Table of Contents
- Office Values
- Responsibilities, Authorities, and Accountabilities
- Conflict of Interest
- Communication and Reporting
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada (Office) audits federal government operations and provides Parliament with independent information, advice, and assurance regarding the government’s stewardship of public funds. Through its work, the Office contributes in a fundamental way to good governance and democracy.
This Code of Values, Ethics, and Professional Conduct (Code) outlines the values and ethics that guide and support Office employees in their professional activities. It serves to preserve a professional work environment and enhance the public’s confidence in the Office’s integrity. It also strengthens the respect for the Office’s role within Canada’s democracy. The Office is subject to the Treasury Board’s Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and, as a result, is required to develop its own code. The Office’s Code is founded on the principles outlined in the Treasury Board’s Code and has been tailored to the Office’s unique work environment.
All individuals and entities performing work for or on behalf of the Office are required to accept and adhere to the values and behaviours outlined in this Code, as this requirement is a condition of employment or of a contract.
A breach of these values or behaviours may result in disciplinary measures, up to and including the termination of employment or contract.
Legislative and policy compliance
In addition to the requirements outlined in this Code, persons working on behalf of the Office are also required to observe any specific conduct and other requirements contained in applicable statutes, including the following:
- Auditor General Act
- Financial Administration Act
- Access to Information Act
- Canada Labour Code, Part II
- Criminal Code
- Official Languages Act and Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations
- Lobbying Act
- Privacy Act
- Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
- Public Service Employment Act
- Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act
Office employees must also comply with Office policies and applicable Treasury Board policies. Employees should consult with Legal Services if they are not sure about the application of any legislative or policy provision.
The following values will guide Office employees in their decisions, actions, policies, processes, and systems. These values cannot be considered in isolation from each other, as they will often overlap. The Office’s values are as follows:
- Democracy and independence
- Respect for people
- Integrity and professionalism
- Stewardship and serving the public interest
- Commitment to excellence
Statement of values and behaviours
|Statement of values||Expected behaviours|
Democracy and independence
We are an agent of Parliament that is independent of government. Our reports are based on evidence collected according to our policies and professional auditing standards. We bring a non-partisan, objective, and fair approach to our work.
Respect for people
We are committed to providing a working environment in which all are treated with dignity and respect and supported to realize their full career potential.
Integrity and professionalism
We perform our duties with integrity so that public confidence and trust in the independence, objectivity, and impartiality of the Office are protected. We conduct ourselves in a manner that meets the highest standards of professional conduct.
Stewardship and serving the public interest
We contribute to the efficiency, effectiveness, and environmental sustainability of government policies, programs, and services. We promote government accountability for the collection and use of public funds and for the results achieved, and we strive to ensure that the values of transparency and accountability are upheld while respecting our duties of confidentiality.
Commitment to excellence
We promote engagement, effective teamwork, learning, and innovation, as they are essential to a high-performing organization. We share our experience with others and contribute to the advancement of the legislative audit discipline in Canada and abroad.
Avenues for resolution
Employees at all levels are encouraged to try to resolve issues fairly and respectfully and to consider informal processes, such as dialogue or mediation. As another option, employees who witness or know about a probable ethical breach or wrongdoing in the workplace can refer the matter in confidence and without fear of reprisal to the attention of
- their immediate supervisors;
- the Senior Officer for Disclosure;
- Human Resources;
- the Internal Specialist, Values and Ethics;
- Legal Services; or
- the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Employees of an audited entity who have reason to believe that an Office employee has not acted in accordance with this Code can bring the matter to the Office’s Senior Officer for Disclosure or to the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Responsibilities, Authorities, and Accountabilities
The Auditor General is responsible for preserving public confidence in the integrity of management and operations within the Office, as well as for maintaining the independence of the Office and its continuing ability to provide professional and frank advice. In particular, the Auditor General has the responsibility to provide an internal culture focused on establishing priorities that emphasize the quality of the work performed and to regularly communicate the importance of adhering to the Office’s values and ethics.
The Auditor General, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, assistant auditors general (AAGs), and the Senior General Counsel are members of the Office’s Executive Committee. They have a particular responsibility to exemplify, in their actions and behaviours, the values of public service set out in this Code and to promote an internal culture focused on quality and compliance with Office policies and procedures.
Management team members are responsible for implementing the Office’s vision, values, and strategic priorities within their respective spheres of influence. Leaders are expected to demonstrate and promote the behaviours identified in the Office’s Leadership Contract.
Senior Officer for Disclosure
The Senior Officer for Disclosure is responsible for supporting the Auditor General as the chief executive in meeting the requirements of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. The Senior Officer helps promote a positive environment for disclosing wrongdoings and receives, records, reviews, investigates, and regularly reports on disclosures of wrongdoing made by employees of the organization.
Internal Specialist, Values and Ethics
The Internal Specialist, Values and Ethics, is responsible for advising on the implementation and application of the Code, consulting regularly with stakeholders, and reviewing the Code. In addition, the Internal Specialist assists in matters that employees proactively disclose. With the support of the Principal, Human Resources, the Internal Specialist is also responsible for reviewing conflict-of-interest declarations, determining whether mitigation measures are required, and preparing an annual report for the Executive Committee and the Audit Committee.
Human Resources is responsible for coordinating and compiling data for the annual conflict-of-interest process. The Principal, Human Resources, is responsible for reporting the overall completion rate for the Office to the Treasury Board. The Principal also supports the Internal Specialist, Values and Ethics, in reviewing conflict-of-interest declarations, determining whether mitigation measures are required, and preparing an annual report for the Executive Committee and the Audit Committee.
The Internal Audit team is responsible for periodically assessing the state of the Office’s ethical climate and the effectiveness of the Office’s strategies, communications, and other processes in achieving the desired state. The Chief Audit Executive is responsible for making recommendations to improve the Office’s governance process, including promoting appropriate ethics and values within the organization.
The Professional Development team is responsible for developing and implementing the Office’s learning curriculum as well as for coordinating, delivering, and evaluating learning and development courses related to values and ethics. The team is also responsible for reporting on these activities and performance measures to the AAG of Audit Services and to the Executive Committee. In addition, the team provides employees with information on the Code as part of the onboarding process.
All Office employees
All employees (including term and casual employees, employees on secondments or interchange assignments to the Office, and students) are required to strictly maintain the confidentiality of Office information and the information provided by audited entities. Employees should take care not to divulge such information, including to their family and friends, and to share the information only with other employees who have a need to know. Employees should also take care not to divulge the information to the public, media, and parliamentarians unless explicitly authorized by the Principal of Communications or a member of the Executive Committee. The responsibility to maintain the confidentiality of entity and Office information continues after an employee has left the Office. For more information, employees should consult the Office’s Security policy and the Communications policy suite.
All employees have an obligation to protect employee health and safety while they are at work and to ensure a work environment that is free of harassment and discrimination. The specific elements of these obligations are set out in Part II of the Canada Labour Code and in the Office’s Health and Safety Policy Statement and Harassment-free Workplace Policy.
Employees who are members of professional associations in connection with their duties in the Office are required to maintain themselves as members in good standing of such associations during their tenures with the Office. For more information, employees can consult the Office’s Directive 10—Payment of Professional Designation and Membership Fees.
Office employees are required to take the Canada School of Public Service’s course on values and ethics for their classification level.
Conflict of Interest
Public confidence in the Office is maintained by avoiding and preventing situations that could give rise to real, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest. Employees are therefore required to review this Code annually and complete the confidential Conflict of Interest Declaration form within the allotted timeline. Confidential declarations are filed at the start of employment with the Office, annually thereafter, and when there is any change in an employee’s situation, including the acquisition or divestment of any reported conflict of interest.
Guidance on the conflict-of-interest process
Office employees have the following obligations in terms of avoiding and preventing conflicts of interest:
- Read the Code annually and complete the confidential Conflict of Interest Declaration form as part of the annual conflict-of-interest process. Before signing their confidential declarations, employees may be required to complete a quiz to validate their understanding of the Code.
- Carry out their official duties and arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest from arising. Should any conflicts arise, resolve them in favour of the public interest.
- Understand that granting preferential treatment or advantages to family, friends, or any other person or entity is considered to give rise to a conflict of interest unless the contrary can be established.
- Do not place themselves in a position where they are under an obligation to any person who might benefit from special consideration or favour on their part.
- Do not knowingly take advantage of or benefit from information that is obtained in the course of their official duties and that is not generally available to the public.
- Do not use, directly or indirectly, or allow the use of government property of any kind, including property leased to the government, for anything other than officially approved activities.
- Refrain from public statements about the Office and the Government of Canada that could impair or appear to impair the objectivity and impartiality of Office employees or the Office.
It is impossible to foresee every situation that could give rise to a real, apparent, or potential conflict of interest. When in doubt, employees should seek advice from the Internal Specialist, Values and Ethics.
Outside employment or activities
Employees’ primary professional responsibility is to the Office. Office employees may engage in employment outside the Office and take part in outside activities when the employment and activities are not likely to give rise to real, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest or in any way undermine the Office’s neutrality, objectivity, or impartiality.
Outside-work endeavours should be undertaken only if they leave employees fully capable of carrying out their duties at the Office. Employees wishing to undertake outside activities that may give rise to real, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest must receive written approval from their managers in consultation with the Internal Specialist, Values and Ethics, and submit a confidential declaration that describes their outside activities.
Information gained through an association with the Office should not be used in outside employment. Office employees are not permitted to advertise their Office employment in the conduct of approved outside employment or activities.
Any unauthorized outside work that is performed during the hours worked for the Office is improper and constitutes grounds for dismissal. In exceptional cases where outside work is authorized to be performed during Office hours, employees are not entitled to receive double remuneration.
Secondary employment relating to government activities or officials, either directly or on behalf of an external third party contracting with the government, is considered to give rise to a conflict of interest unless the contrary can be established by the employee.
When an employee wishes to engage in activities in support of political candidates or parties, the employee should consider whether the employment duties contain the scope for the exercise of any discretion that could be or appear to be influenced by political considerations, and whether the activities could call into question the employee’s ability to perform work objectively and impartially.
Permission to participate as a candidate in a municipal, provincial, territorial, or federal election is subject to the specific approval of the Auditor General. The permission to carry out these political activities will be granted only if it is considered that the work and reputation of the Office would not be impaired by the candidacy or activity.
Consultants and contractors
Employees must consider whether any relationships or connections with existing or potential contractors could result in a real, apparent, or potential conflict of interest. Employees must include such relationships in the Conflict of Interest Declaration form and consult the Internal Specialist, Values and Ethics, if such a conflict arises in the course of their duties.
Gifts, hospitality, and other benefits
Office employees must not accept or solicit any gifts, hospitality, or other benefits that may have a real or apparent influence on their objectivity in carrying out their official duties or that may place them or the Office under obligation to the donor.
The acceptance of gifts, hospitality, and other benefits is permissible if offers meet all of the following criteria:
- offers are infrequent and of minimal or nominal value;
- offers arise from activities or events related to the official duties of the employee concerned;
- offers are within the normal standards of courtesy, hospitality, or protocol;
- offers do not compromise or appear to compromise in any way the integrity of the employee or the Office; and
- offers are immediately disclosed to the employee’s manager.
Employees must seek specific written direction from their AAGs in situations where it seems impossible to decline gifts, hospitality, and other benefits that do not meet the guidelines set out above.
With the exception of fundraising for charitable organizations, Office employees may not solicit gifts, hospitality, other benefits, or transfers of economic value from a person, group, or organization in the private sector that has dealings with the government.
When fundraising for charitable organizations, Office employees should ensure that they have prior written authorization from their AAGs to solicit donations, prizes, or contributions in kind from external organizations or individuals.
Employees should undertake to minimize the possibility of real, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest between their subsequent employment and their most recent responsibilities within the Office.
Employees should not allow themselves to be influenced in their official functions by offers of outside employment. If an offer of employment might give rise to a conflict-of-interest situation, employees should discuss the potential conflict with their principals, service leaders, or AAGs.
The AAGs, principals, and directors must disclose to their supervisors all offers of employment that could place them in real, apparent, or potential conflict-of-interest situations. They must also immediately inform their supervisors when they accept any such offers.
Within a period of one year after leaving the Office, employees shall not
- represent any third party in the resolution of any conflict with a department or organization with which they personally or through their subordinates had significant official dealings during the period of one year immediately prior to the termination of their services for the Office; or
- provide advice on the basis of information obtained in the course of employment with the Office and not readily available to the public, on the programs or policies of the departments or organizations with which they had substantial relationships.
The Auditor General has the authority to reduce or waive the post-employment limitation period for an employee or former employee. Such a decision should take into consideration the following:
- the circumstances under which the termination of service occurred,
- the significance to the government of the information possessed by the employee,
- the desirability of a rapid transfer of the employee’s knowledge and skills,
- the degree to which the new employer might gain unfair advantage,
- the authority and influence the employee possessed while in the Office, and
- any other consideration at the discretion of the Auditor General.
The Lobbying Act restrictions on post-employment apply to the following management employees: the Auditor General, AAGs, the Senior General Counsel, and the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. These restrictions prevent these management employees from accepting any position as a lobbyist within five years of leaving or retiring from their positions with the Office. For these employees, the ability to engage in post-employment activities if these activities constitute lobbying may be restricted for five years, rather than one year.
Communication and Reporting
The Code is supported by the annual conflict-of-interest process. The Office also communicates changes to policies related to values and ethics through corporate communications and informs employees of their requirement to take a training course on values and ethics.
Monitoring and reporting
The Internal Specialist, Values and Ethics, with the support of Human Resources and Legal Services, monitors the implementation and application of the Code throughout the year. The Internal Specialist reports annually to the Audit Committee on the conflict-of-interest process, incidents of non-compliance with the Harassment-free Workplace Policy, workplace investigations, and post-employment measures, as well as on corrective action plans as necessary. The Internal Specialist is also responsible for reviewing the Code every five years.