ARCHIVED - Audit of the Management of the Official Languages Program at Public Works and Government Services Canada - Follow-up

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August 2008

The initial audit recommendations focused on the following:

  • adopting a departmental policy;
  • expanding Public Works and Government Services Canada’s (PWGSC’s) action plan and preparing an annual report on the achievement of the plan’s objectives;
  • communicating employee’s rights and responsibilities;
  • offering language training and retention activities;
  • raising awareness among managers about respect for linguistic duality;
  • incorporating official languages objectives into performance agreements;
  • implementing effective control mechanisms.

The analysis of PWGSC’s progress report by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) notes the following achievements:

  • An official languages accountability framework has been put in place. The framework includes an official languages policy that covers Parts IV, V, VI and VII as well as section 91 of the Official Languages Act.
  • The Department has reported to the Canada Public Service Agency annually on its activities pertaining to the implementation of Parts IV, V and VI of the Official Languages Act. In May 2007, the Department expanded its strategic action plan to embed official languages in the organizational culture. The plan contains four specific objectives: to strengthen the commitment and leadership of senior management, to increase awareness of the Act and of the importance of fostering the development of official language minority communities, to ensure sufficient bilingual capacity and to create a respectful workplace conducive to the use of both official languages.
  • PWGSC’s annual report to Canadian Heritage on the results achieved with respect to the implementation of section 41 of the Official Languages Act has described the Department’s initiatives in the following areas: awareness, consultation, communications, coordination and liaison, financing and delivering programs, and accountability with respect to the development of official language minority communities and the promotion of both official languages in Canadian society.
  • A communications strategy has targeted senior managers, managers, employees in the National Capital Region and the regions, students and new recruits. The strategy is designed to ensure that all staff members have the same understanding of their rights and responsibilities with regard to official languages.
  • Several monitoring and control mechanisms have been put in place for official languages, such as the Human Resources Management System and an electronic official languages complaint management system that enables the Department to produce various reports and gain an overall appreciation of the nature of the problems in each of its branches. These systems allow better management and co-ordination of complaints by sector.
  • In response to another audit recommendation, specific official languages objectives have been integrated into the performance agreements of all managers in the EX group. In addition, in June 2006, the assistant deputy ministers and regional directors general included official languages objectives in the performance agreements of non–EXs. Similar objectives have been included in the 2007–2008 performance agreements for EXs.
  • Senior management has taken an active role in the management of the official languages program. The Departmental Operations Committee, chaired by the Associate Deputy Minister, met with the Official Languages Directorate seven times in 2006–2007 to discuss the Department’s strategic action plan, to review actions taken to promote linguistic duality and to follow up on the implementation of OCOL’s recommendations. In 2007, the Department established the Official Languages Governance Committee, which is chaired by the two official languages champions and made up of official languages ambassadors from the Department’s various branches and regions. This committee is responsible for discussing strategic issues related to official languages and for adopting action plans and it reports directly to the Corporate Policy Committee, which is chaired by the Deputy Minister.

OCOL’s analysis, however, also indicated that four of the 12 audit recommendations were not fully implemented.

Recommendation 6

That Public Works and Government Services Canada require that subdelegated managers justify in the staffing files the language requirements of the positions based on the criteria of the Public Service Commission guide Determining the Linguistic Profile for Bilingual Positions.

A departmental review of the linguistic designation of bilingual positions is currently underway in order to ensure that the language competencies objectively reflect the duties to be performed. This review will continue through 2008. PWGSC intends to continue using the Public Service Commission’s guide to determine the linguistic profile of bilingual positions and intends to offer half-day official languages awareness and information sessions for managers and supervisors to help them acquire the knowledge necessary to objectively identify the language requirements of bilingual positions. It should be noted that the proportion of bilingual positions requiring a C level for oral interaction has risen from 23.4 percent in 2004–2005 to 29.9 percent in 2006–2007.

Recommendation 8

That Public Works and Government Services Canada develop a language training and learning retention policy and plan, and report on the progress it has made in implementing this plan in its annual report.

Development of the policy was delayed because numerous changes were made to the Canada School of Public Service’s language training model; however, the policy was expected to be approved by March 31, 2008. The intent of the policy is to ensure that incumbents of bilingual positions appointed on a non-imperative basis meet the language requirements of their positions within the time periods set out in the Public Service Official Languages Exclusion Approval Order. It also seeks to support an environment that fosters learning, to increase the Department’s bilingual capacity and to promote the equitable career advancement of both language groups. 

Recommendation 9

That Public Works and Government Services Canada demand that managers (EX group and members of la Relève) be mandated to attend awareness sessions on linguistic duality and respect for official languages.

PWGSC favours a non-mandatory awareness strategy, relying instead on its managers’ community, to inform employees in feeder groups, and on management retreats, to inform EX managers. In support of this strategy, the Department’s Official Languages Directorate gave more than 13 presentations on linguistic obligations to branch management committees, and information sessions, which began in the fall of 2007 and were expected to continue to March 2008, were also being held for managers and supervisors.

Recommendation 12(c)

That Public Works and Government Services Canada include official languages in internal audits.

PWGSC’s Audit and Evaluation Branch will conduct an internal audit in 2009–2010 of offices designated bilingual for the purposes of service to the public.