Disclosure of internal audits 2008-2009

Audit of Overtime
Audit Report

Table of Contents


Executive Summary

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) undertook a compliance audit of overtime. The services of Samson & Associates were retained to conduct the audit.

This compliance audit had for objective to assess the extent of compliance of overtime payments with applicable collective agreements, terms and conditions of employment, and relevant Treasury Board (TB) and TSB policies; the effectiveness of management practices and controls over the authorization of overtime; and the efficiency and effectiveness of use of financial and human resources.

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 from February 19 to April 30, 2008.

The audit included two major components: a testing of 104 overtime transactions selected across the country and the completion of three case studies covering overtime expenditures and practices for three branches: Air, Marine and Rail. The audit scope dealt with employees working at Head Office and in regional offices that incurred overtime expenditures in the past two fiscal years (2005-2006 and 2006-2007).

The audit concludes that:

Compliance with applicable collective agreements, terms and conditions of employment, and relevant TSB policies needs strengthening with regard to:

  1. Peer review/verification, a process where a reviewer (colleague) ensures verification of transactions initiated by a compensation advisor. The Audit noted that this process is not always evidenced. Due to the number of errors that our tests disclosed, the audit team believes that this control is critical and should be present at all times.
  2. Exceptions to TB Policy on Maximum Hours of Work. All exceptions should be properly documented and should present evidence of management approvals. One of the exceptions mentioned in the TB Policy refers to the nature of the work that necessitates irregular distribution or periodic fluctuations of an employee's hours of work which are over the maximum of 48 hours a week. The Policy requires that departments maintain records on all exceptions authorized.
  3. The Extra Duty Pay Report and Authorization (EDPRA) form. The form does not always present evidence of the Section 34 of the FAA. When certifying pay documents that relate to overtime under Section 34 of the FAA, TSB Managers should ensure that they have taken into consideration the dispositions of the following TB Policies:

    • the terms and conditions of the respective collective agreements;
    • the TB Policy on Terms and Conditions of Employment; and
    • the TB Comptrollership Policy on Pay Administration;
  4. Our tests disclosed a total of 19 deficiencies and a total of 146 anomalies that related to 16 criteria which addressed compliance and data accuracy. Two lists of testing results on Deficiencies and Anomalies are presented in Appendix I. Of these deficiencies, 11 were for the period of 2005/2006 and 8 for the period of 2006/2007. The number of deficiencies and anomalies reported in the Appendix I is larger than the number of files reviewed (104) since a specific transaction could present more than one deficiency or anomaly.
  5. Our tests of the accumulated compensatory leave credits, which included the review of 11 employees' files, that involved the review of approximately 77 overtime transactions, disclosed an error rate of 7% (six deficiencies).

    Management practices and controls should be more effective:
  6. Approval of overtime requests is most of the time provided verbally. This practice does not allow for formal and verifiable evidence of approval of overtime. We recommend that TSB managers demonstrate to the extent possible that overtime requests were approved by maintaining documentation to substantiate instances where authorization was not possible (i.e. emergency responses to accidents or incidents) and review periodically the approval practices to ensure they comply with the procedures governing approval of overtime.
  7. The Human Resources Division (HRD) should take advantage of the full Human Resources Information System (HRIS) functionality. HR staff came to believe that the system erased all detailed compensatory time-off information pertaining to the previous fiscal year on March 31 of each year, when in fact the information is archived and easily retrievable. The current HR practice, which consists on relying on original paper documents when there is a need to consult prior year's data, is inefficient and time consuming.

    The efficiency and effectiveness of use of financial and human resources could be improved:
  8. Standby payments amount to $450,000 a year, almost half the total overtime payments at the TSB. Standby is required to ensure availability of resources and timely response to occurrences. This involves having constantly from 18 to 19 investigators on standby after working hours (4:00 P.M. to 8:00 A.M. and 24 hr on weekend for 16 hours of overtime a week per individual on standby). Branches apply standby differently across the TSB. We recommend that the DG Investigation Operations, in conjunction with Branch Directors and the Senior Financial Officer, investigate cost-effective alternative solutions to the present standby system to mitigate the need for overtime expenditures.

I. 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.

1.1 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.

1.2 TSB Overtime Usage

Overtime in the TSB is governed by various collective agreements, the terms and conditions of employment for unrepresented employee, and the TSB Policy on Application of Standby and Call-Back Provisions. Overtime is defined as "authorized time worked by an employee in excess of the standard daily or weekly hours of work and for which the employee may be entitled to compensation pursuant to the provisions of a collective agreement or a Treasury Board authority".

The terms and rates governing overtime compensation, for work performed outside of an employee's regular hours at the employer's request, are provided for in the various collective agreements. In 2006-2007, a total of $1,160,129 was paid out to employees in compensation for overtime worked. In 2005-2006, a total of $1,554,118 was paid for overtime worked. The value of claims paid for overtime as a % of total salaries was 6.1% in 2006-2007 and 8.4% in 2005-2006. In 2006-2007, 139 or 61.5% of the 226 employees working for the TSB submitted claims for overtime compensation. In 2005-2006, 152 or 64.9% of the 234 employees working for the TSB submitted claims for overtime compensation.

II. Audit Objective, Criteria and Scope

2.1 Audit Objective

The objectives of this audit were to assess:

  • the extent of compliance with applicable collective agreements, terms and conditions of employment, and relevant TSB policies;
  • the effectiveness of management practices and controls;
  • the efficiency and effectiveness of use of financial and human resources.

2.2 Audit Criteria

The compliance audit adopted the criteria listed below:

Criterion 1 – Extent of Compliance

  • the compensation for overtime is correctly calculated in accordance with the provision of applicable collective agreements and relevant terms and conditions of employment;
  • the TSB Policy on Application of Standby and Call-Back Provisions is properly implemented.

Criterion 2 – Management Practices and Controls

  • Overtime is properly authorized by managers:

    • before its occurrence, unless otherwise justified, by a person with proper delegated authority; and
    • when the work or service is considered essential.
  • employee health and safety is adequately considered in the approval of overtime;
  • managers have access to complete, accurate, timely, detailed information on overtime for planning, organizing and controlling overtime work within their respective area of responsibility;
  • managers properly exercise their delegated authority under Sections 32 and 34 of the Financial Administration Act (FAA) to approve and authorize overtime compensation for employees working outside normal working hours; and
  • managers effectively monitor and manage accumulated compensatory leave credits.

Criterion 3 –Efficient and Effective use of Financial and Human Resources

  • cost-effective alternative solutions are considered by managers to mitigate the need for overtime expenditures;

2.3 Scope

The audit included employees working at Head Office and in regional offices that incurred overtime expenditures in the past two fiscal years (2005-2006 and 2006-2007). The audit reviewed the adequacy of internal controls and practices for ensuring that:

  • TSB practices are compliant with applicable collective agreements, terms and conditions of employment, and the TSB Policy on Application of Standby and Call-Back Provisions;
  • managers properly exercise their responsibilities under Sections 32 and 34 of the FAA;
  • employees are properly compensated for approved overtime in accordance with the provisions of the applicable collective agreements; and
  • overtime costs are well managed and cost-effective alternative solutions are considered by managers to mitigate the need for overtime expenditures.

Scope Exclusions

The audit did not include:

  • an examination of the impact of overtime on operational services or program performance;
  • the use of consultants although it is recognized that short term consulting contracts can represent an alternative to overtime;
  • the EX Group and other employees on performance pay who are not entitled to overtime compensation;
  • the examination of planning documents such as costed work plans;
  • officers properly exercise their responsibilities under Section 33 of the FAA;
  • an attestation of the overall integrity, accuracy and completeness of the data recorded in the HRIS and GX systems;
  • an examination of cases of authorized and informal flexible working arrangements where an employee occasionally work outside normal working hours for short periods of time; and
  • the identification of the extent, dollar value, and impact of unrecorded overtime.

III. Methodology

The audit involved three phases: a preliminary review phase, an execution phase, which involved the review of a sample of transactions and the completion of three case studies, and a reporting phase that is this document.

3.1 Preliminary Phase

The preliminary phase included the review of background information and interviews with key personnel and finance managers. This phase resulted in the development of:

  • a policy framework document which included a summary of the key Treasury Board and the TSB policy requirements applicable to overtime entitlements. This policy framework was used in the confirmation of the suggested audit criteria;
  • a detailed process flowchart and control mapping of the overtime process at the TSB. This was to determine if the controls and practices in place were designed to ensure that expenditures incurred are complete, accurate, properly authorized and in compliance with existing authorities related to the following: roles and responsibilities; segregation of duties; expenditure verification; and delegations of authority; and
  • a Preliminary Survey report highlighting areas of high risk and describing the testing methodology.

3.2 Execution Phase

The verification of a representative sample of overtime transactions was to determine the effectiveness of the controls in place for various overtime entitlements: standby, call-back, overtime, travel time and accumulated overtime.

To ensure a balanced coverage of overtime data, the testing included a random sampling and a judgemental sampling of overtime transactions (cash payments and compensatory leaves). The testing assessed the adequacy of management practices and processes for the approval, certification and processing of claims for overtime compensation.

The random sampling reflected the audit criteria. The judgemental sampling was based on a selection of high-risk transactions.

Three case studies were also completed in responsibility centres of high overtime intensity: Air, Marine and Rail. This involved more extensive data analysis and interviews with the managers who are responsible for the approval of overtime and for ensuring that financial and human resources are utilized in an efficient manner.

IV. Audit Results

The Audit Team's conclusions presented in this report are first based on tests performed on overtime transactions and the completion of case studies. Tests involved a review of 104 overtime transactions, 54 transactions that occurred during the period of 2005/2006 and 50 transactions that occurred during the period of 2006/2007.

Our tests disclosed a total of 19 deficiencies and a total of 146 anomalies that related to 16 criteria which addressed compliance and data accuracy. Two lists of Testing results on Deficiencies and Anomalies are presented in Appendix I. Of these deficiencies, 11 were for the period of 2005/2006 and 8 for the period of 2006/2007. The number of deficiencies and anomalies reported in the Appendix I is larger than the number of files reviewed (104) since a specific transaction could present more than one deficiency or anomaly.

Case studies were completed through interviews with managers, information they provided to us during the audit and extensive review of financial and personnel information.

4.1 Extent of Compliance With Applicable Collective Agreements, Terms and Conditions of Employment, and Relevant TSB Policies

4.1.1 Calculation of the compensation for overtime in accordance with the provision of applicable collective agreements and relevant terms and conditions of employment

Minor errors in the overtime calculation or the application of applicable rates were found.

The audit team noted four instances where there were minor errors in the overtime calculation or the application of applicable rate. In three instances, the employee was not compensated enough for the overtime time worked due to miscalculations. Each of these three instances presented an error of less than one hour in the total duration of time worked. In one instance, the employee was compensated of one extra hour due to miscalculations. In the last instance, the employee was paid at time and one half for five hours of overtime but the calculation was based on the classification prescribed in the certificate of appointment of his or her acting position starting weeks after the period of overtime worked.

Collective agreements stipulations were not adequately applied in four instances. Two of these instances related to the Technical Services (TI) group within the Marine Branch:

  • In one instance, the employee who claimed 10 ½ hours of overtime was compensated a half additional hour at the double rate due to an error in the recording of the work done at the rate of time and one-half (for 7 hours instead of 7 ½ hours) and double time (3 ½ hours instead of 3 hours);
  • In another instance, a senior investigator who claimed 12 ½ hours of overtime did not receive the right compensation amount due to the fact that he was compensated for 10 ½ hours at time and one half instead 7 ½ hours as required and the subsequent 2 hours at the double time rate instead 5 hours at the double time rate as required.

One senior investigator within the Air Branch received more than what he was entitled to as per the stipulation of the collective agreement of Aircraft Operations (AO):

  • The employee who worked overtime during a designated Holiday was compensated at double time for each hour of overtime worked after fifteen hours work instead of being compensated at time and one-half for every hour worked.
  • An employee was compensated for 24-hour standby periods which occurred during regular working weekdays.

Management has been provided with the detailed information on these minor errors in overtime calculation. Although these errors have a low dollar impact, they are an indication that points to a weakness in internal controls. This item is discussed in section 4.2 of the report.

Recommendation:

1. The Manager, Human Resources, should initiate pay adjustments where warranted.

4.2 Effectiveness of Management Practices and Controls

4.2.1 Overtime authorization

Approval of most overtime requests is provided verbally and does not usually constitute a formal, verifiable practice.

Managers who have delegated signing authority for overtime and extra duty entitlements, in accordance with Section 32 and 34 of the FAA, are required to ensure that:

  • there is clear justification to have employees work in excess of the standard hours and that overtime is managed in an efficient and cost effective manner; and
  • overtime and extra duty entitlements are approved in advance and in accordance with the collective agreements.

TB Circular 1977-37 on Pay Administration stipulates in Annex B, Financial Aspects of Pay Administration Process, the certification process of Section 32 of the FAA for overtime. Section 32 of the FAA over extra duty pay is made when a manager instructs or gives permission to an employee to work extra duty. The control that satisfies the Section 32 of the FAA with regard to extra duty pay is the financial reports which show the manager the amount expended against the amount budgeted. Another control would be an auditable evidence, such as the EDPRA form signed by the various individuals involved in the process i.e. Investigator in charge (IIC), team leaders, etc.

The audit team noted that the Overtime authorization box of the EDPRA form was rarely filled in. At the TSB, Managers have for responsibility to exercise both, the authorization of overtime and the certification of the expenditure under the Section 34 of the FAA. Under these conditions it is believed that there is no added value having the same individual authorizing overtime and then certifying it.

Our interviews with managers on the process governing approval of overtime in the TSB disclosed that approval of most overtime requests is provided verbally and does not usually constitute a formal, verifiable practice. In a sense, there is no evidence that manager instructed or gave employees permission to do overtime. We understand that most overtime occurs in exceptional circumstances and managers constantly verify overtime worked by phone with employees. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that employees decide the number of hours of overtime to be done, not the managers.

In fact, some overtime is not subject to approval e.g.: overtime incurred in the two first days of an investigation. The logic governing this approach, as it was explained to us, is that managers know by experience that the first days of an investigation command a large amount of overtime to ensure that perishable evidences are secured and they are dealing with professional individuals who are expected to know under what circumstances that overtime is permitted. In addition, since all claims are eventually approved, the approving manager would be aware of any anomalies or abuse of his confidence.

In the absence of an auditable evidence of verification, managers should ensure that the various individuals involved in the process i.e. IICs, team leaders, etc., acknowledge overtime incurred by signing the EDPRA form. During the course of investigations, most overtime is completed under the supervision of IICs. They would corroborate that:

  • the employee actually performed the duties associated with requests for overtime and/or extra duty compensation; and
  • overtime and extra duty entitlements have been reported accurately in accordance with TB policy and the reporting requirements.

While verbal approval of routine requests for overtime would still be permitted, as would the use of e-mails, the mechanism for providing formal approval will be tailored to branches overtime drivers and operational requirements. Managers will review EDPRA in conjunction with any existing documents, such as investigation mandate, travel authority, or training authorization forms, where possible.

Recommendations:

2. Managers should approve all overtime requests and maintain documentation to substantiate instances where authorization was not possible (i.e. emergency responses to accidents or incidents).

3. Directors and managers should review periodically the approval practices of overtime to ensure they are compliant with the procedures governing this activity.

4.2.2 Employee health and safety is adequately considered in the approval of overtime

The TSB draft Policy on Work-Hours and Overtime-Hours Limitations does not respect the spirit of the TB policy on the Maximum hours of work

The TB Policy on the Maximum hours of work states that 48 hours constitutes the maximum number of hours in a week that a federal government employee may work unless exceptional conditions prevail which would hinder a department's ability to service the public or operate efficiently.

In its draft Policy on Work-Hours and Overtime-Hours Limitations, the TSB recognizes the need to strike a balance between the necessity to work long hours during the field phase of investigations and the risks associated with working under hazardous conditions of accident sites.

However, the policy specifies the maximum work-hour and overtime-hour limits instead of curbing them and encouraging management to investigate alternative arrangements to reduce excessive overtime. Consequently, suggested limits on hours in the TSB draft policy are still in excess of what can be considered reasonable. The TSB draft policy stipulates that the maximum number of hours worked on-site must not exceed:

  • 10 hours in a day
  • 84 hours in a 7-day period
  • 140 hours in a 14-day period, and
  • 280 hours in 28 days

Moreover, there is a stipulation in the draft policy to have plans to work times in excess of these limits be approved by the modal DOI, or his/her designate.

Our tests disclosed that 31 employees worked in excess of 48 hours a week. In most instances, the work was related to investigations. However, in seven instances, there was no clear justification for having the employees working in excess of 48 hours. The audit team did not observe any complaints relative to the excessive hours of overtime worked. Managers indicated to us that excessive hours of work were part of the employment conditions.

To maintain standards on maximum hours of work for the Public Service similar to those contained in the Canada Labour Code, the TB Policy on Maximum Hours of Work stipulates that the maximum number of hours that may be worked in a week by a Public Service employee is 48 hours unless exceptional conditions prevail. One of the exceptions mentioned in the policy is the following: "where the nature of the work necessitates irregular distribution or periodic fluctuations of an employee's hours of work, and adherence to a maximum of 48 hours could be seriously detrimental to departmental operations."

The Policy also requires that departments maintain records on all exceptions authorized by deputy heads or their delegates in extraordinary or unusual circumstances. TSB does not maintain such records, as required by the Policy. Records should include the specific reason(s) for the exception, the location, the number, occupational groups and levels of the employees concerned and the number of hours in excess of 48 hours per week worked by each employee.

Recommendation:

4. The Director General Investigation Operations, should ensure that all exceptions to TB Policy on Maximum Hours of Work are properly documented and present evidence of management approvals.

4.2.3 Management access to complete, accurate, timely, and detailed information on overtime for planning, organizing and controlling overtime work within their respective area of responsibility

Recording of overtime
Managers have access to complete, accurate, timely, and detailed information on overtime

Administrative officers, on receipt of EDPRA forms check compliance with standby schedule, travel arrangements, overtime codes, salary rates, etc., complete missing information as required and review calculations for accuracy. One best practice observed in one of the region is that overtime data are recorded on MS Excel spreadsheets and EDPRA forms are stamped as an indication that data were imputed. EDPRA forms are forwarded to regional managers (Air) or to managers at Head (Marine and Rail) for approval under Section 34 of the FAA. In some instances, EDPRA forms could be approved first under Section 34 of the FAA and then forwarded to the administrative officers (Air).

We were told that the process consisting in the completion and review of EDPRA forms was not consistently applied in regions. Just a few regional administration officers review the EDPRA forms before forwarding them to Head Office in Ottawa. Information on MS Excel spreadsheets is kept for budget and expenditure control, to compensate for the delay in the information processing by HR and Finance, and answer management inquiries on overtime incurred or to be paid in the following months.

After proper approval by managers in regions (Air Branch) or at Head Office (Marine and Rail Branches), EDPRA forms are forwarded to the Human Resources Division which oversees the administration of collective agreements, processes the overtime transactions, and maintains records of the compensatory leave balances, while Finance maintains the financial records for overtime payments.

Overtime paid in cash

Overtime is normally compensated by payment in cash. Paid overtime is accessible to the management level for monitoring through GX, the departmental financial management system.

Overtime as compensatory time-off
The TSB does not take advantage of the full HRIS functionality

Overtime can also be compensated through the provision of compensatory leave. To process and record leave and compensatory time-off data, the TSB utilizes the electronic Human Resources Information System (HRIS), a departmental system developed by Western Economic Diversification. The usage of this system is consistent with the TB Policy on Information Management which promotes linkages between information technology and information holdings. The TB policy also requires that electronic systems be the preferred means of creating, using, and managing information.

The audit team was told that on March 31 of each year, the HRIS purges all details of employees' past fiscal year data so that, after this data removal process, the only data available in the system for past years are leave totals and compensatory time-off totals. Detailed data is therefore no longer available for review, inquiries, analysis, audit, etc. Consequently, the only way to get access to the past years' information would be through the original paper documents at HQ or individual MS Excel spreadsheets in regional offices. The efficient electronic processing and presentation of past data is definitely lost.

Our communications with representatives of Western Economic Diversification disclosed that data is in fact just archived and stored in a dedicated memory system. The TSB personnel were not aware of this system function and have never activated it to access the archived data.

Although only a few interviewees reported problems to us due to the lack of detailed past year data, and that employees have been informed of the balance of their vacation and sick leave credits balance at year-end and they acknowledged these balances we feel that there is still a requirement for this electronic data.

Departments should have information that effectively and economically supports the execution of personnel management decisions and the day-to-day administration of employee pay, benefits and records and that informs management in a timely and accurate manner about their human resources.

Recommendation:

5. The manager, Human Resources should ensure that staff is appropriately trained on use of HRIS, particularly to sections that relate to past years' data on compensatory time-off.

4.2.4 Managers properly exercise their delegated authority under Section 34 of the FAA to approve and authorize overtime compensation for employees working outside normal working hours

Managers may face a challenge when certifying overtime under Section 34 of the FAA due to the fact that approval is informal and/or was granted by different individuals

All payment transactions must be verified and certified under Section 34 of the FAA. Primary responsibility for verifying individual accounts rests with officers who have the authority to confirm and certify entitlement under Section 34 of the FAA. Persons with this authority are responsible for the correctness of the payment and of the account verification procedures. For pay transactions, the person certifies that:

  • the payee is entitled to or eligible for the payment;
  • the payment conforms with relevant contract or agreement terms and conditions;
  • the transaction is accurate and the financial coding has been provided; and
  • the transaction complies with all relevant statutes, regulations, and Treasury Board policies, such as overtime policies.

Our tests disclosed five instances where the EDPRA forms did not present any evidence of the Section 34 of the FAA.

Other prerequisites to the approval of an overtime claim are:

  • the employee was required to work overtime;
  • the employee does not control the duration of the period that he or she works overtime;
  • management has certified the duration of the overtime worked; and
  • management confirms that the employee actually performed the duties associated with requests for extra duty compensation.

This may present a challenge to the manager given the informal process governing the approval of overtime and to some extent the geographical dispersion of the TSB staff.

This situation could be compounded by the fact that initial approval of overtime could have been requested by different individuals who did not sign the EDPRA form. The ability of the approving manager, to verify that the hours claimed have been worked, is not always clearly defined in such instances.

Recommendation:

6. When certifying under Section 34 of the FAA pay documents that relate to overtime, TSB Managers should ensure that they have taken into consideration the dispositions of the following TB Policies:

  • the terms and conditions of the respective collective agreements;
  • the TB Policy on Terms and Conditions of Employment; and
  • the TB Comptrollership Policy on Pay Administration;

4.2.5 Managers effectively monitor and manage accumulated compensatory leave credits

Our tests of the accumulated compensatory leave credits included the review of 11 employees' files which involved the review of approximately 77 overtime transactions. Tests disclosed the following:

  • The conciliation of employees' files with corresponding data in the HRIS did not balance in three instances by less than 5 hours for each instance to the detriment of the employees.
  • In one instance, the conciliation did not balance by 5.95 hours to the advantage of the employee.
  • In one instance, compensatory time-off was not properly posted in the HRIS. While 7 hours were worked at the applicable rate of 1.75 (= 12.25), 14 hours were entered in the HRIS. As a consequence, 1.75 hours were paid in excess to the employee at year-end.
  • In another instance, it was not always clear if time was compensated at the compressed workweek rate or standard rate.

The process presents the following deficiencies:

  • EDPRA form does not show the compensation advisor initial when information is posted into the HRIS;
  • EDPRA form is not always stamped "posted" to evidence that data were entered into the HRIS; and
  • The process does not involve a peer review or supervisory review to confirm the accuracy and completeness of information posted into the HRIS.

As mentioned previously, the HR staff came to believe that the system erased all detailed compensatory time-off information pertaining to the previous fiscal year on March 31 of each year, when in fact the information is archived and easily retrievable.

Recommendation:

7. The manager, Human Resources should ensure that deficiencies are corrected.

4.2.6 Inadequate completion of the EDPRA form

Our tests also revealed a number of deficiencies (24 instances) that related to the proper completion of the EDPRA form by the employees such as:

  • end hours not indicated when call-back was claimed,
  • type of week worked (compressed, standard) not identified,
  • start and end hours reversed, reasons for call-back not documented,
  • wrong overtime code used, employees who claimed a cycle of three period of standby when just two were applicable.

In one instance, the EDPRA form was not signed by the employee while in four instances the form had not been dated by the employee. Compensation advisors timely corrected these anomalies and employees were adequately compensated.

The TSB has customized the PWGSC Extra Duty Pay Report and Authorization form so that the EDPRA form can be filled manually or electronically. Most investigators use the electronic form. The limitations of the TSB edit controls are such that the approving manager constitutes the key control governing data integrity. The electronic form does not contain any edits to flag unusual overtime transactions submitted for processing. If no such warning is given, the overtime claim is sent for processing and a pay action is created.

Additional controls that should be considered are calculation on the start and end extra duty work hours and appropriate multiplier. These would prevent that overtime hours be under or overstated or the incorrect multiplier be used, and prevent error correction in compensation.

Because of the number of collective agreements governing overtime compensation of the TSB employees, the variations in agreement conditions and the existence of compressed work schedules, we believe that it would be difficult to build many generic edit controls in the electronic form. At this point, the audit team believe an EDPRA form that could facilitate the recording of compensatory leave and extra duty occurrences and basic calculations mentioned above would be sufficient.

Recommendation:

8. The manager, Human Resources should develop some written instructions on how to fill out the EDPRA form (use of codes, etc…) and provide it to any new employee within TSB.

4.2.7 Peer review/verification of pay transactions

There were instances where Peer Review/Verification of pay documents was lacking.

TB policy requires that departments design and implement internal procedures to ensure a correct and consistent application of the various pay regulations, and to ensure the accurate completion of pay documents input to the PWGSC On-line pay system. One of the features of such a system is a control to ensure the prompt identification and correction of any transaction flagged as a possible error. A compensation advisor initiates pay transactions based on pertinent documents signed and dated and subsequently, a reviewer/auditor (colleague) ensures verification and analysis of these transactions. This independent verification on pay input is also referred to as peer review. As an internal control, the peer review's acknowledgement and electronic signature is required for the transaction to be processed. In small organizations, due to the few number of resources, it could happen that a compensation advisor is provided with the authorization to perform both functions with regard to the same operation: input of transactions and their audit. In such circumstances, Section 33 of the FAA performed by an independent financial officer with payment authority is a key control to ensure proper segregation of functions.

Our tests disclosed five instances where there was no evidence of peer review/verification on the On Line Pay System Print-out usually kept in file. The review/verification process is usually evidenced by the verifier's initials, the date the transaction was input in the system and its sequential number. Due to the number of errors that ours tests disclosed, the audit team believes that a control checklist should have been in place to document the "review/verification" function of Extra Duty Pay Report in such circumstances.

Recommendation:

9. The Director General, Corporate Services should ensure that the Comptrollership Policy on Pay Administration is complied with in regard to the process for verifying accounts, which requires auditable evidence of verification.

4.3 Efficient and Effective Use of Financial and Human Resources

4.3.1 Cost-effective alternative solutions are considered by managers to mitigate the need for overtime expenditures

Standby constitutes the largest expenditure in overtime.

Cost control and possible expenditure reduction is dependent on applicable data pertaining to the identification of the drivers of overtime. Our analysis of overtime data reveals that standby constitutes the largest entitlement in overtime expenditures in the following three branches: 39.0% for the Air Branch, 37,1% for the Marine Branch and 48.5% for the Rail Branch.

The average standby proportion of overtime expenditures for the three branches was 42.7% for the fiscal year 2006-2007 as outlined in table 1.

Table 1: Overtime entitlements expended by branches for 2006-2007
  Standby Call-back Overtime Travel time Accumulated Overtime Total
Source: Extract from the TSB's Financial System as of February 14, 2008
Air Branch $106,927 $7,621 $109,514 $32,452 $17,352 $273,866
% of total expended 39.0% 2.8% 40.0% 11.9% 6.3% 100%
Investigations greater than $50,000     19,394 7,563   26,957
Total $106,927 $7,621 $128,908 $40,015 $17,352 $300,823
Marine Branch $125,720 $9,765 $113,862 $46,685 $42,355 $338,387
% of total expended 37.1% 2.9% 33.6% 13.8% 12.5% 100%
Rail Branch $189,739 $23,513 $143,793 $20,096 $14,342 $391,483
% of total expended 48.5% 6.0% 36.7% 5.1% 3.7% 100%
Total for the three branches $428,754 $40,851 $369,370 $106,217 $58,824 $1,004,016
  42.7% 4.1% 36.8% 10.6% 5.9% 100%

With few exceptions, this percent average is consistent for the three branches in all regions across Canada as showed in table 2. The Rail Branch – Eastern Region presents the highest ratio (68.9%) since the number of investigators on standby increases from one to two every second week.

Table 2: Number of investigators and overtime expenditures by branches and regions
Responsibility Center # Investigator / Mode 2006-2007
2 Week/month 2 Week/month Standby $ Overtime expenditures $
Air Branch
Air - Director's Office       365  
Air-Head Office Operations       31,658  
Air - Standard and Performance       5,316  
Air Atlantic (Dartmouth) 1   13,310 22,720 58.6%
Air Quebec (Dorval) 1   19,969 46,370 43.1%
Air Ontario (Richmond Hill) 1   22,157 36,984 59.9%
Air Central (Winnipeg) 1   14,172 53,160 26.7%
Air Western (Edmonton) 1   24,383 42,612 57.2%
Air Pacific (Richmond) 1   12,936 34,681 37.3%
Air Sub-total 6 6 106,927 273,866 39.0%
Marine Branch
Marine Head Office 1   $47,486 $103,271 45.98%
Marine Standard & Perform. 1   $5,869 $41,579 14.12%
Marine Atlantic (Dartmouth) 1   $18,949 $52,534 36.07%
Marine Quebec (St Foy) 1   $21,390 $62,950 33.98%
Marine Pacific (Richmond) 1   $32,026 $72,890 43.94%
Marine Sub-total 5 5 125,720 333,224 37.15%
Rail Branch
Rail Head Office 1 1 $18,518 $54,951 33.7%
Rail - Standard & Performance     $20,271 $60,144 33.7%
Rail - Regional Operations     $1,137 $3,360 33.8%
Rail Eastern Region (Dartmouth Quebec, Dorval) 1 2 $61,068 $88,702 68.9%
Rail Central Region (Richmond Hill, Petrolia, Winnipeg) 3 3 $38,710 $83,527 46.3%
Rail Western Region (Richmond, Edmonton, Calgary) 2 2 50,035 $100,799 49.6%
Rail Sub-total 7 8 189,739 391,483 48.5%
TOTAL Standby expended 8 19 $422,386 $998,576 42.3%

The TSB argues that it requires an effective and cost-efficient standby and call-back system for the following reasons:

  • To facilitate timely responses in Canada's different geographic areas
  • To ensure the credibility and relevance of the TSB's first response
  • To guarantee that resources are available when required
  • To facilitate return to service, to ensure a timely response to occurrences, and to enable quick emergency decisions
  • To meet the TSB's legal obligation to secure the occurrence sites
  • To preserve perishable evidence and to capture witness accounts as soon as possible after an occurrence
  • To meet stakeholder expectations

It is estimated that $450,000 a year is required to ensure availability of resources and timely response to occurrences. This also involves having constantly from 18 to 19 investigators on standby after working hours (4:00 P.M. to 8:00 A.M. and 24 hr on weekend). There are differences in the manner the various branches operate the standby system:

Air Branch:

  • The Air Branch standby system includes six regional investigators, one in each region. Calls are received by the regional investigator on standby. He contacts the regional manager if a deployment might be required.

Marine Branch:

  • The Marine Branch standby system includes five regional investigators. Calls are received at Head Office (HO) through the national marine reporting phone number. The Head Office standby investigator calls the pertinent regional staff on standby duty. Standby investigators are expected to inform their managers, as appropriate, that a deployment to an occurrence site might be required. In addition, one investigator is paid one hour for checking BlackBerries on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Rail Branch:

  • The Rail Branch standby system included in 2006-2007 from seven to eight investigators (two in Western regions, three in Central regions, one or two every second week in Eastern region, and one at (HO). The calls are received at HO through the Hotline. The HO technical coordinator calls the pertinent regional manager if it is suspected that follow-up is required. If follow-up is required the HO technical coordinator calls the standby regional investigator at the request of the regional manager.

These arrangements were recommended by the Standby and Call-back Committee established in May 2003 under the direction of the DGIO as part of a response to an outstanding grievance.

Recommendation:

10. The DG Investigation Operations, in conjunction with Branch Directors and the Senior Financial Officer, should investigate cost-effective alternative solutions to the present standby system to mitigate the need for overtime expenditures.

Other reasons for overtime

Investigations are another major driver for overtime. Moreover, managers reported some other reasons for overtime:

  • vacant positions. As of April 1, 2007, there were 11 vacant positions: four in the Air Branch (7% of total positions), three in the Marine Branch (9%) and three in the Rail Branch (11%). Vacant positions create additional work for other investigators;
  • numerous request from the TSB Board;
  • management expectations for the timely completion of investigations;
  • short deadlines for the publication of reports; and
  • work distribution between employees and employees specialisations.

Management reported that they do not have that much flexibility in the implementation of new approaches to control overtime. The TSB mandate imposes on management independence, professional approach and timely response. TSB's managers have however already used in the past services of retired employees to contribute to the completion of investigation reports and reduce the claiming of overtime.


Appendix I: Testing Results on Deficiencies and Anomalies

Report on Test Results

Table 1: Deficiencies
Criteria Deficiency 2006-2007 2005-2006 Total of Deficiencies Number of Files %
5.1.1 Minor errors in the overtime calculation or the application of applicable rates 3 1 4 4 4%
5.1.2 Collective agreements stipulations were not adequately applied 1 3 4 4 4%
5.2.4 No evidence of Section 34 of the FAA 2 3 5 5 5%
5.2.6 The EDPRA form has not been signed and dated by the employee 0 1 1 1 1%
5.2.7 No evidence of peer verification 2 3 5 5 5%
  Total of Deficiencies 8 11 19 104 18%

Deficiency: Errors in overtime calculation and/or non compliance with TB policies or collective agreements stipulations.

Table 2: Anomalies
Criteria Anomaly 2006-2007 2005-2006 Total of Anomalies Number of Files %
5.2.1 Supervisor’s signatures is missing 31 40 71 68 68%
5.2.2 Hours of work in excess of 48 hours a week 16 15 31 31 30%
5.2.2 Lack of justification for the hours worked in excess of 48 hours a week 3 2 5 5 5%
5.2.6 Reasons for overtime and call-back are not documented 7 4 11 11 11%
5.2.6 EDPRA form not adequately completed 14 10 24 24 23%
5.2.6 The EDPRA form has not been dated by the employee 1 3 4 4 4%
  Total of Anomalies 72 74 146 104  

Appendix II: Case Study Summary

Three case studies were completed in responsibility centres of high overtime intensity: Air, Marine and Rail. This involved more extensive data analysis and interviews with the managers who are responsible for the approval of overtime and for ensuring that financial and human resources are utilized in an efficient manner.

The objective of the case studies was to identify issues, concerns, and opportunities for improvement to compliance measures as well as management practices and controls.

The cases studies were completed in conjunction with an audit of overtime which had for objective to assess:

  • the extent of compliance with applicable collective agreements, terms and conditions of employment, and relevant TSB policies;
  • the effectiveness of management practices and controls;
  • the efficiency and effectiveness of use of financial and human resources.

Suggested approaches included the conduct of interviews with:

  • managers and employees;
  • HR officials and pay specialists responsible for administrating, monitoring and interpreting the application of the provisions of applicable collective agreements and terms and conditions of employment; and
  • the managers who are responsible for the approval of overtime and for ensuring that financial and human resources are utilized in an efficient manner.

In addition, the following TSB documents were reviewed:

  • TSB 2006-2007 Overtime review report (2007.10.23);
  • Standby and Call-back Committee Final Report;
  • Policy on the Application of Standby and Call-back Provisions in the TSB;
  • Overtime process at the TSB – Major Steps and Control Points;
  • TSB's organizational charts for October 31, 2005 and October 13, 2006;
  • Draft Policy on Work-Hours and Overtime-Hours Limitations;
  • 2006-2007 TSB Annual Report to Parliament; and
  • TSB's Financial System data as of February 14, 2008.

The three Branches are governed by the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act. Investigative responses are conducted in accordance with standard operating procedures specific to each Mode and the Major Occurrence Investigation Checklists.

The policy framework that directs the management of overtime is comprehensive. It includes among others: T.B. policies on Terms and Conditions of Employment and Maximum Hours of Work, Circulars on Pay Administration, Comptrollership Policy on Pay Administration, and the applicable collective agreements.

Cases studies examined overtime, standby, call-back, travel time and accumulated overtime. The next paragraphs present the summary of our findings from interviews with TSB staff.

Numerous factors justify overtime expenditures such as the number and complexity of investigations that must be completed in a year, the availability of individuals assigned to investigations, and the numerous related investigation tasks to be completed.

Each Branch has specific investigation methodologies and approaches. In addition, sectors of activities differ considerably between Branches. So, comparison or correlation between each Branch with regard to length in time to complete an investigation and the number of investigators compared to the overtime expenditures could be misleading.

However, first, we established the percentage of total overtime paid over salary. Except for Air Branch where major investigations conducted in 2005-2006 constituted the main driver for overtime, percentages of overtime over salaries within each Branch were quite similar from year to year.

Second, we compared the number of investigations completed against the number of positions. When comparing these two items Air Branch would present a ratio of two, Marine Branch, a ratio of four and Rail/Pipeline Branch a ratio of two. These ratios offer a different perspective when compared to the total overtime as percentage of salaries. Air Branch shows a ratio of two with a 6.4% of overtime expenditures over salaries; Marine Branch shows a ratio of four with a 7.8% of overtime expenditures over salaries; Rail/Pipeline Branch shows a ratio of two with a 18% of overtime expenditures over salaries. This percentage is exceptionally high and symptomatic. During the interviews, it was mentioned that standby could be used to compensate the difference in salaries between groups. Rail/Pipeline Branch budget is mainly used for standby expenditures (from 45% in 2005-2006 to 55% in 2006-2007 %). Table 1 presents this percentage for each Branch and years 2005-2006 and 2006-2007.

Table 1: Branch productivity
Items Air Branch Marine Branch Rail/Pipeline Branch
Fiscal Year 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007
Number of Occurrences 1129 1126 679 716 1252 1152
Investigations Completed 53 36 12 8 10 13
Number of Positions   72   32   28
Investigations Completed as per Number of Positions   2   4   2

Overtime

The three branches expended overtime payments to staff in the amount of $391,734 in 2005-2006 and $367,169 in 2007-2008. Table 2 gives the details for each Branch.

Table 2: Overtime expenditures
Items Air Branch Marine Branch Rail/Pipeline Branch
Fiscal Year 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007
In the Air Branch, additional overtime expenditures were expended in the amount of $336,024 in 2005-2006 and $26,957 in 2006-2007 for investigations greater than $50,000.
Overtime & Meal Allowance $134,782 $109,514 $155,573 $113,862 $101,379 $143,793
Regular Overtime as a % of Total Overtime Expenditures 43.9% 40.0% 40.6% 33.7% 26.2% 36.7%

Overtime is not equally distributed between employees as shown in Table 3. The situation is mainly due to the fact that some investigations require employees with specific domain of expertise and experience. These employees presenting the required expertise are more subject to incur overtime.

Table 3: Employee overtime earnings
Items Air Branch Marine Branch Rail/Pipeline Branch
Fiscal Year 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007
Average Overtime Earning $13,888 $9,628 $15,972 $12,534 $18,413 $17,795
Maximum Overtime Earning $30,229 $20,642 $36,446 $24,787 $32,943 $39,367

In order to improve work efficiency and better control overtime, Marine Branch management has initiated a process where employees are given the opportunity to discuss workload, work distribution, and ways to reduce overtime.

Air Branch has established a team in H.O. that is taking care of all major incidents. Employees with the required expertise and experience are assigned to this team for the duration of investigations.

We were also told that regional employees are frequently assigned to other regions that would require assistance to complete investigations. It happens that overtime leads to long days of work e.g.: 10 to 20 hours of work. These situations should be corrected with the introduction of a new policy.

Standby

The TSB must have the ability to respond to accidents/incidents on a 24-hour/seven day a week basis. In addition, the TSB must facilitate timely responses in Canada's different geographic areas, ensure the credibility and relevance of the TSB's first response, and meet stakeholder expectations. To meet these requirements, the TSB requires from its staff to be available on standby.

Standby occurs when employees are required to be available at a known telecommunications number and to be able to perform authorized work during off-duty hours for the designated period of standby duty. This is the largest extra duty expenditure after the overtime expenditure except for Rail/Pipeline Branch where standby is the largest one with 55.5% of standby expenditures in 2005-2006 and 48.5% in 2006-2007 as shown in Table 4. For the three branches, standby paid to staff amounted to $472,777 in 20005-2006 and $422,386 in 2007-2008.

Table 4: Standby expenditures
Items Air Branch Marine Branch Rail/Pipeline Branch
Fiscal Year 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007
(1) Marine Branch: since April 1, 2008, the H.O. employee answers calls originating from Ontario and the North when before it used to be two employees from the Ontario Region.
Locations 6 regions H.O. & 4 regions 5 individuals (1) H.O. and 6 regions
Standby 128,072 106,927 $130,167 $125,720 $214,538 $189,739
Standby as a % of Total Overtime Expenditures 38.8% 39.0% 34.0% 37.2% 55.5% 48.5%

Air Branch: Standby is decentralized in six regions: Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Central, Western, and Pacific. Standby is performed on a continuing basis outside working hours. Head Office employees do not perform standby. A schedule is prepared annually and standby is distributed on an equitable basis among employees. Changes to the schedule occur frequently since investigators could be assigned to investigations in other regions.

Marine Branch: Standby occurs at H.O. and in the four regions: Maritimes & Newfoundland, Laurentian, Central and Arctic, and Western. During weekdays, standby is ensured by one individual in each location from 4:00 P.M. to 08:00 A.M. On weekends a 24/24 coverage is ensured. Since April 1, 2008, one Head Office employee answers calls originating from Ontario and the North when before it used to be two employees from the Ontario Region.

Calls are first received at H.O. through the national marine phone number. Depending on the information obtained, calls are subsequently transferred to the pertinent regional staff on standby duty. Then, standby investigators are expected to inform their managers, as appropriate, when a deployment to an occurrence site is required. An additional hour is paid to the H.O. standby investigator for checking BlackBerries on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Rail Branch: Standby applies to H.O. and six regions: Vancouver, Alberta/Saskatchewan, Manitoba/Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Atlantic/Quebec. Atlantic/Quebec regions present a special condition. Standby is ensured during a first two-week period by an investigator located in Québec City. The territory covered spans from Cornwall to Halifax. During the second two-week period, standby is ensured by two investigators: a first one located in Montreal and a second one located in Halifax. The investigator located in Montreal answers calls originating from the western part of the territory (from Cornwall to Edmunston), while the investigator located in Halifax answers calls originating from the eastern part of the territory (from Edmunston to Halifax).

During weekdays, standby is ensured by one individual in each location from 4:00 P.M. to 08:00 A.M. On weekends a 24/24 coverage is ensured. Staff is on standby for a two week period. Pipeline Sector does not require any standby. Employees get overtime for three hours right away when they receive a call.

Calls are first received at H.O. through the Hotline number. The H.O. technical coordinator evaluates the significance of the occurrence and subsequently calls the pertinent regional manager (all Rail managers carry cell phones or pagers). When a follow-up is required, the H.O. technical coordinator calls the standby regional investigator at the request of the regional manager.

Stand-by schedules are prepared at least one quarter in advance and standby is distributed on an equitable basis among employees. Manager is advised of any changes to the schedule.

Travel time

The three branches reimbursed travel time expenditures to staff in the amount of $104,978 in 2005-2006 and $99,233 in 2007-2008 (Table 5).

Table 5: Travel time
Items Air Branch Marine Branch Rail/Pipeline Branch
Fiscal Year 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007
Travel Time $31,176 $32,452 $57,882 $46,685 $15,920 $20,096
Travel as a % of Total Overtime Expenditures 9.4% 11.9% 15.1% 13.8% 4.1% 5.1%

Air Branch: Occasionally, travel to other countries is required when Canadian transporters are involved in occurrences overseas.

Marine Branch: Some investigators or managers are travelling to other countries (Great Britain, United States, etc.) to discuss about good practices.

Rail Branch: Travel expenditures are paid in reimbursement of investigation purpose.

Accumulated overtime

The three Branches paid off accumulated overtime at year-end to staff in the amount of $80,838 in 2005-2006 and $74,049 in 2007-2008 (Table 6).

Table 6: Accumulated overtime
Items Air Branch Marine Branch Rail/Pipeline Branch
Fiscal Year 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007 2005-2006 2006-2007
Accumulated Overtime $16,598 $17,352 $32,107 $42,355 $31,773 $14,342
Accumulated Overtime as a % of Total Overtime Expenditures 5.0% 6.3% 8.4% 12.5% 8.2% 3.7%

Marine Branch: Accumulated overtime is monitored through Intranet. In September regional Administration officers send a worksheet with cumulated time-off of all employees to managers.

Budgeting

Air Branch and Marine Branch: Budget is established first by Regional Office Managers and the Director of the Branch and subsequently approved by the Executive Committee. For the past five years, the same overtime budget figures were submitted and approved.

Rail Branch: In the past 5 years, the Executive Committee considered increase in the overtime budget in line with the increase in standby expenses but the increase was not approved.

In the Audit Report, we made a recommendation to the effect that the DG Investigation Operations, in conjunction with Branch Directors and the Senior Financial Officer, should investigate cost-effective alternative solutions to the present standby system to mitigate the need for overtime expenditures.