On August 29, 2019, the Auditor General released the Public Agency Board Member Recruitment and Selection report to the Members of the Legislative Assembly.

The audit examined the Government of Alberta’s recruitment, screening, selection and appointment processes, as described in the Guidebook for Appointments to Alberta’s Public Agencies, and the principles of the Public Agencies Governance Framework.

Auditor General Doug Wylie says processes to recruit, select and appoint individuals to public agencies, boards and commissions are not consistently followed across government, and can be enhanced to be more effective and efficient.

“We found in many cases the appointment processes we examined followed the steps outlined in guidebook and adhered to the framework,” Wylie said. “However, we also found that these appointment processes were not followed consistently by all departments.”

For example:

  • Open competitions were held for the reappointment of incumbent candidates rather than the efficient reappointment process described in the guidebook.
  • Appointments did not occur in a timely manner, and some boards had multiple vacancies for longer than six months.
  • In some cases, there was a lack of evidence on how the skills, specialized knowledge, experience and attributes described in position profiles were used to decide who was appointed.

Wylie stated consistent and effective processes to recruit and select sufficiently experienced and skilled individuals to govern Alberta’s public agencies is crucial to ensure the delivery of the programs and services these organizations provide.

“Public agencies manage and administer almost 50 per cent of the province’s budget,” Wylie said.
If public board members do not have the right skills and experience to provide effective oversight, it can impact how well programs and services are delivered to Albertans.

In his report, he recommends the Public Agency Secretariat:

  • Improve the use of succession plans and reappointments
  • Improve guidance to departments on the use of professional recruitment services
  • Strengthen the recruitment, screening and selection processes followed by departments to improve assessment of candidate competencies and conflicts of interest
  • Improve its information systems to monitor processes to track competitions and appointments across government

The audit looked at the processes for board recruitment and selection between July 2017 and February 2019. The audit was completed and recommendations were presented to management of the Alberta Public Service Commission, which oversees the Public Agency Secretariat, in July of 2019.

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