Staffing Committee

Staffing Committee Minutes

April 17-19, 2012
In attendance:   Sabri Khayat   Chairperson
Adam Jackson  Co-Chairperson
Madonna Gardiner  TC Representative
Chris Di Liberatore    TSO Representative
Linda Cassidy  Technical Advisor
Shane O’Brien Senior Labour Relations Advisor

Brother Sabri Khayat opened the meeting welcoming the Committee members, especially Brother Adam Jackson as this is his first meeting as the Co-Chairperson of the Committee.  Brother Khayat also advised that Brother Shane O’Brien would be sitting in on this meeting as he will be replacing Sister Cassidy on the Staffing Committee until she returns on Dec 31st 2012.

Brother Khayat congratulated Sister Cassidy on her appointment to the PSAC.

The following report is a summary of what transpired:

1. Working Methods of the Committee  

This is a standing item on the agenda to ensure that we remain cognizant of how we effectively work together.

2. Work Descriptions

The Committee received nineteen (19) work descriptions for their review since our last meeting. Comments have been provided to the employer on all.

3. Specified Period Employees

This item remains as a standing item on our agenda and the Committee continues to meet as required with CRA on matters related to specified period employees. There is nothing to report at this time.

The Committee would again like to remind the Locals that The Managers Guide to Term Rehire should be reviewed.

 4.  Performance Management Working Group (PMWG)

Since the last Minutes of the Staffing committee, the PMWG has had several Teleconferences.  In particular, the Committee did meet in June and Dec 2011 as well as in April 2012.

Highlights of the April 3rd, 2012 Conference Call:

MG Cycle Communication

April 1, 2012 marks the launch of the 2012-2013 cycle for the MG group and HR equivalent managers.  There were no specific changes this year to the Effective People Management (EPM) expectations. The Assistant Commissioner of the Human Resources Branch, Cheryl Fraser, sent out the attached message to the Agency Management Committee members.  This message reminds supervising managers of some of the tools available on the Performance Management InfoZone site. A message will be posted on the MG corner within the next few weeks to inform managers that the new MG cycle has begun.

The same template as was used last year for the Review committee report will be used again this year. It will be communicated to the PMA’s within the next few weeks.

There have also been some changes to the Employee Performance Management Report (Y280) and the Performance Management Report and Addendum to the Employee Performance Management Report (Y280-1).  These new forms are for the 2012-2013 cycle. These changes were based on feedback received from managers about transferring the information to MSS. The manager will now only need to enter an overall assessment as opposed to entering an assessment after each objective. The section with the drop down for competencies has also been removed. However, it couldn’t be removed from MSS because that requires 6 months’ notice. Text was added to the Y280-1 stating that the addendum doesn’t get sent to compensation unless a manager is receiving a reward.

Update on Virtual Management

HQ has received a lot of information on virtual management from the regions. The information focuses on structural issues and human nature (i.e. communication, accountability). Training and Learning (TLD) created a course, HQ1586-000 Managing Virtual Teams Performing outside of the Box. This course is now 5 years old and the Performance Management section needs to be updated and referred to TLD for review by other HQ subject matter experts such as Resourcing and Workplace Relations to ensure that their components are current.  The Performance Management team will be creating tools relating to virtual management. By the end of summer, we will have something ready for the PMA’s (Performance Management Advisors) and have something posted on our InfoZone site.

The next Teleconference is scheduled on June 5th, 2012.

5. Performance Management Program

As reported in our June 2011 Minutes (Item 10), the Union provided comments on the Employee Performance Management Procedures and the Performance Pay and Leave Guidelines, and the employer provided its response.  The approved documents were issued to the field in December 2011.

6. MG03/MG05 Performance Expectations for TSDMB

As reported in our June 2011 Minutes (Item 14), the CRA provided the final versions of the standardized program performance expectations for Team Leaders (MG-03), Managers (MG-05) and Assistant Directors (MG-05) in Debt Management Programs. Management also included a communiqué that was issued to the field and a Question & Answer document for those individuals that this initiative impacts.

As the Union did not have any requested changes or modifications to these documents and there have been no queries received from the field on this matter, there is no further action required by our Committee.

7.   Performance Management and Staffing

In February 2012, the employer notified the Union that they were issuing a communiquéé to the field. It should be noted that the Union was provided with advance notification of the communiquéé, but we were not consulted on the subject matter.

The communiqué issued by the CRA reads as follows:

Performance and Staffing – Making it Matter

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is a diverse and dynamic organization that serves Canadians with excellence, now and into the future. Workplace excellence means aiming for high-quality performance, being driven by ethics and values, and staying focused on results. Each employee has a part to play in the CRA’s excellence agenda and individual contributions will be recognized. The CRA values the performance of its employees, and on-the-job performance does and will always matter.

As you know, the performance management cycle for employees is well under way and the next performance management cycle for managers will start in April. It is an opportune time for employees and managers to fully engage in the performance process. Employees must be committed in their performance. Managers must give employees ongoing feedback, and support them in improving their performance.

In our continued pursuit of excellence, we will advance our staffing and performance management programs over the coming months to ensure that employees’ performance is given greater consideration in staffing decisions.

We look forward to engaging with stakeholders, including the unions, as we implement this approach thoughtfully. We know that these efforts will bring the CRA closer to its vision as a model tax and benefit administration.

The Chairperson and the Technical Advisor of the Committee have been invited to a meeting with CRA on April 24th, 2012.  A summary of this report will be provided to the Executive Council and the Locals.  No further action is required at this time.

8. Debt Management Program Delivery Model

The employer is now reporting on each of the initiatives individually.  Thus, we will no longer have the Program Delivery Model as a standing item.

9. Quality and Program Assurance Officer (QPAO) SP0699 Performance Expectations

A meeting was held on Sept.13th, 2011 on the QPAO Performance Expectations. The Union discussed the expectations with the employer.

On September 20th, 2011, the employer advised the Union that the final QPAO performance expectations were sent for distribution to the Assistant Directors. A note indicated that they are not currently posted on Infozone as Management is in the process of getting all of the various standardized expectations posted on a common page.

No further action is required by our Committee at this time.

10. Performance Management Pilot Pacific

The following is taken from a communication from the employer:

Background

The Performance Measurement & Budgeting (PMB) Pacific Pilot was launched in April 2009.  The pilot, developed by the Pacific Region and the Compliance Programs Branch, is promoting a balanced approach to performance measurement by testing a new Performance Management Framework (PMF), new Key Performance Indicators (KPI), scoring and benchmarks that focus on efficiency and quality in the conduct of audits.

The pilot has run for two fiscal years and continues in the current fiscal year.  Per the project charter, a detailed analysis and final report with recommendations is due in the fall 2011.

Pilot Expansion in 2011-2012

Based on preliminary findings, the results are very encouraging. The buy-in from the auditor up to senior management is very high and the implementation of the Pilot created a very positive effect on the work environment. The Director Generals of the Small and Medium Enterprise Directorate, the GST/HST Audit and Examination Directorate and the Business Transformation and Corporate Management Directorate have agreed to proceed with a gradual expansion of the pilot beyond the Pacific Region in the current fiscal year.

In consultation with the Regions, this is to inform you that, effective September 2011 the pilot is being expanded to the following offices across the following regions:

Quebec Region

  • Eastern Quebec TSO
  • Outaouais & Rouyn-Noranda TSO

Ontario Region

  • Hamilton TSO
  • Toronto West TSO
  • Windsor TSO

Prairie Region

  • Edmonton TSO
  • Regina TSO

The Small Business Audit Programs (Income Tax and GST/HST) and the Medium Business Audit Programs (Income Tax and GST/HST) will be included in the pilot.  Expansion of the pilot will exclude the GST/HST Pre-payment Program. The Pacific Region will continue to operate under the current parameters.

At the time that we launched it in 2009 we informed you of our plan and we felt it was important to keep you posted with our plans for the expansion. 

The Committee will follow up with the employer to request a copy of the report.

N.B.  For the next communications, this item will be reported under:

Performance Management Pilots.

11.   TSDMB Work Assessment Checklists (WAC):

SP-05 Insolvency:  In December 2011 the Committee was provided with the Work Assessment Checklist for the SP5 insolvency. They adapted the WAC for the regular workload in Tax to develop this one.

The following comments were provided to the employer:

The descriptions could be better written for clarity. It was noted that some of the descriptions were a bit confusing, and it was unclear if the actions being reviewed were those of the Insolvency Officer, or the Collection Officer who would have been responsible prior to the receipt of the creditor’s package or stay of proceedings. We would also recommend that the title clearly indicate Insolvency unit so as to not confuse this document with the others.

Our comments were accepted by the CRA and the amended Work Assessment Checklist has now been implemented.

SP-04 Insolvency:  In January 2012, management advised they would be developing this checklist.  During the April 2012 meeting with TSDMB, the union requested an update on this item.  Management advised that they had drafted a version of a checklist and it was being piloted in two locations. Management expects they will have a draft ready for the Union’s review by September 2012.

12. Trust Accounts Quality Assurance Framework (TAQAF)

The employer advised the National Union that the Trust Accounts Programs Division (TAPD) will be introducing a quality assurance framework for their programs and they will be developing a quality assurance tool specific to each program to be used within the scope of the framework.

As the Union provided its comments to the employer in May 2011 and the employer subsequently responded, no further action is required.

13. Greeting Policy Pilot

The employer has extended the pilot, presented in the June 2011 Minutes (Item 16) until June 2012.  CRA advised that a copy of the draft report outlining this initiative will be provided to the Union.

14.   Employer Compliance Audit  (ECA) Renewal

The Union requested an update on the ECA Renewal during the meeting with TSDMB. The new vision is a three-pronged approach relating to responsible enforcement, proactive education and audits. Information received from the CRA has been shared on an ongoing basis with locals and the council.  CRA has also committed to ensuring the Union is kept informed of the progress of this renewal exercise.

15.   Non Filer Renewal

During the meeting of April 18th, 2012 with TSDMB the Non-Filer Renewal Initiative was discussed. There is no additional information to share at this time.

16.   Atlantic Pilot on 519 workload

The employer advised that the pilot project conducted in the Atlantic for 519 workload over a six (6) month period has been completed and although they believe the program was very successful they do not expect it will be continued.

The employer has committed to sharing a copy of the draft report with the Union.

17.   Caller Accessibility

The CRA provided the following update on November 2011:

As you know, over the past several years, the service delivery model for Taxpayer Services programs has undergone significant changes to better meet the needs of Canadians, including the consolidation of its call centres, the enhancement of information available on the CRA Web site, and the implementation of service by appointment. Through a recent cost savings exercise undertaken by the Taxpayer Services and Debt Management Branch, a proposal to reduce the caller accessibility target for the Taxpayer Services Directorate’s (TSD) Call Centres from 90% to 85% was presented and approved by the Agency Management Committee.

Moving forward with this proposal, we would like to announce that effective April 1, 2012, TSD call centres will be expected to implement and report on a reduced caller accessibility target of 85%.

The implementation date has been timed to coincide with the end of the fiscal year to minimize the impact on the call centre workforce. We do not anticipate any disruption to the current services provided for the 2012 filing season. Taxpayer Services will continue to manage its operations as usual.

No further action is required by the Committee at this time. 

18.   Jeopardy Assessments 

Information regarding the SP-05 Collection Officer responsibilities as it pertains to Jeopardy Assessments was issued to the field in September 2011.This information was shared with Executive council as well as the locals. The communiqué was issued to clarify the workload.

The following communiqué was issued by the CRA:

The purpose of this communiqué is to clarify the duties of the SP-05 Collections Officer as it relates to Jeopardy Assessments.

Jeopardy actions are carried out at the SP-07 level however, collections officers at the SP05 level should be able to identify possible jeopardy situations while conducting a Danger of Loss review. The account is a Danger of Loss within the meaning assigned by subsection 225.2(2) of the ITA and subsection 322.1(5) of the ETA.

If, during a danger of loss review, a possible Jeopardy is identified the file should be dac’d up to the SP-07 ROCCO level to review for Jeopardy action. 

The collections manuals and the training materials will be modified in the near future to reflect this clarification.

You may send any further questions regarding this communication to the Field Support mailbox

No further action is required by the Committee at this time. 

19. Draft Guidelines for Educational Assistance

Further to the comments outlined in the June 2011 Minutes (Item 7) the employer sent the following additional update to clarify the intent:

Thank you for your feedback on the educational assistance (EA) guidelines. Your concerns were considered and were relayed to the Agency Management Committee (AMC) at its February 8, 2012 meeting.

The suggestion to make the guidelines more stringent was taken into consideration, while at the same time noting that of all CRA policy instruments, guidelines are, by definition, not mandatory. The EA guidelines are intended to help managers make their decisions when reviewing their employees’ requests for educational assistance while at the same time allowing them to use their discretion and make decisions in line with their business priorities and budgets.

Managers are accountable under the Financial Administration Act when they authorize a payment of public funds in support of education reimbursement. In determining the amount to be reimbursed, they must balance the needs of the employee with business objectives and budget constraints. It is expected that the rationale for the percentage authorized would be discussed with the employee and would reflect the priorities of the local organization.

The EA guidelines and the percentage of tuition fees to be reimbursed are intended to support employee development in all CRA occupational areas, with the first priority being education related to the business line in which the employee is working. As an example, an SP who is working in an audit capacity could receive up to 100% reimbursement, subject to managerial concurrence, if he or she was undertaking courses towards a degree in accounting. 

The EA guidelines will be soon posted on InfoZone, under the HR policy instruments section. They are to be read in conjunction with the EA directive and procedures and will take effect on April 1st 2012.

Members are encouraged to direct any specific queries on this to their manager.

No further action is required by the Committee at this time.  Members are encouraged, however, to raise any specific problem with their Local Union representatives.

20.  CRA Directive on Recourse (Annex L)

The Chairperson and the Technical Advisor attended a meeting on August 12th, 2011.  Discussions included confirmation of whether previous recourse issues from the Union were still a concern (i.e. the UTE comments to the Auditor General) and to solicit new comments for consideration in the revisions to Annex L. As a result of the Union`s concerns, the employer also committed to the creation of a working group that was expected to start their mandate in January 2012.

Despite assurances from the employer that they wished to proceed with a working group on Recourse and Annex L, we have yet to receive any new information.

It is the opinion of the committee that if the CRA is not going to start the work of the « Working Group », then we would like a meeting specifically to discuss UTE’s concerns.

21.   Education Equivalents

In February 2012, CRA issued a communication on the Educational equivalencies of the Accounting multiple-choice test as follows:

As you know, the Taxpayer Services and Debt Management Branch (TSDMB) has added the Accounting technical competency, level 1 and 2, to the job competency profiles for several debt management positions as a result of a major study and consultation process. Since then, questions have been raised on a number of occasions as to whether a candidate who has accounting courses could be exempted from taking the standardized Accounting multiple-choice tests, level 1 and 2.

Since TSDMB did not have the accounting expertise to do this kind of analysis, the Human Resources Branch solicited assistance from the Ontario Region. An auditor, who has his CA, reviewed the standardized Accounting tests for level 1and level 2 and compared the knowledge assessed on these two tests to the various introductory and intermediate accounting courses offered by different educational institutions. His findings revealed that the successful completion of Financial Accounting Fundamentals (FA1) is sufficient to gain the knowledge required for passing the Accounting multiple-choice tests, level 1 and 2. The Compliance Program Branch has validated the analysis and also agrees with the results.

No further action is required by the Committee at this time

22. AU Education Standard

On December 6th, 2011, UTE was invited to attend a meeting with the CRA on possible modifications to the AU Education Standard. The UTE was very receptive to the recommendations that CRA was putting forward.  In fact, the UTE believes that the proposed modifications would indeed correct a recent problem in the field whereby many members are in possession of a college degree vs. a university degree.  The Committee understood that this change would be implemented shortly after the meeting.

Recently, the union was advised the employer had changed their position as a result of discussions with the other bargaining agent.  UTE is of the opinion that applied business degrees from colleges meet the test of the AU Education standard.

The Committee will submit this item to the UTE National President in order to be raised with the Commissioner.

23.   Job Competency Profiles (JCP).

The Committee received and reviewed forty four (44) job competency profiles for review since the last meeting

24.   Competency Directive

The Committee reported in our June 2011 Minutes that we had been requested to provide comments on the revised Competency Directive.  CRA provided the following response:

Management would like to thank you for providing feedback on the Competency Directive. Your suggestions and comments relating to the French version were very helpful in ensuring that the English and French versions of the Competency Directive correspond to one another. The typos, grammar and incorrect translation that you identified in the French version have been corrected.

In the English content, you mentioned the following:

In the first section:  Competencies will be added, deleted or modified as required.  BY WHOM SHOULD BE STATED

The following statement under the Roles and Responsibilities for Employment Programs Directorate indicate:

  • Supporting an efficient consultation process for implementing competencies and developing and maintaining JCPs
  • Developing, publishing, and revising the Competency Catalogue

As a result, Management does not feel that the information needs to be duplicated.

Once the Competency Directive is approved, a final copy will be provided to the Unions.

Once the final version is received, a notice will be issued to all Locals.

25.   Competency Catalogue

The Committee was provided with a draft version of the Competency Catalogue for their review and comments. A response was sent to the employer in July of 2011.

The Committee will advise the Locals when the revised version is issued.

26. Staffing Policy Simplification Project

Consultations on the draft Staffing Policy, the Staffing Directive and the Staffing Guidelines were conducted in October and November 2011.

Unfortunately, the UTE has received no information from the CRA since we provided our submission to them on November 25th, 2011.  It is unknown what the status of this initiative is at this point in time, although the Committee will be contacting the employer to request an update.

The Committee will also attempt to establish the current timelines for the creation of the Working Group for Recourse that the CRA indicated they were establishing. The CRA had advised the Union that they expected the Working Group to start their mandate in January 2012.  As of this date, the group has yet to meet.

27.   Online Standardized Testing Pilot

The employer advised that they were initiating a pilot project in regards to standardized testing.

The following information was presented by the CRA:

As a pilot project from August 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012, National Test Services (NTS) of the Employment Programs Directorate will coordinate the delivery of CRA’s Writing Skills Test – English/French (WST – E/F) to CRA candidates through an electronic medium. The online pilot will involve loading CRA’s WST-E/F on the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) OnLine Testing Facility (OLTF). Candidates within the pilot areas will have the option to be assessed in electronic or hardcopy format. The test remains the same for each version and will always remain available in a multiple formats through the formal accommodation system.

CRA Resourcing Advisors and Test Administrators currently use the PSC’s Second Language Exam (SLE) through the OLTF; the use of the online version of the SLE has increased significantly these past 2 years.

The main objectives of this pilot are to review the implications of online testing on the CRA’s resourcing program, identifying standardized testing online operational requirements, and investigating the ease of use and costs of the Public Service Commission’s OnLine Testing Facility (OLTF). The findings of the pilot will be used in conjunction with a study of alternatives being undertaken with the Information Technology Branch to recommend an option for implementing online testing within CRA.

Online testing is a flexible and ‘greener’ option that will provide more convenient test taking options, quicker results and better protection of personnel information. As an example, the CRA limited online testing trial in February 2010 lowered the standardized testing period by several days and provided candidates with results more quickly than normal. This trial received a 96% approval rating from the candidates and a high degree of praise from the resourcing advisors.

CRA’s online testing process for this pilot will involve candidates writing the CRA WST-E/F using the PSC software application on CRA computers. The online WST will only be available to CRA candidates as per regular resourcing policy. Candidate information will be downloaded daily to NTS for upload onto the Corporate Administrative System (CAS). CRA resourcing advisors will remain fully involved in the process.

During this pilot, additional testing to verify the CRA WST online version validity and reliability will be conducted.  We are planning to invite a group of CRA employees who have already written the WST to write it again, online, to see if their scores are similar to their paper and pencil scores; employees will retain their highest results and will not penalized if they score lower on the online test.

The Union will contact the employer to get an update on the pilot, including where it was implemented and the results of said project, as well as the current status of the project.

28.   Management Group Learning Program ( MGLP)

Following consultation with the Union on the MGLP program the following response was received from the CRA:

There was general agreement during our consultations (that also included the regions and our delivery partners) on the instructional model being proposed.  There were some suggestions on specific content that we will review.  There were also suggestions related to the delivery location of the program.  In preparation for moving forward to HRC in the fall, we have developed two additional delivery options for the MGLP program:

  • Option 1: Centralized delivery (one location – the original proposed delivery model)
  • Option 2: East/West delivery (two locations, Ottawa and Vancouver)
  • Option 3: Hybrid Regional/Centralized - regional delivery (6 locations) for the 1st week of classroom training and centralized delivery (Ottawa) for the 2nd week of classroom training.

29. Assessment and Benefits Corporate Suspense Workload :

The CRA provided the following communiqué to the Union in the fall of 2011:

The future direction of the Corporate Suspense Program includes the centralization of the workload in the Ottawa Technology Centre (OTC) with an alternate site for disaster recovery purposes. The centralization of the corporate suspense workload at the OTC is now well underway and we are progressing towards the next phase of the project which involves establishing the disaster recovery site.

A system change will be implemented in October 2011 to accommodate these changes. This system change will result in corporate suspense cases being automatically directed to the OTC and Shawinigan TC. During the fiscal year 2011/12, all TCs were fully funded for the Corporate Suspense Program. This funding will enable you to complete all outstanding inventory before reassigning your staff to other duties.

The corporate suspense workload is small and is scattered across the country where 7 Tax Centres (TCs) handle approximately 6% of the workload.  This has led to significant inefficiencies and a lack of expertise.  Accordingly, in consultation with management in the field over the past year, it was decided to consolidate most of the workload in the Ottawa Technology Centre which is responsible for 94% of the workload.  The Shawinigan TC was recently chosen as the disaster recovery centre and will also be responsible for a small corporate suspense workload that is currently being handled by the Summerside TC.  Implementation of the initiative will occur at the end of October 2011 and will not have negative consequences on field resources.

CRA has further advised that:

The Business Returns Directorate and the Business Accounting Division are progressing with initiatives that will involve providing the field with more value added workloads that will ensure that there is no negative impact on field resources resulting from changes related to the corporate suspense consolidation.  The Union will be kept informed of the progress of these initiatives as they continue to develop.

This item will be removed from the agenda, unless additional information is received from the employer.

30.   CBHRM Advisory Committee

In January 2012, we have received from the CRA the following message:

The Human Resources Branch met with the Competency-Based Human Resources Management (CBHRM) Advisory Committee last fall. At this meeting, it was determined that the Committee had completed its mandate to integrate CBHRM into daily people management activities.

As a result, the Committee has disbanded.

Consequently, this item will be removed from our agenda.

31.   Depth and Breadth

Several issues were raised at the March 2011 Presidents’ Conference but no specific item was referred to the Committee.  The Committee did have a brief discussion on this issue and would like to remind each local that CRA Staffing Bulletin 2005-05 clearly explains the application of depth and breadth.

Each local should ensure that a copy of this bulletin is always on hand and that any queries should be referred to their local management.

There are no further actions required by this committee.

32.   Observe and Attest

As a result of several queries raised at the March 2011 Presidents’ Conference, Sister Cassidy requested a meeting with the CRA.

As of this report, the employer has not yet confirmed a date.

Subjects: