Archived: Response from Canadian Security Intelligence Service

From: Public Services and Procurement Canada

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Dear Mr. Wernick:

As requested in your letter received November 2, 2017, I am writing to provide you with an overview of the actions the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS or the ‘Service’) has taken to date and actions we plan to take in the future to help stabilize the pay system and ensure our employees are paid accurately and on time.

As you may know, given its security requirements, CSIS is a Direct Entry organization, which is one of the three HR-to-Pay service delivery models. As such, CSIS was fortunate to retain its dedicated and knowledgeable Pay Specialists. Our guiding principle from day one has been to mitigate the impact on employees. However, the implementation of Phoenix as the new pay system resulted in a significant increase in workload, with many new challenges, as the system was not designed to respond to all of the requirements of our organization. For example, CSIS pays various allowances to staff such as those deploying to dangerous operating environments and currently the Phoenix pay system is not properly designed to implement all of our allowances. This results in significant manual processing for our pay staff to ensure our employees are properly compensated and are not preoccupied about the stability of their pay.

Below we have outlined a list of actions the Service has taken to date to address the challenges faced with the Phoenix Pay System, organized according to the contribution themes provided in your letter.

Efforts to support HR-to-Pay government-wide initiatives

  • Allocation of a resource to test Phoenix full-time for several months before launch
  • Creation of an internal working group to facilitate the transition to Phoenix (included IT, Pay, HR, Finance, Communications)
  • Initiated the creation of an interdepartmental Direct Entry Working Group which conducts regular meetings to discuss challenges and share information / best practices
  • Targeted participation in Root Cause Analysis workshops (Interdepartmental Analysis Working Group) for Direct Entry requirements
  • Participation in the T4 Pilot Project (to ensure identity management issues addressed)
  • Participation in the project to develop the new Phoenix page ‘Create Pay Transactions’ to enable compensation advisors to input transactions directly in Phoenix, instead of on a one-time payment file
  • Participation in the interdepartmental working group to update Phoenix Pay Procedures (UPK)

Efforts to report on progress regarding HR-to-Pay stabilization priorities

  • Internal reporting on case files, back logs, etc.
  • Submission of data for departmental dashboards
  • Quarterly internal control reports produced by Finance
  • Bi-weekly participation in interdepartmental Information Support Services (ISS) calls where issues are raised to PSPC
  • Participation in two OAG audits on Phoenix
  • Regular liaison with PSPC, Phoenix Support Centres and the Miramichi Pay Centre to resolve issues

Efforts to inform managers and employees of developments

  • Intranet messages for managers and employees on Phoenix implementation and ongoing issues
  • Information sessions for employees on how to read their pay stubs
  • Direct contact with impacted employees to outline the issues and plans to resolve

Efforts to ensure Pay Staff and employees understand their role and responsibilities

  • Participation in Phoenix Train-the-Trainer sessions
  • Creation of a trainer position for CSIS Pay Staff
  • Creation of in-house Phoenix checklists and procedures for Direct Entry organizations; shared with other Direct Entry organizations
  • In-house Phoenix training – included CSE and FINTRAC
  • Coordination of OCHRO training for CSE, FINTRAC and CSIS at CSIS NHQ

Incorporation of HR-to-Pay practices (relative to s.33 transactions)

  • Work in collaboration with CSIS Finance section to identify and address payments in excess of $8,000 to avoid overpayments and underpayments (note: PSPC reports only amounts over $15,000)
  • Direct contact with impacted employees to make reasonable arrangements for correction of overpayments (or underpayments)

Ensure employees’ contact information is up-to-date

  • This does not apply to CSIS. Given our identity management requirements, there is no employee contact information in Phoenix. In these cases, our Pay Specialists update the information directly. For tax purposes, our Pay Specialists ensure the correct province is identified.

In addition to the items above, please find below a list of other efforts the Service has undertaken to manage the increased workload and address other challenges.

  • Due to lack of required level of security in Phoenix, CSIS developed its own database application to retain its overtime data to facilitate revision to overtime payments during a revision (e.g. replaced the XDP application in previous Regional Pay System)
  • Hiring of retired employees as casual staff to address backlogs and workload
  • Assignment of temporarily funded positions to address increased workload
  • Implemented peer verification of all pay transactions
  • Pay staff works considerable overtime
  • Trial and error testing of solutions to address issues unresolved by PSPC
  • Provision of salary advances to employees without pay
  • Issuance of standing advances to employees when over taxed on their pay

Moving forward, the Service will continue many of the activities noted above, in addition to supporting other upcoming GoC efforts, particularly as they relate to Direct Pay organizations. In light of this requirement, and given the challenges in hiring pay staff with a Top Secret security clearance in a short period of time, any efforts which can be made to prioritize some of the key requirements of Direct Pay organizations would be greatly appreciated.

Also of note, I have recently approved an economic increase for CSIS non-unionized employees, in line with the Core Public Administration. Unfortunately, the majority of this pay revision will need to be completed manually by the CSIS Pay Staff as Phoenix is not able to automate the rates of pay change or process the retro payments for post-conversion periods. This will represent a monumental level of effort, on top of the existing workload, and will further strain our limited Pay resources. While the Service has undertaken efforts to ensure incremental compensation for these resources in line with the rest of government, some relief is required in the form of resolution to outstanding issues impacting their day-to-day work.

I hope you will find this information useful in supporting the ongoing efforts to improve the stabilization of pay and would be pleased to provide additional information on issues directly related to the Service.


David Vigneault

c.c.  Minister, Public Safety
c.c.  Deputy Minister, Public Safety
c.c.  Associate Deputy Minister, Public Services and Procurement Canada
c.c.  Secretary of the Treasury Board
c.c.  Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office

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