This chapter presents the review team's findings with respect to the HR Operating Principles, those principles being

Accountability:

Answerability for carrying out responsibilities in accordance with our HR values and operating principles.

Efficiency:

Making the best possible use of human, time and financial resources.

Effectiveness:

Achieving the expected results

Consistency:

Acting in a similar manner in similar circumstances.

Adaptability:

Adjusting to circumstances while encouraging innovation and creativity.

Simplicity:

Making things as uncomplicated as possible.

Openness:

Ensuring straightforward and honest communication.

7.1 Accountability

The review team finds:

That the use of HR principles and operating values as an accountability mechanism is well entrenched in Parks Canada. We found that the consideration of HR values and principles has gained much "traction" as a key part of collective and individual management decision-making and that generally the use of HR principles and operating values have become well entrenched at middle and senior management levels of the organization. We find the acceptance and implementation of values and operating principles as an accountability tool to be even more pronounced in decision review processes where contentious decisions are subjected to ex post facto scrutiny. We found among HR professionals that the values and principles serve as a constant reference point in the development of policies, the design of HR programs, and in the application and implementation of policies and programs. At the employee level, we found that employees routinely use the HR values and operating principles to hold their supervisors and managers to account for their decisions and actions. For example, we found that the Agency has embedded accountability in its Accountability Framework for People Management and we found that the conduct of the Parks Canada Employee Survey to be an exercise in accountability. On the other hand, while the use of values and principles as accountability mechanism may be well-accepted "accountability" itself as a principle is not yet fully entrenched. For example, the single greatest indicator that work remains to be done on "accountability" is that a comprehensive and consistently applied performance management process is not universally in place in the Agency.

7.2 Efficiency

The review team finds:

That the Agency fully embraces the principle of efficiency (i.e., making best possible use of human, time and financial resources). Whether it does so as a matter of principle or by virtue of necessity is a moot point. We find the organization to be cost conscious and extremely careful in investing its human and financial resources. When the Agency was set up as a stand alone organization, it was not able to bring with it sufficient corporate HR staff or corporate HR systems and it was not funded to build the corporate HR infrastructure that a stand-alone organization requires. Additionally, on-going program funding shortages mean that the organization must continue to be careful in investing its human and financial resources. Further development of the HR regime could mean diverting resources that would otherwise be directed to the delivery of services to the public and to the presentation and preservation of historical and natural assets. For this reason, it appears to the review team that many corporate HR functions are "thinly" staffed in comparison with comparable functions in other organizations outside of the Agency. Consequently, the Agency has not been able to develop it HR regime as fully or as quickly as it might have wished. Compensating for this perhaps, the review team noted an exceptionally high and generous investment of senior executive time and involvement in discussing and setting HR priorities, and in the planning, development and roll out of HR policies and programs. To the review team, this demonstrates commitment by the Agency to efficiency in making the maximum investment that it can make within its limited resources to develop its HR regime.

7.3 Effectiveness

The review team finds:

That there is little basis on which to comment definitively on "effectiveness" (achieving the expected results) as much of the HR regime has only recently been implemented, or is in the planning stages, or is now in the process of roll-out (including HR strategic framework, learning and development, orientation, alternative dispute resolution, national classification review, etc.) It does however appear to the review team the Agency has been highly effective where it has been able to invest time and attention in the development of its HR regime (e.g., Occupational Health and Safety, Employee Orientation Program). In these areas, feedback that this review examined from Agency members has been extremely positive. The exception is the National Classification Review that has been cited by management and staff alike as unduly slow and problematic. The review team however understands the extenuating circumstances that have affected the National Classification Review (i.e., the need to replace the Universal Classification System as the job evaluation plan and delays occasioned by the recent public service wide freeze on salary changes through reclassification).

7.4 Consistency

"Consistency" is defined as acting in a similar manner in similar circumstances. It is not within the mandate of this review to question the Agency's choice of values or principles but perhaps we might be allowed the following obiter dictum: To our way of thinking, "consistency" is an outcome rather than a principle. Consistency does not guide or inform the behaviour of either the individual or the collective; rather it is the product of a well developed policy framework, and the result of the application of processes and precedent. As we said earlier in this report, to have meaning in the world of work, values and principles require context and circumstance, and their application requires the exercise of judgement and interpretation by people involved. Inevitably, circumstance and judgement introduce variability (inconsistency) in actual results as well as variability (inconsistency) in how those involved perceive the results. In our opinion, variability and differences in results (even in similar circumstances) will naturally occur, are to be expected and in any event, are unavoidable. We would be concerned if "consistency" (acting in a similar manner in similar circumstances) were to override adaptability (which could be defined as thinking and acting in new and innovative ways in old and familiar circumstances). We would also be concerned if "consistency" were to replace judgement and discretion in decision-making, even in similar circumstances. "Consistency", like "fairness," is made conspicuous by its absence, not by its presence.

Having said this, the review finds:

That the Agency does strive to be consistent in the development and application of its HR regime and that it makes efforts, "to act in a similar manner in similar circumstances." This is evident in several ways. The most notable effort to achieve consistency is the National Classification Review the purpose of which is to bring national consistency to the structure, organization and valuing of work across the Agency. The Agency also seeks to achieve consistency in its HR regime through adoption of an HR Strategic Framework that brings consistent and integrated direction to the development and implementation of HR policies and programs. The HR policy framework itself is a major tool used to achieve consistency. The Agency also works to achieve consistency through it various decision review and dispute resolution processes, a principle objective of which consistency in decisions in similar circumstances. The Agency works to achieve consistency through the collection and application of precedent in such areas as labour relations. Through various recognition and communications vehicles (awards, newsletters, intranet site), Agency leadership communicates a consistent message about what is important and what the Agency values. Lastly, through orientation and training and various other learning initiatives both local and national, the Agency reinforces consistency.

7.5 Adaptability

Adaptability is defined as "Adjusting to circumstances while encouraging innovation and creativity" The review finds:

That the results for "Adaptability" are mixed. Parks Canada has taken advantage of Agency status to re-engineer its staffing and resourcing processes and to adapt them to its requirements (e.g. adaptations such as competence as opposed to merit, changes in the concept of area of competition, etc). And the Agency has consolidated grievance and appeals processes where possible (e.g., ITPR).

However, the ability of the Agency to innovate in collective bargaining and to develop terms and conditions of employment tailored to the needs of the Agency is limited and constrained by the requirement to have its bargaining mandates approved by the Treasury Board, by its need to maintain comparability to the core public service, and by the requirement that the Agency self-fund the costs of any new terms and conditions of employment that represent significant departures from terms and conditions of employment that prevail in the core public service. The review finds that the constraints on the Agency's ability to bargain place it at a severe disadvantage in exercising the principle of "adaptability" .

7.6 Simplicity

"Simplicity" is defined as making things as uncomplicated as possible. The review finds:

That the Agency has consistently worked at achieving simplicity and has been highly successful in streamlining many aspects of it HR regime. The most noteworthy achievement in "simplification" has been the unification of employee representation under a single bargaining agent (Public Service Alliance of Canada) within two components (Transport Component and National Component of PSAC). This represents a vast reduction in administrative complexity compared to the multiple bargaining agent, multiple bargaining unit environment that existed in Parks Canada prior to it becoming an Agency. As previously discussed, the Agency has also made significant progress in unwinding the administrative complexities of the staffing processes that it was formerly obliged to follow when Parks Canada was part of the core public service. Also as previously discussed, the Agency has made significant process in simplifying, consolidating, and in some case "informalizing" it dispute resolution processes (e.g., introduction of Alternative Dispute Resolution, Independent Third Party Review).

7.7 Openness

Openness is defined as ensuring straightforward and honest communication. Note that the Agency incorporates "honest" in its definition of "openness". This being the case, the review team believes that there is a strong correlation between "openness" and "trust". The review found that that the Agency has structures in place to facilitate open communication and dialogue (like the Parks Canada Employee Survey), and has mechanisms to ensure an honest review of decisions (e.g., labour management consultation, ITPR, and Alternative Dispute Resolution). But we found that many employees do not perceive these processes lead to real openness.

The Parks Canada Employee Survey reports that "employees' general trust in the organization to treat them fairly is not very high, both overall and in comparison to the Public Service (by 20 per cent, the largest single difference between Parks Canada and the Public Service)."The survey goes on to state that "perceived openness to employee feedback are much weaker areas".

If "openness" is tied to "trust", as the review team believes it to be, then there is work yet to be done in implementing this principle. The Parks Canada Employee Survey reports that only "two-thirds (65 per cent)... trust Parks Canada to treat them fairly".

This concludes our review of the consistency of the Agency's human resources regime with the Agency's values and principles.

The appendix that follows lists the names and titles of persons in Parks Canada who were interviewed for the purposes of this review. This list does not include the names of participants in the focus groups conducted as part of this review.