Special Audits and Studies

The Merit Commissioner conducts special audits of some appointment types. In accordance with section 10 of the Public Service Act, some appointment types must be based on merit but do not require a competitive process.  

These appointments are: 

  • An auxiliary employee  
  • A temporary appointment of seven months or less  
  • A direct appointment by the head of the Public Service Agency in unusual or exceptional circumstances  

These types of appointments are not included in our annual merit performance audits. Instead, we conduct special audits of them to ensure they continue to be based on merit.  

We also conduct special studies on issues that have the potential to impact merit in the public service. Ideas for these studies arise from broader observations we make throughout all our work. 

Examples of topics we have studied include the use of:  

  • Eligibility lists 
  • Self-assessment questionnaires 
  • Behavioural interviews 

See our Publications – Special Audits and Studies page for a complete list of the special audits and studies we have conducted. 

Direct Appointments 

This special audit reviewed the appointments of individuals directly to positions without competition to see if they met the requirements of the Public Service Act, which are:   

  • Appointment is based on the principle of merit 
  • Unusual or exceptional circumstances 
  • Appointment is approved by the Agency Head  

We examined all direct appointments that occurred between April 1, 2015, to March 31, 2018.  We found that over this three-year period, 45 individuals were directly appointed by the Agency Head. We identified discrepancies in the data caused by coding errors within the corporate database.  

Overall, we determined that this type of appointment did not pose a risk to merit-based hiring given: 

  • The small number of this type of appointment 
  • That all appointments had received the appropriate approval by the Agency Head 

Audit of Direct Appointments (report published March 2019)

Eligibility Lists 

This special study examined the use of eligibility lists in the BC Public Service. Candidates who have been found qualified in a competitive process may be placed on an eligibility list for future vacancies. Candidates are placed on the list and offered appointments by their overall ranking in the process.  When eligibility lists are created and used properly, they are an efficient and cost-effective way of filling multiple positions.  

Over four successive merit performance audits, we observed the frequent use of eligibility lists and some concerns with their use where they have the potential to result in unfair appointments. The report also outlined strategies for greater transparency and fairness, and to lessen potential risk of error. 

Eligibility Lists – Special Study 2021 (report published March 2021).