Strategy to Reality: The 2008-2011 Strategic Plan
In providing its services, the Agency is committed to enhancing its communications and dialogue with clients and stakeholders, as well as improving its ability to identify and respond to their needs.
Obtaining feedback from clients
The Agency conducted client satisfaction surveys both in 2009-10 and 2010-11 in order to better understand its clients' needs and how its services could be improved. The results reveal that Agency clients and stakeholders have high degrees of satisfaction with its services. The Agency also got high marks for its professionalism and for ensuring its processes are well understood.
The surveys covered the following clients and stakeholders:
- Canada's main national rail, air and marine transportation service providers;
- Service providers who have been licensed or inspected by the Agency;
- Major associations representing industry, transportation users and persons with disabilities
- Individuals who used the Agency's dispute resolution services; and
- Individuals who contacted the Agency with general inquiries.
Base-line benchmarks established based on these first surveys will now help the Agency measure its performance and continually improve its service delivery. Given the valuable feedback they provide, the Agency plans to conduct client satisfaction surveys in the coming years.
Measures of satisfaction with Agency services related to serving the needs of users of, service providers within, and others affected by the national transportation system.
- Program to measure client satisfaction in place
- Benchmark surveys conducted in 2009-10 and 2010-11, reports released and targets set
What we are hearing
The survey results clearly demonstrate that the Agency has made improvements in meeting the targets set out in its priority for enhancing external relations. Executives from the transportation industry were generally satisfied with the level of dialogue they have with Agency executives and staff. They recognized that ongoing dialogue, both formal and informal, helps resolve minor concerns before they evolve into larger issues.
These positive results have confirmed that the Agency's commitment to open dialogue is worthwhile. The feedback we have received also tells us that we must be more proactive than ever in seeking input, especially before making significant changes to our regulations and processes.
In addition, the majority of respondents were satisfied with the clarity and accuracy of information provided by the Agency and with the fact that service was provided in the official language of their choice. The Agency launched a fully redesigned Web site in 2009 that got very positive feedback, although there were also suggestions for further improvement. In response, the Agency will continue to review the Web site to ensure that it uses clear, plain language and that the information is easy to access.
To further its priority on external relations, the Agency:
- Reported on its progress made over the past three years in meeting targets set out in the Agency's first-ever Performance Measurement Framework;
- Developed action plans to address the areas for improvement identified in the client satisfaction surveys;
- Held initial consultations to update the Air Transportation Regulations which cover how the Agency implements air transportation provisions of the Canada Transportation Act;
- Held working group sessions with the U.S. Department of Transportation to discuss matters of common interest, such as the implementation of the Montreal Convention, air carrier advertising of prices, and accessibility issues for persons with disabilities;
- Engaged in consultations as part of its efforts to modernize the Agency's regulatory regime, including the railway cost of capital methodology, interswitching rates and limited distribution tariffs; and
- Relaunched its popular publication Moving Ahead – formerly an annual print newsletter – in a more timely and efficient e-newsletter format.
Other key accomplishments since 2008:
- Issued publications to assist Canadians in resolving transportation-related disputes, such as Rail Noise and Vibration Complaints: Working together towards solutions;
- Published Take Charge of Your Travel, a new guide designed to help persons with disabilities plan their trips from start to finish; and
- Became one of the first federal government bodies to make publications available for download in DAISY format – a digital talking book that makes print publications accessible to persons who are blind or have a visual impairment.
Our Greatest Asset: People
The Agency employs more than 250 people with a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. Our workforce is made up of economists, engineers, lawyers, financial analysts, human resource and communications specialists, mediators, as well as case management, licensing and enforcement officers. Because the Agency is a relatively small entity within the public service, we work closely together – creating a tightly knit group that understands the far reaching effects of its work within and outside the Agency.
What's more, there is a strong sense of unity as diverse talents are often assembled into multi-disciplinary teams to tackle complex transportation matters. This unity greatly contributes to the Agency's effectiveness by establishing a collaborative and collegial atmosphere where each employee's contribution is sought and valued.
The Agency's five full-time Members are appointed by the Governor in Council. The Members are the quasi-judicial decision-makers within the Agency, and are responsible for rendering decisions and orders related to complaints or applications, as well as addressing other issues affecting Canada's federal transportation system.
In 2010-11, the Agency issued 2,253 rulings, virtually all of which required the involvement of Members of the Agency.
These rulings included:
- 613 orders;
- 518 decisions;
- 894 permits;
- 23 final letter decisions; and
- 205 interim decisions.
Maintaining our expertise and enhancing our internal relations
Any successful organization – in the public or private sector – well understands that its employees are its greatest asset.
At the outset of its 2008-2011 Strategic Plan, the Agency recognized that it faced the same demographic challenge confronting all government departments: the retirement of a significant portion of its staff. To meet this challenge, the Agency has made significant efforts to attract, motivate, and retain highly skilled, talented individuals.
Through initiatives like our succession planning process and employee-led working groups, the Agency intends to be seen as an employer of choice, known for offering a dynamic and positive work environment, challenging work, and career development opportunities.
Recruitment strategy implemented
- Agency Student Employment Program in place
- Pools of qualified candidates created through selection processes and used to fill vacancies
- Targeted recruitment mechanisms developed for specific types of positions
What we are hearing
Overall, clients and stakeholders surveyed over the past two years were positive in their assessment of Agency staff they interact with on a day-to-day basis.
Agency staff are perceived to be approachable, courteous, helpful, and flexible. About two-thirds of respondents indicated that Agency staff responded quickly to their request, that they were treated fairly, and that they were offered a variety of means to contact staff. Regulated stakeholders almost always characterized their interactions with Agency staff as being productive and positive.
Some stakeholders indicated that they are concerned about staff turnover and the potential for a loss of institutional memory. Ensuring that corporate knowledge and expertise are preserved in the Agency has been – and will continue to be – a key priority.
What our staff are saying
In 2008-09, employees responded to the Public Service Employee Survey and the Agency's own internal survey and consultations.
Overall, Agency staff felt that they have a good work-life balance and that the Agency fosters a supportive learning environment. The results were encouraging; however, a number of areas for improvement were identified, in particular in the areas of internal communications and human resources practices.
An Employee Working Group was formed by employees to engage all Agency staff in a consultative process to identify and recommend solutions. The Group made recommendations on four key action areas: recruitment and onboarding, feedback and career development, trust, and conflict resolution. The recommendations were approved by the Agency's Executive Committee and several have already been implemented; the rest are helping to shape the Agency's new 2011-2014 Strategic Plan and operational plans.
Succession plan in place
- Gap analysis and identification of key positions and Agency vulnerabilities in place
- Ensured that recruitment strategy and knowledge management activities addressed vulnerabilities
Knowledge management skills strategy implemented
- Generic competencies have been updated for all positions
- Pilot projects on knowledge management conducted to identify best practices
The Agency has taken the following actions in support of its priority on people and internal relations:
- Implemented a "communications and dialogue wheel" – a tool to foster more effective internal communications and dialogue by identifying possible channels, activities and the roles and responsibilities of different players;
- Ensured that all employees share a common performance objective to establish and maintain a respectful workplace, and attend related training;
- Launched a tailor-made training program for case officers and other staff involved in dispute resolution processes to enhance their knowledge and skills related to processing of cases and dispute resolution in general;
- Developed learning roadmaps for each employee level to be incorporated into the spring 2011 Employee Performance Review process and delivered courses for managers that link directly to their learning roadmaps;
- Continued to implement knowledge transfer projects, student recruitment initiatives and developmental opportunities for staff;
- Expanded the Agency's investment in employee learning and training; and
- Launched a fully redesigned intranet site, based on staff input, to give Agency staff access to work tools and key information on training, job opportunities, health and safety, and much more.
Improving Our Organizational Support and Responsiveness
The Agency recognizes that not only do we need to have the right people in the right place – they must also be doing the right work at the right time.
In order to be a well-managed, innovative organization that anticipates and responds effectively to change, the Agency adopted systemic business management practices.
A strong governance model, effective management principles and sound processes mean that the Agency's focus, efforts and resources are fully aligned and support its strategic, operational and performance objectives.
Measuring our performance
The Agency strives for high performance in everything it does. Three years ago, along with the 2008-2011 Strategic Plan, we released a results-focussed Performance Measurement Framework to track our progress towards achieving our performance targets.
The Framework established performance measures, benchmarks and targets for the level of service delivery that we aimed to achieve for our core business lines. These benchmarks were used to track how closely objectives, results and specific targets were being met and to support short- and long-term decision-making.
The Agency will build on these successes by establishing even more challenging performance benchmarks for targets we were able to achieve, while focussing with renewed determination on the targets that presented challenges over the last three years.
By setting out a clear course for 2008-11, the Agency was able to measure many of its contributions to an efficient and accessible transportation system for the benefit of the entire country, its economy and all of its citizens.
- Operational plans integrate multi-year budgeting and planning into resource management allocations
- New governance and committee structure in place to guide and oversee strategic priorities implementation and operational delivery
- Full implementation of a Performance Measurement Framework and ongoing reporting on performance measures
In addition, to improve its organizational support and responsiveness, the Agency:
- Created an internal case monitoring committee to identify ways to streamline the Agency's processes, monitor the status of all ongoing Agency cases, and address potential efficiency- and consistency-related issues before they arise;
- Developed an intranet-based case management toolkit for employees consisting of clear procedures, templates, tools and checklists to help Agency staff process cases with increased efficiency; and
- Commenced a review of the Agency's formal procedures and began developing new guidelines for determinations and oral hearings, in order to provide clear, focussed and consistent procedures that are customized for the different types of dispute and determinations processes.
Integrated Risk Management Framework Developed
- Risk Management and Legal Risk Management Framework in place
- Updated annually the Agency's Corporate Risk Profile
Other key accomplishments since 2008:
- Addressed a number of dispute case processing issues and implemented process improvements and new practices that promote increased productivity, efficiency and consistent quality; and
- Adopted a revised Case Management Policy Suite that will support better tracking of the progress of case files, increasing work efficiency and promoting best practices.