: Management agrees with the need to ensure proper tracking and reporting of investigations into misconduct and will ensure that roles and responsibilities in this regard are clarified and included in the relevant policy instruments, procedures or guidance documents.
Existing tracking and reporting mechanisms, such as the Security Annual Report presented by FCMB and the tracking activities of the HRB with regards to discipline present an opportunity to further develop tracking and reporting tools.
HRB will adopt a yearly annual report on disciplinary measures, which by their nature include investigations, to the appropriate governance body, with FCMB continuing their yearly reporting on investigations through the Security Annual Report.
64. Quality assurance (QA) is a review of the quality of the investigation by an independent, objective individual. An effective QA program helps assess the effectiveness, consistency, and quality of investigations by ensuring that processes are followed, documented, and conclusions are supported. The lack of a QA program may lead to investigations of inconsistent quality, drawing inappropriate conclusions, and lacking compliance with established requirements.
65. PSPSD developed a QA Framework in November 2018, which identifies independent and external assessments to be completed for both management-led and PSPSD-led investigations. However, at the time of the audit, the framework had not been implemented. Checklists and sampling plans required to implement the framework had not been yet developed.
66. In June 2019, PSPSD engaged a third party consultant to perform a QA review of its Professional Standards Investigation (PSI) program to ensure investigation practices were conducted effectively and with quality. This assessment was aimed at ensuring that PSPSD’s practices were aligned with industry best practices. The report was finalized in January 2020 and made several recommendations, including developing a comprehensive quality assurance program.
67. Management-led investigations account for the vast majority of the Agency’s misconduct investigations. Following the implementation of the tiered approach, PSPSD will no longer be overseeing management-led investigations. Therefore, these files will not be subject to the QA that PSPSD intends to develop for the tier 2 and 3 investigations. If no QA process is established, management-led investigations may be performed in an inconsistent or ineffective manner. There is also a risk that investigations that are conducted regionally do not meet the criteria established for allegations that management is equipped to investigate. Consequently, this leaves the Agency exposed to founded grievances or successful challenges at the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board, and may cause additional stress and hardship for employees involved.
Recommendation 5: The Vice-President of the Finance and Corporate Management Branch, in collaboration with the Vice-President of the Human Resources Branch, should ensure that a risk-based Quality Assurance Framework is implemented for all types (or tier) of misconduct investigations.
Management response: Management agrees with the need for a strong, risk-based Quality Assurance Framework for misconduct investigations, including both those led by management and by PSI.
Following development of a PSI QA Framework in late 2018, FCMB is presently in the second year of a contract into place to allow for a yearly third-party quality assurance review, which includes reviewing a sampling of investigation files and the issuance of a report with recommended improvements. The first report, received by FCMB in February 2020, included recommendations on governance, preliminary analysis, conduct of investigations, communication of results and quality assurance, all of which were accepted and are in the process of being addressed.
The scope of the Quality Assurance Framework will be expanded to include management-led investigations, which will include a sampling of discipline files.
Appendix A: About the audit
Audit objective and scope
The objective of this follow-up audit was to determine whether there were adequate controls in place over the conduct of investigations and the tracking and monitoring of misconduct, as well as to assess whether key players had access to training and support to perform administrative investigations into alleged employee misconduct.
The scope of this follow-up audit included the management of alleged employee misconduct from to .
Overall, this follow-up audit examined the management control framework around professional standards, including:
- the investigative process and guidance
- training and tools for those who carry out and support investigations and fact findings
- the collection, tracking, and reporting of professional standards data
- the design of the new tiered approach on the intake and triage process for allegations of misconduct
This follow-up audit excluded the following:
- the Agency’s initiatives to raise awareness and prevent misconduct
- service standards for investigations
- the application of disciplinary measures
- governance committees that oversee professional standards
- investigations into allegations of wrongdoing under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
- investigations into allegations of harassment/violence in the workplace
- other investigations not related to misconduct
Given the preliminary findings from the planning phase, the following criteria were chosen:
Line of enquiry 1: Investigation process
- 1.1 The investigation process is documented and followed.
- 1.2 The new tiered approach to the investigations intake and triage process includes well defined roles and responsibilities.
- 1.3 Plans have been developed to communicate the investigation process and the new tiered approach to key stakeholders (investigators, labour relations, and management).
- 1.4 The investigation process addresses procedural fairness.
- 1.5 Supervisory review over fact findings and investigations is in place.
- 1.6 The proposed Quality Assurance process design will support effective monitoring.
Line of enquiry 2: Training, guidance, and support
- 2.1 Staff involved in fact findings and investigations have received training to perform their expected tasks.
- 2.2 Guidance and support is available for staff to perform their expected tasks.
Line of enquiry 3: Tracking, monitoring and reporting
- 3.1 Alleged employee misconduct is tracked across the agency.
- 3.2 Alleged employee misconduct data is used for trend analysis and continuous improvement.
Appendix B: List of acronyms
- Canada Border Services Agency
- Labour Relations
- Personnel Security and Professional Standards Division
- Professional Standards Investigation
- Quality Assurance
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