Audit of Temporary Help Services

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Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Introduction

Temporary help services (THS) are services that are provided by the resources of temporary help firms. The THS On-Line System is an on-line procurement tool designed by Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) to assist federal departments in the National Capital Area, in their procurement of temporary help services up to $400K (which includes all subsequent amendments, travel/living expenses, overtime and GST/HST) or 48 consecutive weeks, whichever comes first. A call-up/contract can be extended by an additional 24 consecutive weeks with the approval of PWGSC.

There are two components to the THS On-Line System: a Standing Offer (SO) and a Supply Arrangement (SA).  At Transport Canada (TC), functional authority for contracting rests with Corporate Management’s contracting unit.  However, authority to enter into THS contracts using either the SO or the SA has been delegated to responsibility centre managers under their Low Dollar Value signing authority. 

Over the last four years (FY 2008/09 ‑ FY 2011/12), 244 responsibility centres in the National Capital Region (NCR) have managed 1,731 THS contracts for a total of $65M in expenditures.  From FY 2008/09 ‑ FY 2010/11, THS contracts represented approximately nine percent of Professional Services contracts per the Public Accounts.

Audit Objectives & Scope

The purpose of this audit was to assess the effectiveness of controls over the use of the THS On-Line System and to provide assurance as to the extent to which those controls are respected.  The audit also looked at trends in the use of THS to determine potential opportunities for greater efficiency.

Since 98% ($65M) of THS expenditures from FY 2008/09 – FY 2011/12 were spent in the NCR, this audit focused only on THS expenditures in the NCR.

Conclusions

Overall, the audit found that governance priorities and controls regarding the use of THS contracts would benefit from significant improvements (see Appendix A for complete conclusion scale with definitions).

It is only since the creation of the Senior Procurement Review Committee (SPRC) in December 2011 that there has been any challenge and oversight of THS use in the Department.  The SPRC plays a limited challenge as to whether or not a responsibility centre manager’s need for professional services resources should be met through the contracting of the resource or through other means such as permanent or temporary staffing arrangements.  Once the SPRC agrees with the responsibility centre manager’s request to enter into a contract for professional services, there is no further challenge or oversight of THS contracting, either by the SPRC or by contracting staff.

The appropriateness of delegating THS contracting authority to responsibility centre managers has not been reassessed since THS limits were increased in 2008 from $89K to $400K. There would be merit in reviewing these delegations in the context of risk and expenditure controls.  There would also be merit in reviewing the SPRC role with respect to THS contracts.

Finally, the audit found that the control framework needs to be strengthened to:

  • reduce the high volume of financial system coding errors being made.  (It was noted that recent changes to the department’s financial system will also help reduce coding errors and improve the accuracy of reporting.);
  • ensure contracted resources meet the minimum requirements of the position (stream and classification) as stipulated by PWGSC;
  • ensure a THS contract is the most cost-effective and appropriate vehicle to obtain required resources and to complete the work required; and
  • ensure complete file documentation is being maintained.

The ADM, Corporate Management and Crown Corporation Governance with the support of the DG, Finance and Administration, should:

  • conduct a full risk assessment, keeping in mind the results of this audit, to determine the Department’s acceptable risk tolerance, and to guide decisions regarding THS delegation, contracting authority and controls required to support that delegation;
  • determine the appropriate level of ongoing oversight and monitoring over the use of THS contracting, commensurate with the level of risk identified in the risk assessment and accepted risk tolerance, to ensure proper usage of THS contacts and adherence to the various controls;
  • ensure complete and accurate reporting;
  • update directions and guidelines to address gaps identified in this audit, including the need for appropriate record keeping, and ensure managers are made aware of these;
  • ensure that those exercising THS contracting authority have access to a central area of expertise where they can obtain necessary advice and guidance; and
  • ensure that those exercising THS contracting authority have the appropriate training.

Statement of assurance/reliance

It is our professional judgment that the audit has been conducted in accordance with the Internal Auditing Standards of the Government of Canada as prescribed by the Comptroller General of Canada.  Satisfactory procedures for the audit have been conducted, and sufficient relevant evidence has been gathered to support the accuracy of the opinions provided in this report. 

Signatures

Signed by

 

Dave Leach (CIA) Director,
Audit and Advisory Services

October 2, 2012

 

Date

 

Signed by

Laura Ruzzier, Chief Audit Executive

October 2, 2012

 

Date

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