Archived - Audit of Leave

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

January 2014

1.0 Introduction

The Canada Border Services Agency (the CBSA or the Agency) operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7) to ensure the security of Canada by managing the safe access of people and goods to and from the country. This operational requirement creates complex resourcing and scheduling demands for the management of Canadian borders.

The Agency operates within a decentralized model with a National Headquarters (NHQ) and seven regions. The CBSA workforce, comprised of 32 occupational groups from 16 collective agreements, consists of approximately 15,000 employeesFootnote 1 at 1,200 locations across Canada and 39 international locations. Approximately 80% of the workforce is distributed among the seven regions. 

Leave is defined as an authorized absence from duty. The management of leave at the CBSA is governed by the collective agreements as well as the Treasury Board Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements, Directive on Executive Compensation, Policy on the Management of Executives, Policy on Terms and Conditions of Employment, and Disability Management in the Federal Public Service.

The overall management of leave is shared among many stakeholders. Employees must accurately report all leave used to their managers. Each manager is responsible for administering, approving and monitoring the leave used by their employees to ensure that it is compliant with the relevant authorities. The Human Resources Branch (HRB) oversees the administration and interpretation of the collective agreements, maintains the Human Resources component of the Corporate Administrative System (CAS) and manages the processing of leave transactions at Headquarters. In the regions, the Corporate and Program Services Divisions within the Operations Branch processes timesheets and leave. The Comptrollership Branch processes all payments related to leave.

For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, the Agency had salaries and benefits expenditures of $1.1 billion, which represented 73% of the Agency’s operating expenditures. Paid leaveFootnote 2 used during the fiscal year totalled approximately 4.1 million hours.

The CAS is the Agency’s official system for managing leave entitlements, balances and transactions. In 2012, the Agency implemented the Self-Service Portal which interfaces directly with CAS and has the following leave functions:

  • The Employee Self-Service (ESS) Portal enables all employees to view their current leave balances and report time and activity information electronically.
  • The Manager Self-Service (MSS) Portal enables managers to review the leave balances of their employees and approve the time and activity information reported by their employees.

CBSA employees submit timesheets either electronically or on paper if they do not have the electronic timesheets. At Headquarters, most employees must use the ESS to prepare electronic timesheets which are automatically sent for review to their delegated manager based on the organizational structure and loaded into the CAS once approved. In the regions, due to accessibility of the portal and the complexity of Variable Shift Scheduling Arrangements (VSSA)Footnote 3, the ESS and MSS can only be used to view leave balances. All regional employees must submit paper timesheets, which once reviewed and approved by management, are manually keyed into the CAS by an employee with specific system access granted by the HRB. The Agency is currently working towards implementing electronic reporting for all shift employees in 2014-2015.

In addition to paper and electronic timesheets, there are two other variations of the leave reporting process:

  • Positive reporting is done by employees who perform more than one activity, record time to specific projects or work on Variable Shift Scheduling Arrangements. These employees, who represent approximately 60% of the workforce, should submit a timesheet to management to report all attendance, leave, overtime and extra duty information.
  • Negative reporting employees perform one basic activity that remains unchanged from week to week. Negative reporting employees should only prepare a timesheet if they used leave or worked overtime or extra duty hours.

While paper and electronic leave reporting varies geographically, positive and negative leave reporting is distributed more evenly across the Agency.

2.0 Significance of the Audit

Persons appointed to the core public administration are entitled to leave benefits in accordance with their relevant collective agreements or terms and conditions of employment. The Agency must ensure that employee absences from work are administered and managed in an accurate, equitable, transparent and timely manner.Footnote 4 The operational risks to the Agency associated with the mismanagement of leave are the requirement to pay any resulting costs from its existing budget and negative publicity.

This audit is of interest to management due to the high number of leave transactions and the decentralized nature of the management of leave across the Agency.

The objective of the Audit of Leave was to determine whether the processes, practices and controls in place are adequate to support the management of leave including the integrity of leave data.

3.0 Statement of Conformance

The audit conforms to the Internal Auditing Standards for 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 Internal Auditing Standards for the Government of Canada, as required by the Treasury Board Policy on Internal Audit.

4.0 Audit Opinion

The Agency has practices and procedures in place to support the management of leave; however, there are gaps in the design and effectiveness of its internal control framework. Opportunities exist to improve the accuracy and timeliness of leave administration as well as enhance monitoring and reporting practices to ensure that corrective measures are implemented in a timely manner.

This results in a medium-high risk exposure for the Agency.

5.0 Key Findings

The Agency has established a delegation of authority instrument for leave at the executive and non-executive levels. Delegated managers have the primary responsibility for the routine administration and management of leave. However, it was not evident who within the Human Resources Branch was responsible for overseeing the management of leave on behalf of the Agency.

Opportunities exist to enhance existing procedures and guidance provided to delegated management to ensure that leave is managed consistently across the Agency, entered accurately into the Corporate Administrative System, and approved in a timely manner.

While most sites performed monitoring and reporting at the transactional level, the Agency-wide monitoring was limited in scope. More effective oversight for the management of leave may be achieved through risk-based monitoring and reporting practices at various levels of cost centre management.

Overall, leave transactions were pre-authorized and approved in accordance with the Agency’s delegated authority instrument. However, the audit found that eight (8) out of 72 transactions were not recorded in the CAS. Limited guidance was provided by the Human Resources Branch concerning the level of documentation that managers should retain to support leave transactions. The audit could not sample and conclude on the compliance of leave from sites that submit electronic timesheets.

The Human Resources Branch has implemented cash-out procedures to manage leave that exceeds maximum carry forward amounts identified in the relevant authorities. It is important that the Human Resources Branch clarify the process and accountabilities pursuant to section 34 of the Financial Administration Act for mandatory cash-outs. Opportunities exist to proactively identify employees who may accrue leave balances that exceed carry-over amounts, minimizing the potential year-end cash-out.

6.0 Summary of Recommendations

The audit makes five recommendations:

  • Identify which senior human resources official is responsible for overseeing the management of leave on behalf of the Agency.
  • Enhance existing procedures and guidance provided to delegated management to ensure that leave is managed consistently across the Agency, entered accurately into the Corporate Administrative System, and approved in a timely manner.
  • Implement a risk-based monitoring framework for the management of leave to identify and action issues in a timely manner;
  • Establish and perform ongoing monitoring of leave balances that exceed carry-over amounts to reduce year-end cash-outs; and
  • Clarify the process and accountabilities pursuant to section 34 of the Financial Administration Act for mandatory cash-outs.

7.0 Management Response

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) is in agreement with the Audit of Leave Report and accepts the recommendations. The audit report highlights opportunities for improvements in both Labour Relations program governance and the management of leave.

The HRB recently undertook programmatic assessments in various areas with a view to implementing changes to program governance. In this context, the HRB welcomes the findings, as they closely align with ongoing initiatives to strengthen the management of Labour Relations and Compensation in the Agency.

As outlined in several corporate documents, the management of leave falls within the Labour Relations programs. As such, functional leadership falls within the purview of the Vice President, Human Resources Branch, and more specifically, of the Director General, Labour Relations and Compensation Directorate and the Executive Director, Executive Group Services, Leadership and Talent Management. This leadership model is consistent with other departments and agencies in the core public administration.

Program Governance / Control Framework

Since the creation of the CBSA, a traditional public service business model has been relied on for the management of pay and benefits. Existing controls largely rest with the IT solutions in place. As with most other organizations, when used in conjunction with targeted monitoring, this approach provides sufficient control. As part of the core public administration, the policy framework for the Human Resources and Finance disciplines is dictated by the Treasury Board.

Management of Leave

The management of leave is a shared accountability between the various functional partners and line managers.

A close reading of the report clearly highlights the issue of data integrity as it relates to the reporting of leave (whether or not all leave transactions are properly recorded) and the ability of the Corporate Administrative System (CAS) to support this exercise. Although this additional review is outside the scope of the current audit, HRB will convene all stakeholders to examine the issues and explore the most appropriate course of action.

The CBSA context is different from most public organizations: it is a geographically dispersed, armed law enforcement organization operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Two thirds of the operating budget is dedicated to salaries with a requirement to replace the vast majority of front line staff absences. It is therefore imperative that leave be managed diligently to minimize replacement costs.

The HRB will review leave management as set out in the management action plan and communicate accordingly with employees and managers. The Corporate Management Committee will serve as the governance mechanism for this exercise.

8.0 Audit Findings

8.1 Control Framework

Audit Criteria:

  • The Agency’s control framework is designed effectively.
  • Leave is compliant with relevant authorities.
  • Managers monitor leave on a regular basis. Leave discrepancies are regularly reviewed and actioned by management.
  • Agency-wide monitoring processes are in place to detect and communicate excessive use, issues and risks, and subsequent reporting to management is conducted in a timely manner.

An effective control framework for the management of leave should include clearly defined roles, responsibilities, authorities and control activities. In addition, procedures, tools and guidance should be in place to support those with delegated authorities to appropriately perform their duties. It is also expected that adequate processes exist to monitor and report on leave.

8.1.1 Roles and Responsibilities

The Treasury Board Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements defines the roles and responsibilities for the management of leave.

  • Managers and supervisors with the delegated authority to approve leave have the primary responsibility for its administration and management. They are responsible for first considering operational factors and ensuring that leave requests are approved in accordance with applicable authorities, relevant collective agreements and terms and conditions of employment.
  • Senior human resources officials within the Human Resources Branch are responsible for:
    • Ensuring that the organizational structure, resources, procedures, systems and controls are in place for the secure, accurate and timely application and administration of all types of leave;
    • Establishing and reviewing on an ongoing basis, processes, procedures and controls to ensure that the management of leave is administered in accordance with the appropriate authorities; and
    • Implementing corrective measures in a timely manner. 

Delegated managers have the primary responsibility for the routine administration and management of leave. However, it was not evident who within the Human Resources Branch was responsible for overseeing the management of leave on behalf of the Agency.

8.1.2 Policies, Procedures and Guidance

The audit assessed the extent to which policies, procedures and guidance are accessible and adequate to support the management of leave.

Agency-level Leave Management Support

At the Agency-level, the CBSA’s Atlas Intranet provided access to various policies, authorities and tools:

  • The Manager’s Suite contained a section on leave that refers readers to all the relevant Treasury Board policies and instruments and collective agreements which identify leave entitlements for each group and classification.
  • The Delegated authority for operational matters, labour relations and compensation page identified the delegated authorities for the administration and approval of leave for executive and non-executive levels.
  • The Self-Service Tools and Resources page provided a detailed manual for the Employee Self-Service (ESS) and Manager Self-Service (MSS) systems.

Additional support was communicated by the Human Resources Branch through ESS/MSS training and on an ad-hoc basis by email. However, once sent, past emails were not easily accessible.

Opportunities exist for the Agency to enhance the leave management section of its Atlas Intranet to improve the availability of guidance.

Guidance for Delegated Management

Although managers can seek leave management guidance from human resources advisors, the audit found that limited Agency-wide guidance had been communicated to delegated managers to support the consistent administration of all types of leave in accordance with relevant authorities. Examples include developing information requirements for managers to retain for the reconciliation of employee leave recorded in the ESS/CAS, and providing clarification for the acceptable usage of medical and dental appointment leave. While limited formal guidance was found for the frequency at which timesheets should be prepared, reviewed, approved, and entered into the CAS, management at the visited sites indicated that they request timesheets to be submitted on a weekly basis.

Agency-wide formalization and communication of guidance for the preparation, review and approval, and data entry of timesheets could be provided for the management of all types of leave.

Local Leave Management Practices

Local management at ports of entry and offices visited had developed various procedures and uses available systems to manage leave information. These include paper-based templates, agendas, Outlook calendars, Excel spreadsheets, Computerized Officer Scheduling System (COSS)Footnote 5 reports and the CAS. Management communicated instructions to their staff verbally, by email, in writing and on the Port of Entry Management SystemFootnote 6 (POEMS) screens at some operational sites.

Local practices have evolved based on operational needs, variations in the paper/electronic and positive/negative leave reporting at each site as well as the level of rigour applied by cost centre managers. As a result, the practices and the extent to which information to support leave transactions was prepared and retained on file also varied among cost centres.

Semi-Automated Procedures

The ESS automatically directs timesheets to each employee’s manager for approval according to the organizational structure. However, unlike other leave management systems, the MSS does not send notifications to managers that leave requests are awaiting approval. Managers must frequently log into the system to review and approve transactions.

The CAS and ESS are configured to manage each employee’s leave balances and entitlements in accordance with the appropriate collective agreements and authorities. Specifically, the system provides an error message when an employee requests leave to which they are not entitled or for which they have an insufficient balance and prevents the entry. Data analysis confirmed that these controls are generally in place and functioning as intended when leave is entered into the systems.

While some functionality can be automated, manual processing is required to verify that the information entered into the system is accurate, complete and approved in a timely manner. 

  • For positive leave reporting employees, the CAS and ESS can identify all days for which timesheets have not been submitted. However, delegated managers must confirm whether or not the missing time should be reported as either attendance or leave.
  • The accuracy of leave balances in the CAS is also affected by processing delays due to the time required by:
    • Employees to prepare and submit timesheets to management;
    • Management to review and approve timesheets. For example, in the fourth quarter of 2012-2013, the Human Resources Branch identified that more than 100,000 ESS timesheet entries were awaiting management approval in MSS;
    • Designated employees to enter paper timesheets into the CAS; and
    • HRB to correct any issues that have been identified.

During the time required to process transactions, there is a risk that employees may forget to report leave or use more leave than their remaining balance in the CAS. To manage this risk, some managers have developed and maintain their own systems parallel to the CAS and ESS to ensure that leave reported by their employees is accurate, complete and compliant with relevant authorities. Opportunities exist for the Human Resources Branch to develop and implement standards for the timely preparation, submission, review, approval and data entry of timesheets.  

8.1.3 Monitoring and Reporting

A monitoring and reporting framework for leave should include the continuous assessment of results and corrective measures to ensure that leave is managed effectively. The Agency’s monitoring responsibilities should include establishing and reviewing on an ongoing basis processes, procedures and controls to ensure that leave is administered in accordance with the appropriate authorities, is timely and accurate, and that corrective measures are implemented in a timely manner.Footnote 7

Agency and Branch Level Monitoring

Reports such as the quarterly Internal Services Volumetric Analysis and the monthly Operations Branch Human Resources Report include summaries of leave with income averaging, sick leave without pay and paid sick leave. Although the reports identify top ten users as well as regions that used more sick leave than the core public administration average,Footnote 8 there is limited evidence of follow-up activities to determine the causes and implement corrective action if required.

Site Level Monitoring

At the sites included in the audit scope, most managers maintain reports of daily absences which are reconciled with timesheets when submitted. Some managers also track missing timesheets on a weekly basis. The extent and formality of monitoring, reporting and follow-up activities varies among sites.

The audit identified a detailed monitoring practice in the Southern Ontario Region. In 2012, the Region conducted a comprehensive review of sick leave, negative sick leave, medical/dental appointments leave and overtime usage patterns. The analysis enabled management to identify attendance issues and manage recurring leave patterns. It also created awareness within the region that management is monitoring leave.  

Additional Examples of Monitoring:

The audit included the following analyses to identify examples that the Human Resources Branch could perform to enhance its current monitoring practices:

  • Monitoring of medical and dental appointment leave: the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance on medical/dental appointment leave indicates that the leave is normally limited to preventive appointments such as annual physicals, dental check-ups and eye exams. Collective agreements also specify routine medical appointments for pregnant employees. Although the average employee may report approximately 15 hours per year, in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, 260 and 226 employees respectively reported more than 37.5 hours of medical / dental appointment leave. However, this type of leave is not routinely monitored.
    • Monitoring negative balances:
      • An analysis of negative compensatory leaveFootnote 9 identified that, in the time required to approve leave requests and cash-outs in the CAS, one compensatory balance can be both used as leave and paid out as cash. Currently, the CAS does not have controls to prevent this specific risk.
      • An analysis of negative sick leave revealed that some employees had more than one sick leave bank. Management indicated that this was caused by leave banks that were not properly closed in the CAS when employees left the Agency or became inactive. A second bank may be created when their profile was reactivated in the system upon their return and affect the integrity of leave reports.
    • Verifying the integrity of certified sick leave transactions: of the 18 certified sick leave transactions reviewed, 15 were supported by a valid medical certificate. During the audit, the Human Resources Branch communicated a reminder to managers that the use of certified sick leave be supported by valid medical certificates.

The current monitoring and reporting practices across the Agency were limited in scope. To provide more effective oversight for the management of leave, opportunities exist to develop risk-based monitoring practices at various levels of cost centre management. This would include follow-up activities to explain any identified anomalies and actions to correct discrepancies in a timely manner.

In conclusion, elements of a control framework were in place to support the management of leave. The Human Resources Branch could enhance the guidance and procedures provided to delegated management to ensure that leave is managed consistently across the Agency, recorded accurately in the CAS and approved in a timely manner.

Recommendation 1:

The Vice-President of Human Resources should identify which senior human resources official is responsible for overseeing the management of leave on behalf of the Agency.

Management Response

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) accepts the recommendation. As outlined in various corporate documents, including job descriptions, the HRB will reconfirm that the responsibility to provide functional guidance and oversight of the management of leave rests with the Director General, Labour Relations and Compensation Directorate (LRCD) and the Executive Director, Executive Group Services and Talent Management. The HRB will articulate the roles and responsibilities for leave management from program, financial, HR systems, and time reporting perspectives.

Completion Date: March 2014

Recommendation 2:

The Vice-President of Human Resources should enhance existing procedures and guidance provided to delegated management to ensure that leave is managed consistently across the Agency, entered accurately into the Corporate Administrative System, and approved in a timely manner.

Management Response

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) accepts the recommendation. The HRB will conduct a review of the existing control framework, identify opportunities to enhance functional direction, and establish a multi-media strategy leveraging technology from which to provide this direction.

Completion Date: September 2014

Recommendation 3:

The Vice-President of the Human Resources Branch should implement a risk-based monitoring framework to identify and action leave issues in a timely manner.

Management Response

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) accepts the recommendation. The HRB will implement a two pronged risk-based monitoring framework to identify and address leave management issues. The framework will include regional and national monitoring activities.

Completion Date: June 2014

8.2 Compliance of Leave Transactions

Audit Criteria:

  • Planned leave transactions are pre-authorized.
  • Leave transactions are approved by management.
  • Leave transactions are recorded in the system.

Testing of leave transactions was conducted to determine the extent to which the use of selected paid leave entitlements were pre-authorized as required, approved by delegated management and accurately recorded in the CAS. A purposefulFootnote 10 sample of 72 leave transactions was selected that covered employees from five regions and Headquarters and included 33 plannedFootnote 11 and 39 unplannedFootnote 12 leave transactions. Transactions were selected from operational and administrative records of attendance and traced to their entry in the CAS.

Limited guidance was provided by the Human Resources Branch concerning the level of documentation that managers should retain to support leave transactions. While regional and positive reporting sites maintained more complete records, management at sites that submitted electronic timesheets deleted leave requests once the transactions were approved in the system. As a result, the audit could not sample and conclude on the compliance of leave from sites that submit electronic timesheets. Transactions from sites that submit electronic timesheets are not included in the sample identified above. 

8.2.1 Pre-Authorization

Persons with the delegated authority to approve leave are responsible for considering operational factors.Footnote 13 The pre-authorization of planned leave facilitates management’s ability to plan and maintain operational effectiveness during discretionary employee absences. It also reduces the risk of employees forgetting to submit leave applications after it has been taken, and the possibility of unrecorded leave.

In all 33 planned leave transactions that were tested, there was evidence to support that leave was approved on or before the date of the absences.

8.2.2 Approvals

“All absences from work must be authorized by the person with the delegated authority to approve the specific absence.”Footnote 14
In 69 out 72 transactions, leave was approved by the appropriate delegated manager. In the other three transactions the timesheet obtained from the employee’s file was not signed. Nevertheless, the leave transactions from the three unsigned timesheets were entered into the CAS which indicates either a lack of design, communication or understanding of appropriate control procedures.

8.2.3 Recording of Leave in the CAS

“All absences from work must be administered and managed in an accurate, equitable, transparent and timely manner.”Footnote 15

The audit found that at the time of testing, eight (8) out of 72 leave transactions that were recorded on operational and administrative records of attendance from the preceding three to five months had not been recorded in the CAS. Specifically:

  • In one case, leave was managed between the employee and manager outside of the CAS;
  • In one case, an employee’s sick leave transaction was not recorded in the CAS. Testing of this transaction identified that the employee had numerous other sick leave transactions from a range of dates that were not recorded in the CAS, while overtime transactions from the same period had been recorded; and
  • In six cases, the transactions were recorded on operational and administrative records of attendance, but not in the CAS.

Unless all leave is entered into the CAS, unrecorded paid leave transactions are difficult to monitor and result in overstated employee leave entitlements.

Overall, leave transactions in our sample were pre-authorized as required, and approved appropriately. However, eight (8) transactions were not recorded in the CAS. Limited information was available to test the pre-authorization and completeness of leave transactions at sites that use the ESS/MSS system.  

Management should ensure that improvements to the control framework in response to Recommendation #1 address these compliance issues.

8.3 Year-end Procedures

Audit Criteria:

  • Agency-wide year-end leave cash-out processes are in place.

Monitoring and reporting on the use and performance of financial resources supports the effective oversight of the Agency’s budget and related resource allocations as well as decision making based on sound analysis of reliable information.

8.3.1 Cash-out Processes

The maximum amount of leave that employees can carry forward from one year to the next is identified in the collective agreements and the Directive on Executive Compensation. These authorities state that employees should use their leave each year. The collective agreements also indicate that management can schedule the leave of an employee. It is expected that excess leave is managed to minimize possible cash-outs; however, due to operational factors, some employees may not be able to use their full leave entitlements each year. All excess must be cashed-out at the end of each fiscal year.

The Agency first implemented a mandatory cash-out process at the end of 2011-2012. In April, the Compensation Division identified all employees with leave balances that exceeded carry forward limits, prepared a report and sent it to each region and branch for validation. Excess leave was paid in the first few months of the following fiscal year.

The Directive on Account Verification requires that all payments and settlements are to be certified pursuant to section 34 of the Financial Administration Act (FAA) to confirm that the amount is accurate. Two interpretations of certification requirements for the payment of cash-outs were found within the Agency. At Headquarters, the Comptrollership and Human Resources branches described that the cash-out process did not require certification under section 34. The interpretation was that cash-outs are non-discretionary expenses whose payment authority comes from the collective agreements and Directive on Executive Compensation. Payments that were processed at Headquarters had not been certified. In some regions, some sites received direction from regional finance and certified cash-outs for each employee.

Managers were able to monitor the excess leave of their employees via the Manager Self-Service Portal. There was not an explicit expectation that excess leave be managed proactively. The Human Resources Branch indicated that it plans to inform managers of the leave balance liability three months before the end of the fiscal year. While this practice alerts managers of excess leave liability, it may not provide sufficient time to manage the use of leave.

Human Resources Branch implemented cash-out procedures to manage leave that exceeds maximum carry forward amounts identified in the relevant authorities. However, it is important that the process and accountabilities related to section 34 of the FAA for cash-outs be clarified. Opportunities also exist to identify, earlier in the year, employees who may accrue leave balances that exceed the carry-over amounts. This would allow management to work collaboratively with employees and schedule the excess leave during slow periods, minimizing the potential year-end cash-outs.

Recommendation 4:

The Vice-President of the Human Resources Branch should establish and perform ongoing monitoring of leave balances that exceed carry-over amounts to reduce year-end cash-outs.

Management Response

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) accepts the recommendation. The HRB will develop a communications strategy to instruct managers in reviewing their employees’ excess leave carry-over, and provide guidance on how to minimize carry-overs.

Completion Date: June 2014

Recommendation 5:

The Vice-President of the Human Resources Branch should clarify the process and accountabilities pursuant to section 34 of the Financial Administration Act for the approval of mandatory cash-outs.

Management Response

The Human Resources Branch (HRB) accepts the recommendation. Under the current compensation processes, the s.34 Financial Administration Act (FAA) sign-off is satisfied when the delegated managers sign the letter of offer to appoint an individual in CBSA. The remaining question to resolve is whether or not an additional approval process is required for the mandatory year-end cash-out of vacation leave. The HRB will consult with the Comptrollership Branch to ensure that the mandatory liquidation of vacation leave meets the requirements of the FAA.

Completion Date: March 2014

Appendix A – About the Audit

Audit Objectives and Scope

The objective of the Audit of Leave was to determine whether the processes, practices and controls in place are adequate to support the management of leave, including the integrity of leave data.

The Agency’s Audit Committee approved an audit of leave as part of the Risk-Based Audit Plan 2013‑14 to 2015-16.

The audit scope covered all leave management processes and practices in place for the management of exempt and non-exempt employees leave across the Agency for the period of April 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013.

RISK ASSESSMENT

The risk assessment conducted during the planning phase identified the following key risk areas:

Control Framework

There is a risk that:

  • Policies and procedures are not in place, clear, comprehensive, and communicated to provide consistent guidance for the management of leave across the Agency;
  • Internal leave practices and the application of policies are not in line with relevant authorities, Treasury Board regulations and collective agreements; and
  • Weaknesses in the design, implementation or operating effectiveness of the control framework could result in issues with leave transaction integrity, as identified below.

Leave Transactions

There is a risk that:

  • Leave transactions are not pre-authorized as required, accurately recorded, and approved;
  • The Agency’s CAS does not accurately reflect all leave used by employees; and
  • Leave is not in compliance with the applicable collective’s agreements, terms of conditions of employment and relevant Treasury Board policies.

Monitoring and Reporting

There is a risk that:

  • Leave reports and trend analyses are not regularly prepared and reviewed by management;
  • Leave entitlements are exceeded or abused; and
  • Monitoring processes are not in place to detect and communicate excessive use, issues and irregularities and subsequent reporting to management is not conducted.

APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The examination phase of this audit was performed using the following approach:

  • Selected a purposeful sample of 33 planned and 39 unplanned transactions from April 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013 and tested to determine the extent to which the use of selected paid leave entitlements were pre-authorized as required, approved by delegated management and accurately recorded in the CAS.
    The sample was selected from operational and administrative records such as Computerized Officer Scheduling System reports, shift reports, emails and attendance / absence logs. Each leave transaction was traced to its entry in the CAS.
    Selected leave types included annual, uncertified sick, medical / dental, family related, personal, and volunteer.
  • Selected a sample of 18 certified leave transactions from April 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013. At each site, five certified sick leave transactions were randomly identified in the CAS and vouched to determine whether each was supported by a valid medical certificate or approved workers compensation form.
    At sites where less than five certified sick leave transactions were identified, all certified sick transactions were tested.
  • Performed an analytical review of the leave data for the period of April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 to determine the extent to which leave transactions were compliant with relevant collective agreements and Treasury Board authorities.
  • Interviewed management and identified and reviewed Agency-wide and local practices used to provide guidance and support the management of leave; and
  • Visited two directorates at headquarters and five sites across three regions as well as performed distance testing of two additional sites for a total of nine responsibility centres. The visited sites were selected to identify a cross-section of leave transactions, paper/electronic timesheet and positive/negative reporting practices, as well as port of entry and office sites.

AUDIT CRITERIA
The audit criteria were derived from the Office of the Comptroller General’s Audit Criteria Related to the Management Accountability Framework: A Tool for Internal Auditors, the Assertions from the CICA Handbook and the CICA Criteria of Control Framework (CoCo).

Lines of Enquiry Audit Criteria
Control Framework

1.1. The Agency’s control framework is designed effectively to manage leave in compliance with relevant authorities.
1.2. Leave is compliant with relevant authorities.
1.3. Managers monitor leave on a regular basis. Leave discrepancies are regularly reviewed and actioned by management.
1.4. Agency-wide monitoring processes are in place to detect and communicate excessive use, issues and risks, and subsequent reporting to management is conducted in a timely manner.

Leave Transactions

2.1. Planned leave transactions are pre-authorized.
2.2. Leave transactions are approved by management.
2.3. Leave transactions are recorded in the system.

Year-end Procedures 3.1. Agency-wide year-end leave cash-out processes are in place.

Appendix B – List Of Acronyms

CBSA
Canada Border Services Agency
CAS
Corporate Administrative System
COSS
Computerized Officer Scheduling System
ESS
Employee Self-Service Portal
FAA
Financial Administration Act
HRB
Human Resources Branch
MSS
Manager Self-Service Portal

Footnotes

Footnote 1

2011-2012 Departmental Performance Report (DPR)

Return to footnote1 referrer

Footnote 2

Which includes the following leave paid entitlements in the scope of the audit: annual, sick, family related, volunteer, personal and medical/dental appointments.

Return to first footnote2 referrer

Footnote 3

A VSSA is a type of schedule worked by most border service officers at ports of entry. Unlike day-workers who typically work five 7.5-hour days Monday to Friday for a total of 37.5 hours per week, employees on VSSAs work 75 hours over a two-week period and have work days of varying length and non-standard days of rest.  

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements, section 5.2.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

The COSS is an operational system that provides superintendents with information on each employee’s scheduled shifts, registered leave and overtime. COSS is not used or used consistently at all POEs.

Return to footnote 5 referrer

Footnote 6

POEMS is a digital signage system used to post officers’ hourly schedules, intelligence alerts/bulletins, and administrative information for frontline officers and superintendents.

Return to footnote 6 referrer

Footnote 7

Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements, section 6.3.1.

Return to footnote 7 referrer

Footnote 8

The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer within the Treasury Board Secretariat collects, summarizes and reports on human resources information, including leave, across the Government. These reports are available to departments and agencies to incorporate into their own analyses.

Return to footnote 8 referrer

Footnote 9

Subject to management’s approval, when employees work overtime, they can request to be paid in cash or in equivalent time with pay. 

Return to footnote 9 referrer

Footnote 10

A purposeful sample is a non-representative subset of a population selected to serve a specific purpose.

Return to footnote 10 referrer

Footnote 11

Planned leave was defined as any paid leave that was expected and scheduled in advance and included annual, family related, volunteer, personal, medical and dental leave as well as sick leave that was scheduled in advance. 

Return to footnote 11 referrer

Footnote 12

Unplanned was defined as any paid leave that was unexpected, taken with minimal notice and included sick leave and family related leave.

Return to footnote 12 referrer

Footnote 13

Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements, section 6.2 and Appendix A, section 1.

Return to footnote 13 referrer

Footnote 14

Directive on Leave and Special Working Arrangements, Appendix A, section 1.

Return to footnote 14 referrer

Footnote 15

The variances were identified at the Agency level and were aggregated from all responsibility centres. The audit did not assess the rationale for the variances

Return to footnote 15 referrer

Date modified: