Disclosure of internal audits 2006-2007

Audit of the Availability of Bilingual Work Tools

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. 1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
  2. 2. BACKGROUND
  3. 3. OBJECTIVE AND CRITERIA
    1. 3.1 OBJECTIVE
    2. 3.2 AUDIT CRITERIA
  4. 4. METHODOLOGY
    1. 4.1 INTERVIEWS WITH MANAGEMENT AND PREPARATION OF A
    2. LISTING
    3. 4.2 EXAMINATION OF REGULARLY AND WIDELY USED WORK
    4. INSTRUMENTS
    5. 4.3 QUESTIONNAIRES TO EMPLOYEES
  5. 5.AUDIT RESULTS
    1. 5.1 MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES
    2. 5.2 REGULARLY AND WIDELY USED PAPER WORK
    3. INSTRUMENTS
    4. 5.3 REGULARLY AND WIDELY USED ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS
    5. 5.4 INFONET/INFOGATEWAY AND LIBRARY ACQUISITIONS
    6. 5.5 EMPLOYEES' RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
    7. 5.6 SATISFACTION WITH THE USE OF THE TWO OL
    8. 5.7 OTHER RELATED ISSUES
  6. 6. RECOMMENDATIONS

1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Audit of the Availability of Bilingual Work Tools was conducted as part of the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) Audit and Evaluation Plan. The services of Samson & Associates were retained to conduct the audit.

This compliance audit had for objective to determine the extent of the TSB compliance to the Treasury Board Policy on Language of Work as it pertains to regularly and widely used work instruments and electronic systems.

The audit was conducted in accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Internal Audit and the Standards of the Institute of Internal Auditors for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing were applied. The audit took place in February and March 2007.

The audit was completed through interviews with managers. In addition, two instruments were developed to gather information: a Listing of Regularly and Widely Used Work Instruments and Electronic Systems and their Availability in Both Official Languages, and a Questionnaire on the Availability of Work Instruments in Both Official Languages, which was completed by TSB employees.

This audit concludes that:

  • criteria for the proper identification of "regularly and widely used work instruments and electronic systems" should be developed and the current listing reviewed accordingly;
  • the TSB should consider making available in both official languages existing unilingual English working instruments:

    • Investigation Standards and Procedures for Pipeline Investigations;
    • Safety Communication Standards for Rail Investigations; and
    • Style Guide, a guide manual for writing reports.
  • the TSB should consider making available in both official languages existing unilingual English electronic systems (Railway Occurrence Data System (RODS) and Pipeline Occurrence Data System (PODS)); and
  • TSB employees should be formally informed of their rights with regard to the usage of regularly and widely used work instruments and electronic systems in both official languages and the availability of applications in bilingual format.

Other issues were also reported. They relate to e-mails addressed to all TSB employees in one language, internal briefings often conducted in English only, and the TSB's domain name as it relates to the portion of the e-mail address to the right of the "@" sign, which is in English or French only. The bilingual function of the domain name (@bst-tsb.gc.ca) is not functional.

2. BACKGROUND

The TSB is a small agency of the federal government created in 1990 with a mandate to advance safety in the marine, rail, pipeline and aviation modes of transportation by:

  • conducting independent investigations and, if necessary, public inquiries into transportation occurrences in order to make findings as to their causes and contributing factors;
  • reporting publicly on its investigations and public inquiries and on the related findings;
  • identifying safety deficiencies as evidenced by transportation occurrences; and
  • making recommendations designed to eliminate or reduce any such safety deficiencies.

The TSB operates independently from other government departments and agencies and reports to Parliament through the President of the Privy Council. The TSB has approximately 230 employees of which 125 work at the Head Office in Gatineau, Quebec, 25 work at the Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa, Ontario, and the remainder work in the 8 regional offices located across the country.

Organizational Structure

The TSB organizational structure includes the Chairperson, the Board, the Executive Director and various Directors General (DGs) and Directors. Reporting to the Executive Director is a level of senior management comprising of the DG, Investigation Operations; the DG, Corporate Services; and the Manager, Communications.

Investigation Operations is responsible for investigations performed by Air, Marine and Rail and Pipeline Branches as well as Engineering, Human Performance and Macro Analysis Services. Corporate Services is comprised of Finance and Administration, Human Resources, Information Management, Informatics, and Corporate Planning and Reporting. Communications with the public are ensured by the Communications Division.

Legal framework

The TSB is subject to the Treasury Board Policy on Language of Work and as such must provide its employees with work instruments and electronic systems in the official language of their choice.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms stipulates that: "English and French are the official languages of Canada and have equality of status and equal rights and privileges as to their use in all institutions of the Parliament and government of Canada". Federal institutions are responsible for ensuring that their work environment is conducive to the effective use of both official languages while accommodating the use of either official language by employees. Part V of the Official Languages Act (OLA), which deals specifically with language of work, defines this principle in greater detail and sets out the specific obligations of federal institutions in this area.

The OLA defines a certain number of regions designated as bilingual for language-of-work purposes, in addition to the National Capital Region. The regions include parts of northern and eastern Ontario, the Montreal region, parts of the Eastern Townships, the Gaspé and West Quebec, as well as New Brunswick.

Outside the regions designated bilingual for language-of-work purposes, federal institutions must ensure that both official languages receive comparable treatment in different unilingual regions in which one or the other is a minority situation. This means, for example, that if an institution makes work instruments in French available to its French-speaking employees working in a region where English predominates, it must do the same for its English-speaking employees working in a region where French predominates, i.e. provide them with work instruments in English.

3. OBJECTIVE AND CRITERIA

3.1 OBJECTIVE

This compliance audit had for objective to determine the TSB's extent of compliance to the Treasury Board Policy on Language of Work as it pertains to regularly and widely used work instruments and computer systems.

3.2 AUDIT CRITERIA

The compliance audit adopted the criteria listed below. These criteria were based on requirements stipulated in the following three Treasury Board documents:

  • policy on Language of Work (April 1, 2004);
  • directive on the Use of Official Languages on Web Sites (July 15, 2005); and
  • directive on the Use of Official Languages in Electronic Communications (July 15, 2005).

Criterion 1 - Regularly and Widely Used Work Instruments

Work instruments provided to employees are to be made available in both official languages at the same time and of comparable quality.

Work instruments include: manuals and handbooks of policies, procedures and directives; handbooks and documentation needed to deliver services to the public or to employees, and lexicons and official institutional publications that employees consult and other similar tools that they use in performing their duties (for example, policies, procedures, manuals, correspondence, task description, etc.). The TSB is responsible for deciding on a case-by-case basis whether work instruments meet the definition of "regularly and widely used". This obligation applies no matter what format is used to make the work instruments available to employees (paper, electronic, etc.).

Criterion 2 - Regularly and Widely Used Electronic Systems

Regularly and widely used electronic systems provided to employees are available in both official languages at the same time and are of comparable quality.

Electronic systems include software applications, such as an office automation suite (word processor, electronic document management, spreadsheet, e-mail, etc.). With regard to computer systems, those provided to employees as information sources or work tools must allow navigation and access to information in either official language (for ex. TIIMS); the information must also be available in the official language of the user's choice. As for work instruments, the institution is responsible for deciding on a case-by-case basis, whether computer systems meet the definition of "regularly and widely used".

Criterion 3 - 

Employees' Rights and Responsibilities with Regard to Work Instruments

Employees are informed of and know their official languages rights and obligations.

Criterion 4 - 

Satisfaction with the Use of the two Official Languages with Regard to Work Instruments

The employees of the institution are satisfied with the use of the two official languages within their work unit.

Criterion 5 - Identification of Work Instruments

The TSB management has identified on a case-by-case basis whether work instruments meet the definition of "regularly and widely used".

4. METHODOLOGY

For this audit we used the following methodology:

4.1 INTERVIEWS WITH MANAGEMENT AND PREPARATION OF A LISTING OF REGULARLY AND WIDELY USED WORK INSTRUMENTS

We conducted interviews with ten managers in order to determine their understanding of obligations to make available English and French versions of regularly and widely used work instruments. We also asked managers to complete a list of widely used work instruments and electronic systems. At the time of the audit, the TSB did not have a listing of regularly and widely used work instruments, nor criteria to help managers determine if certain work instruments should be considered as "regularly and widely used".

4.2 EXAMINATION OF REGULARLY AND WIDELY USED WORK INSTRUMENTS AND ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS

The Audit Team examined a sample of work instruments included in the listing provided to us by management, to determine whether they are available in both official language, and whether their quality, distribution and installation times are similar for the two languages. Examinations included paper work documents, electronic systems and information posted on the InfoNET/InfoGATEWAY.

The sample was based on a judgmental sampling methodology and professional judgment since total population of working documents could not be ascertained at the time of the audit and was completed while managers were contacted to complete the listing or were interviewed.

4.3 QUESTIONNAIRES TO EMPLOYEES

A sample number of TSB employees (60) across the department received the Questionnaire as presented in Table 1. The questionnaire yielded a response rate of 50% (30) which is noteworthy.

Questionnaire dealt mainly with the employees' satisfaction with the availability of regularly and widely used work instruments and electronic systems in both official languages. This approach was adopted to achieve efficiency and limit employee work interruption.

The selection of employees was also based on a judgmental sampling methodology and professional judgment with an expectation to obtain at least 30 completed questionnaires.

Table 1
Approximate Number of Employees at the TSB And Sampling Methodology
Regions: East Quebec NCR Toronto Center West
Vancouver
Total
Approximate Number of Employees 12 14 172 9 14 8 230
Selection 6 5 40 3 4 2 60
Expected Responses 3 3 30 1 2 1 40
Responses received 1 4 20 2 3 0 30

5.0 AUDIT RESULTS

The Audit Team's conclusions presented in this report are based on interviews with managers and information they provided to us during the audit to complete the Listing of Regularly and Widely Used Work Instruments and Electronic Systems and their Availability in Both Official Languages. Conclusions are also based on an independent examination of different working tools completed at the time information was gathered. TSB employees' responses to the Questionnaire on the Availability of Work Instruments in Both Official Languages were used to corroborate the information provided by managers.

5.1 MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBILITIES

The TSB is internationally recognized through its investigation reports and publications. The production of these documents is supported by work instruments and systems. It is the TSB's responsibility to identify "regularly and widely used" work instruments as stated in the Treasury Board Policy on Language of Work, April 1, 2004:

"The institution is responsible for deciding on a case-by-case basis whether work instruments meet the definition of "regularly and widely used." This obligation applies no matter what format is used to make the work instruments available to employees (paper, electronic, etc.)".

Although a preliminary listing was completed during this audit, we noted that TSB criteria defining "regularly and widely used" work instruments were lacking. Consequently, some confusion existed as to which category certain work instruments fell under, that is to say either "specialized" or "general". For example the Air Branch investigation manual, Volume 2, Part 4, was noted as "general" while the Railway/Pipeline Branch investigation manual, Volume II, Part II, was noted as "specialized". As both manuals have similar investigation functions, the same category, the "general" category, should have been applied.

Criteria defining "regularly and widely used" work instruments would assist managers in identifying which instruments need to be provided in both official languages. Such criteria would also eliminate ambiguity in defining "generally and widely used" work instruments within the TSB, allow for a more effective work environment and ensure compliance to the Treasury Board Policy on Language of Work.

5.2 REGULARLY AND WIDELY USED PAPER WORK INSTRUMENTS

The Treasury Board Policy on Language of Work specifies institution obligations with regard to regularly and widely used paper and electronic work instruments acquired or produced on their behalf. Institutions have the obligation to create and maintain a work environment conducive to the effective use of both official languages, enable its staff to use either language and implement measures so that employees use their preferred official language with regard to work instruments. With the exceptions of few documents mentioned below, the TSB complies with the Treasury Board policies

As mentioned above, a Listing of Work Instruments and Electronic Systems was prepared in conjunction with TSB managers. The Listing enumerates current Work Instruments in use at the TSB. The Audit Team noted some work instruments which are partially bilingual or where their translation is currently in process. The documents we noted in English only are:

  • Investigation Standards and Procedures for Pipeline Investigations (MOI Volume II, Part II);
  • Safety Communication Standards for Rail Investigations (MOI Volume - IV, Part III); and
  • Style Guide, a style guide manual for writing reports.

Respondents to the Questionnaire confirmed this situation and indicated that their regularly and widely used work instruments were "Always" made readily available in the language of their choice to perform their duties in a ratio of 73% (22). The other 27% (8) indicated that regularly and widely used work instruments were "Often" made readily available in the language of their choice. Most of these respondents were French-speaking.

5.3 REGULARLY AND WIDELY USED ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS

The TSB does not fully comply with the Treasury Board policy on Language of Work with regard to Regularly and Widely Used Electronic Systems. Regularly and widely used electronic systems provided to TSB employees are not always made available in both official languages.

New applications are made available to employees by default in English across the TSB excepted in Québec where they are made available in French by default. Based on these premises, when a new employee's account is opened, Help Desk technicians let employees know that software are available in both languages, more particularly if the employee is French-speaking, and software are installed according to the employee's language choice.

The Audit Team examined on site the TIIMS platform and browsed through the different applications to verify the availability of applications in both official languages. It was noted that two important applications, PODS and RODS are available in English only and MARSIS is partially bilingual. The Horizon application was confirmed to be available in both official languages.

The Listing in Appendix I indicates that the following systems are not made available to employees in both languages: RODS' and PODS. Respondents to the Questionnaire corroborated this situation. They also noted MARSIS and Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader as being made available in English only in Headquarters. However, all respondents indicated that the computer hardware was available in the language of their choice.

The MARSIS application is partially bilingual. Data recorded into the application appear in the language keyed in by TSB users, but the application is mostly English. With respect to the GX application (salary management application), two respondents indicated that it was not available in the language of their choice, however, the application is bilingual. It would appear that employees are not made aware of the existence of both language versions.

Other applications that were identified by respondents as not being available in the language of their choice are ForeMost and ATIP Flow and Image. It was confirmed by managers that both of these applications are available in English and in French. With respect to ForeMost, the bilingual application is on the desk tops. It is a matter of switching from one language to the other. It again would appear that employees are not made aware of the existence of both language versions and how to access them.

Regarding GX, ForeMost and ATIP Flow and Image, managers confirmed that they have appropriate licences for the applications.

It was also explained to us that although some applications such as MARSIS, RODS, PODS are not fully available in the French language, these applications are outdated and the TSB plans to replace them with new bilingual applications. It appears, however, that this will not take place before two or three years.

Respondents to the Questionnaire indicated that regularly and widely used electronic systems are "Always" made readily available in the language of their choice to perform their duties in a ration of 63% (19). 28% (8) indicated that regularly and widely used work instruments were "Often" made readily available in the language of their choice. Three respondents did not provide answer to this question.

5.4 INFONET/INFOGATEWAY AND LIBRARY ACQUISITIONS

With regard to the TSB InfoNET/InfoGATEWAY, the TSB Guide for Designated Content Providers and Content Administrators (July, 2006) clearly indicates that "As a general rule, all material posted in the corporate document libraries should be available in both official languages in accordance with official languages policies" (Chapter 3 page 39). This process is consistent with the Directive on the Use of Official Languages on Web Sites which states that institutions must respect the right of employees to work and to communicate with them in the official language of their choice, in accordance with the requirements set out in the Policy on Language of Work.

Also, the Library Collection Development Policy contains a paragraph on official languages which states that "Documentation is generally acquired in French or English. The purchase of the same documentation in both official languages is excluded. The choice of language depends on the user who makes the request."

Both policies are in compliance with the Treasury Board Policy on Language of Work. The statement also applies to the TSB InfoNET/InfoGATEWAY, more specifically to new application such as the Transportation Investigation and Information Management Systems (TIIMS). This integrated information management platform supports the organization and in particular, the investigation teams by providing an integrated set of document, content, records, case workflow, forms and project management practices and tools. However, the statement would exclude dated applications (for example RODS, PODS) which are in English only.

5.5 EMPLOYEES' RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES WITH REGARD TO WORK INSTRUMENTS

TSB employees indicated that they are well aware of their rights and responsibilities with regard to work instruments. In fact, 90% (27) of respondents indicated that the TSB had informed them of their rights and obligations concerning the use of either official language at work. However, interviews with managers confirmed that the TSB does not have formal measures in place to provide information or awareness sessions to employees on their rights and obligations. Also, the number of individuals who reported that some applications were not available in both languages at Headquarters indicates that some employees may not be fully aware of their rights or that they are not aware of existing bilingual applications. For example, as noted in 5.3, ForeMost, GX and ATIP Flow and Image applications are available in both official languages but some employees are not aware of their availability.

5.6 SATISFACTION WITH THE USE OF THE TWO OFFICIAL LANGUAGES WITH REGARD TO WORK INSTRUMENTS

Respondents to the Questionnaire expressed a strong and positive satisfaction result concerning the opportunity to work in the official language of their choice. 97% (29) of the respondents indicated they are satisfied with the present conditions. Of those, 77% (23) are located in the National Capital Region and the Quebec Region. Thereof, 13% (9) are English-speaking and 61% (14) are French-speaking. The response rate and mix of English-speaking and French-speaking employees allows us to gauge the level of employee satisfaction with regards to the availability of bilingual work instruments.

However, respondents expressed mitigated satisfaction with regard to the simultaneous availability of generally and widely used work instruments and electronic systems in both official languages. 27% (8) indicated that work instruments were "Always" made available simultaneously when 40% (12) indicated "Often" and 34% (10) did not provide answer. Responses were in equal number between English-speaking and French-speaking respondents.

5.7 OTHER RELATED ISSUES

Respondents to the Questionnaire reported instances where e-mails addressed to all TSB employees were delivered in one language. It was also reported that internal briefings are often conducted in English only when some of the participants are unilingual English-speaking. These assertions were confirmed by two managers interviewed. One employee reported that some training courses are available in French at Dorval only.

We also noted that the TSB's domain name as it relates to the portion of the e-mail address to the right of the "@" sign, is not in a bilingual format. The bilingual function of the domain name (@bst-tsb.gc.ca) is not functional. The TSB's domain name appears in one language in the two following formats: English "employee's name@tsb.gc.ca)" or "employee's name@bst.gc.ca." This practice is contrary to the Directives on the Use of Official Languages on Web Sites and the Common Look and Feel Standards for the Internet and the related standards (Part IV, Standard 4.3 and the Part on the official languages, Standard 7.1 and 7.10) which state that the institution's signature and domain name must appear in both official languages and in the order prescribed in Appendix A of the Federal Identity Program Policy. According to Treasury Board, e-mail addresses are common elements of marketing, promotional and information materials. A common domain name convention across government will further enhance federal identity, presence and visibility.

6. RECOMMENDATIONS

It is recommended that the DG, Corporate Services, in consultation with managers:

  1. Develop criteria to help managers effectively identify work instruments and electronic systems that fall under the definition of regularly and widely used work instruments and review current listing for completeness and accuracy.
  2. Based on the agreed criteria, consider making available in both official languages existing unilingual English work instruments and electronic systems that are widely used (for example RODS, PODS, MARSIS) if such instruments are to be maintained in the medium or long term.
  3. Provide awareness sessions to employees to inform them of their rights and obligations with regard to language of work.
  4. Inform employees of those applications that are available in bilingual format (for example, GX, ForeMost, ATIP Image and Flow) and how they can be accessed.