This is an update about the ongoing changes to the DS Salary Administration System.
PIPSC pushed the employer to fix issues with the SAS and worked with employer representatives to recommend solutions. Unfortunately there was a lengthy break in that engagement, followed by a last minute flurry of revisions by management that ultimately could not be launched on time for this year’s cycle.
For background, the Joint DND-PIPSC Committee on the DS Pay Plan and SAS made a number of recommendations, some of which committed the parties to future work. As can be seen in this agreement, “the parties agree that continuing work referred to herein will be conducted and tracked through the DS Career Development Consultation Committee (DSCDCC)... The parties further agree that, at least in the short term, the frequency of DSCDCC meetings will need to increase and its membership be expanded to expeditiously complete the outstanding work.”
However, exactly in the period where work was most needed, management cut the membership, and only held one additional meeting. The majority of the revisions were done in management-only working groups, and only shared with PIPSC late in the process.
Our position on the changes
One of the agreed recommendations (R-7) was to consolidate the existing indicators into 4 characteristics, and add a new ‘service’ indicator – both of which better align us with the processes for other RE Group members.
While the draft high level definitions were agreed upon in June 2022, we did not see a complete draft of the revised indicators until 2 May 2023, at which point we raised many concerns both about the content and the timing. The recommendations stated that the indicators were to be revised at the DSCDCC and complete for 1 April 2023, to allow the maximum amount of time being cycles for people to adapt.
Starting in late February we told management clearly that if the changes were not consulted and finalized soon they should be delayed until the next cycle to allow time to prepare appropriate communication products and other supporting materials.
However, management continued to press ahead, even as the indicators themselves were not finalized until mid-summer. Senior management’s insistence as late as early September that they would implement all the changes for this cycle created a flurry of work for middle managers and union representatives, but ultimately what we had predicted from the beginning happened: there was not enough time to get documents translated and formally approved by human resources.
While PIPSC supports the general underlying reasons for making several of the changes, we are disappointed that in the version management intended to launch, the spirit of other intended changes seemed to have been lost. For example:
- Item J regarding “the assignment of new types of duties to DS” meant that the committee was to consider the situation of DS in program and other headquarters jobs who have challenges with career development. This was to include reviewing the indicators and considering whether elements of the science and management stream indicators could be merged to reflect this type of role. Management declined to consider a blending of the streams, and the revised science stream indicators continue to place a heavy emphasis on publication and peer review that we know creates difficulties for DS in these roles.
- While a Gender-Based Analysis review was not explicitly part of the committee’s task, equity and diversity issues were discussed at length. We are concerned that despite our raised concerns, there remains a strong emphasis on not just individual leadership and accomplishment, but how one is perceived or recognized as a leader. We believe that the phrasing of many of these indicators is prone to bias in evaluation, and also that an over-emphasis on the role of the individual is detrimental to positive relations in the team and project models in which DS normally work.
- Despite the ongoing resource challenges around travel in particular, management has refused to moderate the emphasis on international meeting participation in the indicators. Language such as “occasional presentations to national or international groups are insufficient evidence” remains, and to even maintain one’s state of professional development at DS-05 and above continued international representational roles are expected. While international engagement will remain an important part of our program and career development, it is worth discussing whether the current language detrimentally impacts members whose work or personal situations do not lend themselves to international participation.
- At the June 2023 DSCDCC we were also presented with potential changes to the publication categories, which would impact not only publication listings but the ability of DS, managers and Career Progression Committee (CPC) to interpret the indicators on balanced publication records. While the changes were motivated by real issues that need to be resolved - particularly conflicts over the peer-review status of conferences - we believe the changes as designed would move the problem without necessarily solving it. We did not see a revision to the publication list Annex until the end of August, and raised multiple potential concerns, which we have yet to have a real response to. While one of the stated goals of revising the categories was to provide “clarity” to authors, not specifying the peer review status of documents in either the publications process or the publication list can only further impair interpretation of a “balanced” publication record, leaving the assessment open to subjectivity and bias.
- Recommendation R-5 was to discuss changes to the CPC membership and one of potential factors was increasing senior science stream participation, as fewer and fewer of the Directors General traditionally forming the bulk of the committee have a research background generally, or in defence research specifically. We do not believe the changes coming to the CPC structure have adequately addressed this concern. Rather than include more senior scientists and fewer managers in the committees, additional representatives are being added from other parts of the department.
Overall, we are concerned with the level of change and the rushed manner in which it was developed.
There are positive elements to many of the changes, and we believe it is worth taking the time to create materials not just giving the new indicators and processes, but explaining why those changes were made.
As your PIPSC representatives who signed off on the 2022 recommendations, in several cases we are having trouble seeing how the final changes flow from the original intent of those recommendations, and whether some recommendations have been addressed at all.
No matter what, PIPSC will do its best to assist individual members in navigating this process, but ideally management would re-engage with us to develop changes that represent the concerns of all DS.