I call the meeting to order, even though it's a couple of minutes before our scheduled start time.
We we do have a number of witnesses with us today, and I appreciate their being here.
Colleagues, just for your edification, this is how I plan to deal with this. We have two panels of four witnesses each. Each of the two panels will have a 10-minute intervention per organization. Then we will go into, hopefully, a full seven-minute round of questions from each of the committee members. That should bring us to approximately 5 p.m., or shortly thereafter, at which time I will suspend and we will go in camera for some committee business.
Without further ado, I'd like to welcome our witnesses.
From the Association of Canadian Financial Officers, we have Mr. Dany Richard and Mr. Nicolas Brunette-D’Souza.
From the Public Service Alliance of Canada, we have Chris Aylward, who we have had at this committee many times before, and Amy Kishek.
I understand that you have determined what the speaking order will be.
My understanding is that, Mr. Aylward, you're going first for 10 minutes, please.
The floor is yours.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members, for the opportunity to meet with you today.
Representing over 120,000 federal public service workers, our main focus is on internal staffing processes. In 2003, the Public Service Modernization Act, or PSMA, made changes to the Public Service Employment Act that were supposed to make staffing faster. While there are still complaints that the process is too slow, many of our members are more concerned about how arbitrary the process has become because of the PSMA changes.
Internal staffing processes need to be fair and appear to be fair, need to reflect the objectives of the Employment Equity Act, and need to provide appropriate career transition opportunities for our members. In the 2007 public service employee survey, when public service workers were asked if the selection process was done fairly in their work unit, 26% said no. Those numbers were even higher for equity groups, and as high as 40% for persons with disabilities.
In the staffing and non-partisanship survey report on the results for the federal public service released last week, 32% of the employees who responded said they felt the selection process in their work unit was not done fairly. Thirty-eight per cent did not agree that the staffing actions were carried out in a transparent way. Almost 54% agreed that appointments depended on who you know.
When the PSMA was enacted, the universally recognized concept of relative merit was replaced with a concept that is less fair and more arbitrary. Merit is now defined as someone who meets the essential qualifications of the position and any additional qualifications or needs that might be considered by the organization currently or in the future.
The PSMA gave front-line managers the ability to make appointments, and defined merit based on individual managerial discretion. Managers don't have to hire the most qualified candidate, only the candidate they think is the best. It is now acceptable to consider only one person for appointment. This has created the potential for abuse, and certainly the appearance of abuse, among our members.
Even layoffs are subject to the current concept of merit. This creates the bizarre situation where employees are made to compete for their own jobs. During the downsizing that occurred earlier this decade, the Public Service Commission was forced to quickly write guidelines to govern the process, which became known as SERLO, or the assessment and selection of employees for retention or layoff process.
The act also expressly encourages and facilitates delegation of the deputy head's authority to appoint to the lowest managerial level possible, creating serious accountability issues. Lack of accountability opens the door to arbitrary staffing decisions and, at the very least, the appearance of favouritism. The current new direction in staffing initiative is reinforcing that delegation to the lowest levels.
Another issue is that employees are often unaware of when staffing processes are taking place, in particular in the case of non-advertised and acting processes. The employer doesn't even have to post indeterminate positions. A hiring manager can decide that a particular person is the right fit for the position and therefore meets the definition and requirements of individual merit. This is neither fair nor equitable.
Non-advertised processes are often used when pools have already been created. Pools raise expectations that they will be used. However, it appears that managers have no obligation to use the pools they create. The task force on diversity and inclusion was told that members of equity-seeking groups qualify for positions after overcoming several barriers and then remain in pre-qualified pools at rates not proportionate with their numbers, with no recourse.
The recourse process itself is undermined and diluted by the PSMA. The Public Service Employment Act now encourages departments to create their own internal recourse mechanism, which results in a lack of consistency across the federal public service. The only informal recourse the Act requires is informal discussion. This allows unsuccessful candidates to talk with their manager about why they were not selected for appointment, or were screened out or not considered for appointment. However, informal discussion and mediation often appear to be dismissed by managers as a mere formality, and decisions are seldom reversed.
Beyond this, complaints to the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board can only be filed in very limited situations. These include situations where candidates are not appointed as a result of abuses of authority in determining merit, in choosing between an advertised and non-advertised internal appointment process, or in not assessing candidates in their official language of choice. There is very little time in which to launch a complaint, even within these very limited reasons.
The formal complaint process has become increasingly more legalistic, cumbersome and intimidating. Our volunteer activists are often advocating against lawyers in a clear imbalance of power.
While the old system of appeal boards was far from perfect, it did provide for an independent third party to consider the effect of errors, irregularities and omissions in the selection process. It was informal and easily accessible. These characteristics are absent from the current staffing process and remedies are limited as well. For example, employees cannot be put into a position if their complaint is upheld.
It is also important to note that very few complaints dealing with disabilities or lack of accommodation during a staffing process are pursued, yet disability-related discrimination is consistently identified as significant. It often takes a year or more to issue decisions, which discourages employees from filing complaints.
Many managers underscore staffing decisions with information from performance reports where talent is one of the key criteria. Talent is a very subjective concept, and our members believe that the importance placed on it as a staffing criteria is unfair and unaccountable.
As a result of the new direction in staffing, organizations are expected to self-audit staffing processes. Many departments and organizations are still not equipped to do so. Too often, the audit analysis is framed to support existing staffing decisions. If audits were working, members would not be seeing what they view as clear abuses of the non-advertised appointment process.
Self-auditing results should be shared with local, regional and national unions through consultation. Analysis and creation of audit questions should include a union perspective, as well as organizational surveys of candidates, complainants and all staff. This is not occurring at the national level as much as it should. There are also a number of barriers to equity groups in the staffing process. The Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion noted in its final report the lack of confidence in the fairness of the process.
Barriers identified by employees, as reported by the task force, included: pre-qualified hiring pools, as I've already mentioned; right fit assessments, which they assert are being used to disqualify candidates who meet all other requirements; the absence of opportunities to discuss and resolve the difficult issues of bias and discrimination; the fear of reprisal that prevents employees from raising issues of discrimination and harassment; and finally, very limited remedies.
We have some recommendations.
The current law should be changed so that we are able to negotiate staffing. Collective agreement provisions governing staffing would actually increase the speed in which internal staffing processes would work by setting clear parameters and timeframes.
The speed of staffing could be increased if the definition of merit was changed to include years of service factors.
Internal staffing plans must be complemented by career transition training and mentoring plans. To this end, staffing plans must be discussed with the unions at the local UMC level well ahead of staffing processes. Currently, they are not.
The Public Service Commission should have the power to demand that departments have clear and transparent mechanisms for working with unions and members on staffing issues.
Centralized staffing oversight by the commission should be increased, so that more audits and studies can be done about the real causes of staffing discontent and slow processes. We also support the recommendations on staffing in the report of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion.
Finally, regarding complaints about slowness of external staffing, it is important to hire people who can provide the very best services possible, and this principle needs to be balanced against the time it takes to hire them. Staffing may take too long because of human resources capacity in departments. Despite all of the problems with the Phoenix technology, cutting staff was a big part in creating the problems. Hiring more staff is a big part of the solution.
You also need to look at what jobs are being staffed. If you want to hire tradespeople or labour inspectors, for example, federal government wages for these jobs are uncompetitive. We have been trying for years to address that discrepancy through wage studies and collective bargaining.
Thank you for your time. Ms. Kishek and I will address any questions you may have.
Chair, honourable members, and committee staff, good afternoon. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
My name is Dany Richard. I am both a public servant and the president of the union representing more than 4,600 financial professionals in the public service across Canada, members who work every day to ensure the integrity of the public purse.
The goals of the public service staffing system are to ensure that jobs in the public service are open to any qualified candidate and to ensure that appointments are made in a fair, transparent and unbiased way. However, as PSAC has rightfully pointed out in their opening remarks, a 2018 survey of public servants by StatsCan revealed that a mere 46% of public servants believe that staffing activities within their work units are carried out in a fair manner. In other words, more than half of the respondents indicated that appointments for positions in our organizations “depend on who you know”.
Having dealt with many staffing complaints ourselves, we can certainly understand why public servants would think that. Not only is the system not delivering the results it's supposed to, but it also takes far too long to deliver these unsatisfactory results, which means higher costs. Staffing processes routinely take months at a time to complete, when the competition for talent has never been higher. If we want to continue to recruit the best and brightest into our public service, 12-month turnaround times simply won't do. We've confused process with rigour. The end result is an inefficient and ineffective system. It's not working. It's not working for us. It's not working for managers. It's certainly not working for Canadians.
I want to use my time today to highlight some of the less obvious impacts of our broken staffing system. First, I want to talk about the overreliance on contractors and consultants. We know from first-hand experience that one reason managers contract out work is that they don't have the time it takes to staff positions. We hear this from our members and we hear it from executives. The truth is that it's easier to tender a contract than to hire an employee even when the work is part of the core mandate. Our members have the competencies, knowledge, experience and eagerness to do the job, but the staffing process takes too long.
The cost of this abuse of the contracting system goes far beyond the exorbitant day rates that many of these contractors charge. Contractors and consultants aren't bound by the same ethics code that public servants must adhere to. Their work isn't always subject to access to information laws. People working in these contract roles aren't given the same protection under our whistle-blower protection regime. The public sector integrity commissioner isn't able to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by contractors the same way he can investigate public servants. In short, contract work lacks the accountability standards that are critical to ensuring that the public good is being served. It also inhibits the ability of members of Parliament like you to exercise your vital oversight role.
The overuse of contractors also means that we aren't investing in our internal capacity and developing the public servants who have committed their careers to serving Canadians. Instead, money is spent building the experience and capabilities of private corporations and individuals. We not only don't develop institutional knowledge, but we also outsource it. This leads to longer-term dependencies on these very consultants, feeding into the vicious cycle of outsourcing. I want to be clear that there are good reasons to use consultants from time to time, but using them as a workaround to inefficient staffing processes is not one of them.
Another impact is the rise in the use of unadvertised job competitions. This is where the staffing process is bypassed by bringing in someone who is deemed “best fit”. This undermines the very goals of the staffing system and reinforces the belief that public sector hiring is about who you know, not what you know. As with contracting out, there are times when unadvertised competitions are necessary. They are a useful tool for exceptional circumstances. However, they should not be used to circumvent a broken staffing system.
These are just a few of the impacts of our current staffing system. I know that my colleagues at this table and other witnesses you'll hear from will have many more to share as well. In my remaining time, I'd like to offer two suggestions that we believe will go a long way to making things better.
First, the staffing system should be moved into the collective bargaining process, as it is in almost every other jurisdiction in Canada. Staffing is excluded by legislation that likely violates the charter right to collective bargaining, yet you would be hard pressed to find a less efficient or more costly staffing regime in this country. Making staffing part of collective bargaining would give the employees, through their unions, an ownership stake in the process. It would also allow the government to tap into the collective knowledge of the groups using a process that already exists and serves our needs well.
Second, contractors and consultants should be made to abide by the same ethics and accountability rules as public servants. This wouldn't just level the playing field between staffing and contracting out. It would ensure you can carry out your oversight role and help ensure public trust in the system.
I realize this committee has many witnesses to hear from so I'll end my remarks there, but I look forward to any questions you might have. I'd like to finish by saying on behalf of ACFO, thank you for carrying out this important study.
That's a very good question.
Recruitment and retention is an issue. Take the example of one of our typical members who has just recently graduated and is a CPA. We want to attract the best and the brightest and they're looking for a job in the public sector, and all of a sudden it will take four months, six months, 12 months. They're not going to wait that long. They need a job right now. They need one to gather the experience. What we're seeing right now is that people are going to private sector firms because they can make you an offer within a week. They'll do an interview. They'll like what they see, have a couple of tests, and there you go. You have a job.
Can one of our members as an accountant have a potential career path to a CFO? Absolutely. There's a model, a way to get you there, but you want to make sure you have the skill sets, the experience and the competencies before you reach that certain level, and right now, because of staffing processes based on who you know, you might not have that opportunity. For example, if I need to have more managerial experience and I want to gain that experience, I apply for a position but unfortunately, because of the staffing process the way it is, I might not have that opportunity to gain that job, because I didn't know enough people.
Specifically for accountants, sometimes their networking skills aren't the best, so they don't know who to talk to. I can tell my own members, and I will tell them, that they need to go out there and do word of mouth, do activities, take part in volunteer work, anything to get their names out there, because unfortunately, the staffing system is broken. We're trying to make it work better but in the meantime, they have to do their best career path the way they can.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's a pleasure to be at your committee.
In my region of Timmins—James Bay, we are fortunate to have excellent civil servants in the public service in Timmins and in the veterans building in Kirkland Lake.
We've been here for half an hour, and my colleagues across the table haven't mentioned the words “middle class” yet. I just want to put that on the record, because they never get up in the morning without saying “middle class and those wanting to join it”.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Charlie Angus: These are good middle-class jobs, but one of the problems with good middle-class jobs under the federal government is that they're being undermined by precarious work.
Mr. Aylward, I really noticed your talk about precarious work.
We have people who go to university and train up and who want to be civil servants, and yet they're in this perpetual pool of contract or temp work without benefits.
Have you seen an increase in the use of precarious work in the federal civil service? How has it grown, and how has it changed?
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to speak today at the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.
My name is Greg Phillips. I'm the president of the Canadian Association of Professional Employees, otherwise known as CAPE. CAPE represents approximately 15,000 economists, policy analysts, translators and interpreters—such as those people behind the window who defend Canada's linguistic duality. We also represent the amazing analysts at the Library of Parliament—some of whom are here today—and the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
For many years, our membership has raised issues with respect to the staffing process, including its fairness and transparency. These two core principles are at the heart of my message tonight.
Of course, there are aspects of the process that do work very well. I will not be delving into those today. I would rather spend our time today discussing what we would like to see fixed.
I intend to focus on four main areas: improvement to fairness and recourse mechanisms, length of time to run processes, arbitrary language requirements coupled with no funding for language training, and unbalanced and unfair use of geographic area of selection.
Regarding fairness in the staffing process and the recourse mechanisms, the process itself is neither transparent nor easy to understand for our members. For example, it is often unclear why a person has been screened out of a process. Mechanisms available to employees to get those answers, especially in the informal discussion process, are often ignored or carried out in a hasty manner. It has resulted in a deep distrust of the process. Despite that, employees remain fearful to speak out or file a complaint, in that they may be labelled as difficult.
On the issue of management's accountability for their decisions in the staffing process, the extremely limited grounds for challenging staffing decision has led to a cynicism amongst the employees in the process and a feeling that managers cannot and will not be held accountable.
Finally, when a staffing decision is successfully challenged, the recourse is minimal and the position is usually already filled.
Regarding the length of time it takes to run a process, the system itself is cumbersome and complex, which results in multiple delays. The changes to the PSEA have not led to a faster hire process as was envisioned under the new legislation many years ago. We have heard from many of our members that staffing actions take too long. It can be even worse for external processes. When competing with the private sector for the best and the brightest, this can be seen as a very significant barrier and a detriment to the public service as a whole.
Even in the case where an employee is offered a position, the additional time it takes to verify or conduct a security clearance, and/or verify or conduct language tests often results in a loss of our best candidates. We submit that this process requires more staff and more funding.
The overall result of the length of time it takes to run one process means that hiring managers are constantly looking for workarounds to the system in order to obtain their candidate of choice. This means that hiring decisions are often open to abuse, and the system becomes about who you know, rather than who is the best person for the job.
Regarding the language requirements, the feedback from our members has consistently demonstrated that more and more positions are being arbitrarily assigned a higher language requirement without any justification for doing so. This is not just an issue for the employees who do not meet the level, but also for hiring managers who cannot fill the positions with qualified candidates.
Besides ensuring that positions are correctly evaluated for the language requirement needed for for the duties of the position, the single biggest complaint we hear is that no funding is available for second language training. It is logical to conclude that if there is an increase in bilingual imperative positions, there must also be a corresponding increase in training and funding to meet this need. However, we are certainly not seeing this, particularly in the professional categories. This presents the possibility that someone exceedingly more qualified for the job does not get it, while someone who simply meets the bare minimum requirements obtains the job because they were fortunate enough to have access to language training early in their career. This concern also has an impact on priority entitlements, including veterans, who are often unable to meet that one requirement.
Regarding the arbitrary use of geographic areas of selection, the area of selection, or AOS, chosen for each competition is often unbalanced and unfair. It appears chosen to both ease the work requirement for the competitions—fewer applicants mean less work for the competition—as well as to minimize relocation expenditures.
This is a public service that represents all Canadians. Regional office job competitions are typically open to everyone across the country, but the jobs, often the better and higher-profile jobs, in the national capital region are limited to just those working in the national capital region. In today's day and age, with the technological advances open to us, geographic distance should not be a limiting factor in selecting the best candidate for the job.
As such, it is our submission that unless there is a reasonable justification for not opening up the job competition to the broader population, the AOS should be as expansive as possible, so that we are obtaining the best and most representative candidates to reflect the Canadian population.
Having set out many of our concerns, it is useful to briefly discuss some possible solutions.
Regardless of what is implemented or changed, my first recommendation is that it be done following proper consultation with the bargaining agents. This means consultation from the ground up on changes and improvements to the PSEA and any staffing policies. This will not only result in a better outcome and buy-in, but will achieve the goal of harmonious labour relations and effective joint problem-solving.
My second recommendation is consistency for competitions across departments, including increased funding for more regular auditing of all departments, not just for a select few each year, in addition to consistency in how the process of applying language requirements or geographic area of selection is carried out. Increased funding for auditing departments will be a big step towards greater consistency and fairness.
My third recommendation is increased funding for, and access to, training for staff advisers, so hiring managers can receive prompt and correct advice and assistance with their competitions.
Regarding training for second language requirements, if we are changing positions to require a language profile of CBC, for example, we need to make sure there are qualified candidates available and funds for language training. If not, the positions either remain empty or are staffed by assignments, which have more flexible requirements than the particular language requirement of the position. Overuse of assignments results in a cascade of staff in acting assignments rather than permanent positions. In the long term, this has the effect of wasting both time and money.
The fourth recommendation is that, rather than pushing managers to return money to their budgets, the process allow them to staff at their appropriate levels. Often the pressure to reduce the budget or return money at the end of each fiscal quarter, coupled with the daunting task of running a long staffing process, results in managers asking staff to do excess work. This has a cascading effect in that staff become burned out or move to greener pastures, thus compounding the staffing difficulties.
Fifth and finally, our members have been very concerned about the outsourcing of the public service employee survey, which was talked about earlier today. We know it is best carried out by Statistics Canada, a world-renowned statistical agency. The results of this survey are critical to an exceptional public service. CAPE staunchly opposes the contracting out of this valuable HR tool, a tool that both management and unions have relied on for a very long time.
On a Phoenix side note, due to the fact that transferring files and changing positions is creating additional pay problems, many staff are not applying to competitions for fear of causing issues in their pay. This is not necessarily part of a problem with the staffing process per se, but it is worth mentioning to the committee, as stories of these decisions are common.
The public service has become accustomed to avoiding risk. However, all risk can be managed, and without some risk, innovation and improvement become impossible. Investing in staffing will not only have an impact on the resources required for the process itself, but also improve the morale, quality of work and resolve of the public service as a whole.
Good afternoon. Thanks so much for inviting me to speak at this important hearing.
My name is Debi Daviau, and I am the president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. PIPSC is Canada's largest union of professionals, working predominantly for the federal government.
Mr. Chair, that includes the fine gentleman to your left. We're just pointing out our members in the room today. Collectively, we represent all your staff, so....
Voices: Oh, oh!
Ms. Debi Daviau: We welcome the opportunity to participate, along with my colleagues from other unions, as part of this panel to discuss the current state of the public service hiring process. Canadians rely on public services every day to make their lives safer, healthier and more prosperous. Our members are the ones who provide those services.
What we see and hear from our members is that the staffing process simply takes too long. As a result, resources can't meet the demands. Services suffer and managers turn to short-term solutions that often increase the government's overreliance on outsourcing. We want staffing to be merit-based, but we also need it to be timely.
The federal government's staffing recruitment process is lengthy and cumbersome, often taking six months to a year, and even longer sometimes. It is slow due to administrative delays over sequential security clearances and bottlenecks when it comes to screening and interviewing processes, with delays and time wasted. While there have been some attempts to solve these issues through the use of new platforms, e-recruitment and increased flexibility, from talking to anyone who has gone through the process on the ground lately, it doesn't appear that much has changed.
As you may know, the government often uses what are referred to as pools for staffing. Candidates have to go through a hiring process to be included in a pool that qualifies them for a position at that classification and level. Then, when the department needs to fill a position at that level, they can draw from the pool. Getting your name in a pool can be a long and burdensome process, and may not even result in a job in your near future. Kevin Lynch, the former clerk of the Privy Council, noted that the federal government will not be successful in recruiting Canada's best talent if we cling to slow and bureaucratic hiring processes—and it's been a while since Kevin was there.
Access to timely recourse is also a major sticking point in staffing, with most federal Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board hearings—even the name is too long—taking in excess of 24 months to be heard, with decisions taking an additional six months to a year to be rendered. By then, revocation of the appointment may already be moot. Some findings may have no more than a symbolic effect if they are not precedent setting.
I say this not just for the sake of the individual enduring the staffing process—if they stick around long enough—but for the government and the country as a whole. When staffing processes are too long and cumbersome, departments and managers will look elsewhere. They may very well opt instead to use their operations and maintenance budget to staff temporarily.
Staffing, amongst other reasons, is why we are seeing an overreliance on outsourcing and contracting out. We represent close to 60,000 public service professionals. One of the main issues our members have been facing is the government's overreliance on outsourcing. Outsourcing is costing the federal government money, jobs, morale, accountability and productivity. Just look at the failed Phoenix pay system.
Okay, I went there too.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Ms. Debi Daviau: Instead of looking to the government's own workforce, to those who built and maintained a pay system that worked for 40 years, the government left the project in the hands of a multinational corporation. Public service employees have now endured over two and half years of being underpaid, overpaid and not paid at all due to this wrong-headed decision.
The federal government currently spends an estimated $12 billion a year on outsourced services, more than the budgets of Statistics Canada, Health Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada, the National Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission combined.
No official—or public, at least—estimate exists of the total number of outsourced federal government workers who constitute what has been styled a “shadow” public service. Nearly half of all PIPSC members who were surveyed in 2015 said they were aware of contractors in their team or work unit, and 59% said contracts in their team or work unit are routinely renewed. That means folks continue to go from contract to contract as opposed to being hired as employees. Forty-one per cent reported contractors present for periods between one to five years, and 17% reported contractors being present for over 10 years.
We've identified a number of sources at the root of the government's outsourcing problem. One of them is staffing. The Public Service Commission carried out a survey of staffing: 63.4% of managers surveyed believed staffing is not quick enough; 25% of managers indicated staffing options don't allow them to staff quickly; 85% of managers indicated that the administrative process to staff positions is burdensome; and 55% indicated that this process was burdensome to a great extent.
Over a prolonged decade of government restraint and growing demand for government services, overreliance on contractors to do the work of public service professionals has taken its toll on employees and on the government's own employment requirements. Many of the downsides have been known for years. A 2010 study by the Public Service Commission provided telling evidence that the government's managers were misusing outsourcing provisions and circumventing the hiring practices set out in the Public Service Employment Act. The PSEA exists to ensure staffing in government agencies is guided by principles such as merit, integrity, transparency, regional and ethnic diversity, and bilingualism.
As a result of contracting out, a separate workforce now exists within the public service. Thousands of jobs are contracted out for long, continuous periods of time, but those performing them are neither subject to nor protected by the PSEA. The delays in the staffing process become an excuse for outsourcing. Outsourcing ends up undermining the principles that the PSEA is designed to uphold. We need to reverse this trend and invest in HR processes to speed up hiring without compromising PSEA standards
As I said at the beginning of my presentation, the process takes too long. We want to have a merit-based system, and we want it to be a lot faster. That's why we propose the following recommendations to the committee:
One, we need to enforce the requirement that new government projects and initiatives consider their staffing and human resource needs right from the start. Training, staffing and recruiting for a new project needs to happen at the beginning of project development. These processes can take time if existing staff need to be trained, subject-matter experts drawn from other parts of the public service, and new employees brought in to tackle new workloads. Taking these steps early on in the process will ultimately save the government money down the road. Managers will not be forced to go outside to contractors and temporary help agencies because they need people quickly. We cannot start the assessment of staffing and human resource needs after procurement and project scoping is complete. We need to start these processes early if we don't want to continue to rely on costly outside contractors to do the work that could have been done by in-house, highly trained public service professionals.
Two, we'd like to ensure that there's access to the skills already on deck in departments and agencies. The government needs to create skills inventories and a mechanism for departments to access them even in the short term. The government has, for example, over 13,000 IT workers in their employment, making them the largest IT employer in the country. The government needs to be doing a better job at getting all it can from this highly skilled and highly motivated workforce. Again, relying on in-house resources will ultimately save the government a lot of money in the long run.
Three, create government-wide hiring pools of public service employees for all departments to draw from. If pools are departmental-specific, individual departments feel ownership over their pool as they have invested time and resources into its creation. They're understandably often unwilling to share, and sadly, pools sometimes expire before being fully drawn from. Government-wide hiring pools would also help to create a standardized hiring process that doesn't vary from department to department. This is a recommendation we have already raised with the Treasury Board.
I thank the members of this committee for the opportunity to discuss with you the public service hiring process and share with you our recommendations for an improved system that we believe will work better for all Canadians.