[IPAC-List] Use of integrity assessments in public sector

Mark Hammer Mark.Hammer at psc-cfp.gc.ca
Sun Jan 5 17:02:21 EST 2014

As one can see below, Reid's original question was not with respect to
the validity of integrity tests in general - I think we can all envision
contexts where they would be the perfect supplement to other validtests,
given the nature of the position - but the specific use of such tests in
the public sector.

"Public sector" includes two general uses: for external recruitment into
the PS, and for competitions/promotions within the PS. As I commented
earlier, without articulating that I was thinking in terms of internal
competitions, any tests used, no matter what their validity might be,
will often have results available publicly, whether posted automatically
(to show who made the short list), or upon request (e.g., an appeal that
inquires into "why I didn't make the cut and those guys did"). And
under those conditions, Harry's "smoove move" of using a term/construct
that does not brand a person quite so negatively, is on the money, as
far as I'm concerned. Of course, once one is within any public-sector
organization, the assumption is that you pass muster, with respect to
integrity, if you are applying for a promotion or other position, and
have not been in trouble as of yet; your "good egg" credit subs for a

I don't know about everybody else's public sector context, but in ours
there is a security check, and working is contingent on obtaining that
security clearance. If you come from outside, they do a check, and if
you're coming from inside and already have that security level, you get
credit for that. That clearance may be relatively basic for a great
many positions, but it is there. What sort of distinguishes private
sector and public sector employers is that many private-sector employers
may have the resources to spring for integrity testing, but not have
either the resources or legal authority to engage in the sort of
thorough security check that public-sector employers can. My employers
can have the RCMP run a check on you. I don't know what Krogers or
Target has the legal clout to do.

So, for me, the question that arises is how much any integrity testing
is largely reduncant with the one-two-punch of a security check and a
structured reference check. I will grant you that use of even both of
these is not necessarily exactly the same as either testing for
integrity or conscientiousness. But I suspect that, as Reid notes,
unless we are looking specifically at public safety officers, or any
other postions of trust where a security check is considered to not
capture the entire construct space of interest, you won't see integrity
tests used all that often.

Of course, a member of the public would likely look at the nature of
employment in each sector - "at will" in the private, and ultra-secure
in the public - and scrunch their face up, muttering "Wait, you're going
to hire him/her for conceivably 30 years, and you're not even going to
test for that, yet that other employer is going to put a checkout
cashier through those hoops, even though they could fire them at a
moment's notice?". That individual is looking at it from the low/high
stakes angle, where at-will employment implies the ethical/integrity bar
can be a little lower, since mistakes can be corrected by termination.


>>> Reid Klion 01/02/14 5:44 PM >>>

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I am curious about the group*s thoughts about a question that was
recently posed by a colleague regarding the use of integrity tests in
the public sector. Integrity tests are used fairly broadly in the
private sector for individuals applying for *positions of trust.*
However, neither of us were aware of their usage in the public sector
(setting aside the use of psychological assessments for the selection of
public safety officers which uses a different set of assessments much
broader in scope ). Anyone have any thoughts or anecdata? Thanks-



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