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ARCHIVED - TB Circular 1977-37: Pay Administration

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The following responsibilities are assigned to provide the framework for the pay administration process. It is not the intent of this circular to give step-by-step instruction, but rather to address those areas where deficiencies have been identified and corrective action has been recommended. Responsibilities for record-keeping to support the Superannuation processes currently carried out by departments and DSS must be maintained.

Departments will have responsibility for the integrity of the overall pay process. In particular:

  • Departments will be responsible for the accuracy and validity of pay input data sent to DSS;
  • Departments will monitor their own pay administration system to ensure adherence to the prescribed performance standards described in section (e);
  • Departments will initiate and maintain control of batches of pay input documents, or alternatively of punch cards or tape inputs;
  • Departments will be responsible for resolution of input errors or anomalies detected by DSS edits. (DSS will discontinue manual verification of pay inputs from Departments.)
  • Financial officers in departments will certify pay input in accordance with section 26 of the Financial Administrative Act.

These statements highlight the areas of significance and the following paragraphs give details of some of the processes required to implement the recommendations of the Pay Study Task Force.

(a) Verification

The purpose of verification is to obtain a correct and consistent application of the various pay regulations, and to ensure the accurate completion of pay documents input to departmental or DSS segments of the pay system.

Because the responsibility for the accuracy of pay input will rest solely with departments, DSS will no longer perform manual verification. Only the department has the authority to requisition pay cheques or changes to an employee's pay and only the department has the data required. Nevertheless, as a service to departments, the DSS pay system will edit documents for validity and accuracy as far as practicable. DSS has no authority to change departments' instructions, and any incorrect or incomplete input which reaches DSS will not be completed or changed there but returned to the originator. Such returned inputs will create a delay in processing for which the department must be held responsible.

Departments will clearly identify who has the responsibility for verification and certification under Section 27 of the FAA. The person delegated this responsibility will ultimately be accountable to the Deputy Head for these activities.

It must be emphasized that the primary responsibility of the person authorizing the input should not be obscured by introducing duplicate verification processes which may lead to confused responsibility and, in effect, leave no-one truly responsible.

(b) DSS System Edits

Although departments will be responsible and accountable for accuracy and validity of pay input, DSS will design and install computer edits to safeguard the integrity of the pay records, to assist departments in their control role and to provide quantitative data to Treasury Board Secretariat to assist in determining the effectiveness of pay administration.

Input transactions which fail to meet the edit specifications fall into two categories: either they will be deemed non-processable and be returned to the department, or they will be processed through the pay system and a message returned to the department drawing attention to a possible anomaly. Anomalies or unusual transactions will be processed but, since there is a probability they may be erroneous, the department will be required to verify these transactions. Details of edits and definitions of conditions to be classified as rejects or anomalies will be specified by DSS, with departmental advice, approved by TBS and communicated to departments as a part of the input procedures.

(c) Batch Control

Pay input documents must be grouped into batches and the batches controlled from their point of origin through subsequent manual and computer processing steps.

The batch control document should be originated prior to or at the time of certifying under Section 27 of the FAA to give the person with this responsibility a means to ensure that all information gets into the system and that unauthorized information is not added. DSS will provide the details of the batch control process as part of the pay input procedure. These principles of document control apply whether documents are being input to the DSS pay system or to a departmental system which will send data to DSS via magnetic tape or some other means.

The batch control document should contain a Section 26 certification for cheque requisition for the batch. The department is responsible for ensuring that individual documents have been properly certified and DSS need only verify the signature on the batch control document. All data for transmission via magnetic tape must be accompanied by a document certifying the transactions on the tape. Data may also be transmitted to DSS via direct electronic transmission lines; in these cases, other control methods must be introduced to replace batch control.

The DSS data processing systems will use the departmental batch control information to control their own processing. The batch control data should be returned to departments for reconciliation purposes together with the listings required to identify transactions which have been processed, transactions which have been returned as non-processable or transactions which have been processed but flagged for some anomaly or peculiarity identified by the system edits. This information will assist in ensuring an adequate audit trail.

(d) Error Control

Departments will be required to design and implement internal procedures to monitor their own pay administration and ensure the timeliness and accuracy of pay input. One of the features of such a system should be a control to ensure the prompt correction and re-submission of any transaction returned or flagged as a possible error. This control will be supported by the DSS system, which will maintain a control record to ensure resolution of each returned item.

The TBS Pay Administration Coordination Group will develop means to monitor the total pay administration process. Among the techniques used will be the gathering of statistics on the number and types of errors, and the length of time taken to correct them.

(e) Departmental Monitoring Systems and Pay Administration Performance Standards

It will be the responsibility of departments to design their pay administration process so that it will be capable of meeting the following target standards on a continuing basis. (Obviously, this responsibility can only be met if the DSS system is also capable of processing within specified time limits.)

  • on initial appointment, the first cheque, covering the entitlement for the first pay period, should be available (except for employees paid in arrears) within 10 working days;
  • employees paid in arrears should receive the first cheque, covering the entitlement which is based on time worked in the first pay period, at the end of the second pay period;
  • on being struck off strength, the last cheque should be available within 10 working days of the SOS effective date;
  • all changes should be reflected in the two-week pay period following the one in which the change is authorized.

This capability can be assured by means of the internal monitoring system that the Pay Study Task Force recommends be implemented within each department. Section 5.4 of the Phase 3 Report gives a description of the techniques of such a monitoring system and may be used as an implementation guide.

(f) Verification of Outputs and Other Process Controls

The department's responsibility for pay processing does not end with the reporting of input data to the Department of Supply and Services for processing and cheque preparation. The Pay process differs from the processing of other expenditures in that the authorizing input document sent to Department of Supply and Services does not contain the amount of the cheque to be produced. Rather, the input document, already certified under Section 27 and Section 26 of the FAA for payment normally contains only the components required for calculation purposes such as annual salary or hours worked; the DSS pay system calculates the gross/net pay. It follows that the persons delegated the authority under Section 27 and Section 26 must ensure that the pay transactions they have authorized are actioned. Pay output should be reconciled with input. Treasury Board Secretariat will ensure that the DSS pay system is designed to provide departments with whatever data is necessary to effect this reconciliation.

Managers should review charges being made against their budget. This is not to suggest that the manager (or delegate) calculate the amounts of pay but that a review be made for reasonableness of amounts and to ensure that transactions such as TOS, Transfer and SOS have been implemented. Such reviews also apply to extra duty pay and allowances.

In addition, a number of other controls should be in place in the pay process. These are defined in an amendment to the Guide on Financial Administration which has been issued on "Control of Receiver General Cheques". This amendment along with a letter of guidance was sent to departments and clearly stated that the responsibility for ensuring these controls are operating properly rests with the senior financial officer of the department.

The requirement of this letter and the amendment to the Guide are not changed by the contents of this circular. Some additional comments can however be made.

The amendment to the Guide sets out certain principles relative to the distribution of cheques, and states:

"... the distribution of cheques to employees must not be performed by persons engaged in any part of the staffing, classification, salary and wage assessment functions, or in the preparation and signature of staff pay certificates."

These statements do not mean that a financial officer must be responsible for cheque distribution but rather that whoever is responsible must be independent of the preparation and signing of pay input and this, therefore excludes persons with Section 27 and Section 26 authority, with regard to payroll, whether they be in Finance or Personnel. Because cheque distribution is seen as a vital financial control, the person responsible must take functional direction from the senior financial officer of the department.