2010 December Report of the Auditor General of Canada

Foreword

This report presents the results of our audit of the allegations related to the conduct of the former Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada as a deputy head. The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada (PSIC) was created in April 2007 to provide a means for federal public servants and members of the public to disclose potential wrongdoing in the federal public sector. Under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA or the Act), if a federal public servant or member of the public wishes to make a disclosure of wrongdoing that concerns PSIC, the disclosure may be made to the Auditor General of Canada. In investigating that disclosure, the Auditor General has the same powers and duties as the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (the Commissioner). I recently exercised some of these powers and duties as a result of disclosures that I received under the Act.

In light of the statutory requirement for an independent review of the PSDPA in April 2012, I wish to bring to the attention of Parliament two matters related to the Act that we identified in the course of our work. The first is the inability to pursue information outside the public sector during an investigation under the Act. The second is the lack of an independent mechanism for addressing allegations of reprisal within PSIC. We did not look at all of the provisions of the Act.

During an investigation into wrongdoing under the PSDPA, the Commissioner can only obtain information from within the public sector. If the investigation involves obtaining information from outside the public sector, the Act requires the Commissioner to cease that part of the investigation and refer it to a competent authority. This prevents the Commissioner from obtaining information relevant to certain investigations—from former public servants, for example. In the case of the disclosures that I received under the Act, we determined that our work would require information from outside the public sector. In ceasing an investigation under the PSDPA and transferring it to another authority, however, none of the individuals who cooperate in the new process receive the same protection from reprisals as they would have under the PSDPA.

In addition, while the Auditor General can receive disclosures of wrongdoing concerning PSIC under the PSDPA, there is no independent mechanism for addressing allegations of reprisal within PSIC. Reprisal complaints under the Act can only be filed with the Commissioner, and the Commissioner has the sole authority to determine whether an investigation will be conducted. The Commissioner also has the sole authority to determine whether a reprisal complaint will be referred to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal for a determination of whether the complainant has been subject to reprisals. In this case, it was the Commissioner herself that was alleged to have engaged in reprisal actions.

As a result of these two limitations of the PSDPA, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada ceased its investigations and converted them into a performance audit under the Auditor General Act.

I hope that these observations on my Office’s experience with the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act will be of assistance to Parliament when it considers the review of the operation of the Act.

Introduction

Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada

1. The Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada (PSIC) was established under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA), which came into force on 15 April 2007. The PSDPA and PSIC exist to provide a means for federal public servants and members of the public to disclose potential wrongdoing in the federal public sector. The PSDPA also protects public servants who make a disclosure, or public servants who cooperate in an investigation, against reprisal.

2. The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada (the Commissioner) is the head of PSIC and has the rank and powers of a department deputy head. The Commissioner is an independent Agent of Parliament appointed by the Governor in Council after consultation with the leader of every recognized party in the Senate and House of Commons, and following the approval of the appointment by resolution of the Senate and the House of Commons. The first Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada, Christiane Ouimet, began her seven-year term at PSIC on 6 August 2007. On average, PSIC has employed about 20 full-time equivalents since its inception.

Complaints received by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada

3. If a federal public servant or member of the public wishes to make a disclosure (or complaint) of wrongdoing that concerns PSIC, section 14 of the PSDPA allows them to make the disclosure to the Auditor General of Canada who has, in relation to that disclosure, the powers, duties and protections of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner under this Act.

4. On 28 November 2008, 30 April 2009, and 17 July 2009, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) received complaints from three individuals against Public Sector Integrity Commissioner Christiane Ouimet. Details on the specific allegations against the Commissioner were obtained in meetings with each of the complainants. Allegations of wrongdoing made against the Commissioner were related to her conduct as a deputy head and interactions with PSIC staff, reprisal (or retaliatory) actions taken by the Commissioner against former employees, performance pay decisions, and the performance of her mandated functions.

5. The OAG commenced investigations into the first two disclosures. On 11 May 2009, the OAG ceased its investigations and converted them into a performance audit under the Auditor General Act. This was done for two reasons. First, the investigative work would involve obtaining information that was outside the public sector, which is not permitted under the PSDPA. Second, the PSDPA does not identify an independent mechanism for addressing allegations of reprisal within PSIC. While the Auditor General can receive disclosures of wrongdoing concerning PSIC under the PSDPA, reprisal complaints can only be filed with the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner who, in this case, was alleged to have engaged in the reprisal actions.

6. In the course of our audit, we met with 34 current and former PSIC employees, as well as with senior government officials and third parties. We reviewed documentation and communications at PSIC, and documentation at PSIC’s service providers—the Canadian Human Rights Commission for financial administration services, and Status of Women Canada for human resource services. Finally, we interviewed the Commissioner on 2 December 2009 and on 13 and 14 September 2010 to obtain her representations regarding the allegations made against her by the complainants and the information that we collected in the course of our audit.

7. We have organized the allegations against the Commissioner into the following categories, which we discuss in the observations section of this report:

  • Conduct and interactions with PSIC staff
  • Retaliatory actions
  • Performance of mandated functions

8. On the allegations dealing with performance pay decisions, we have reported separately to the Chief Human Resources Officer at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, and to PSIC Management.

9. The period covered by our audit was 15 April 2007 to 31 July 2009. More details concerning the audit, including the audit objective and criteria, can be found in About the Audit at the end of this report.

Observations

Conduct and interactions with PSIC staff

10. The complaints received by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada included allegations about inappropriate conduct by the Commissioner, including in her interactions with PSIC staff. These allegations included statements to the effect that the Commissioner yelled, swore, and also berated, marginalized, and intimidated certain PSIC employees, and that she engaged in reprisal actions. We sought to determine whether allegations made by the complainants concerning the Commissioner’s conduct were founded. Specifically, we looked at whether

  • human resource decisions and management practices of the Commissioner reflected the highest standards of ethical conduct as required by the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service;
  • human resource management practices of PSIC and of the Commissioner fostered a respectful workplace for all PSIC employees;
  • actions of the Commissioner raised reasonable grounds for believing that a reprisal was taken against a complainant.
The Commissioner engaged in inappropriate conduct

11. We met with current and former PSIC employees and reviewed documentation and communications at PSIC. Many of the current and former PSIC employees that we met with expressed concerns about the Commissioner communicating with PSIC employees in a disrespectful and unprofessional manner, including yelling, swearing, and also berating PSIC employees, at times in front of co-workers. Several instances of disrespectful and unprofessional communication on the part of the Commissioner were corroborated by multiple witnesses and, in some cases, by email communications, electronic documents on PSIC’s shared drive, and contemporaneous notes. The Commissioner denied these allegations and stated that the information provided by the complainants and the witnesses was exaggerated. The Commissioner stated that she did not treat her employees in a disrespectful or unprofessional manner.

12. A large number of the current and former PSIC employees that we met with also expressed concerns about the Commissioner marginalizing or intimidating certain PSIC employees. Examples of allegations with regard to the treatment of these employees included

  • removing employees from decision-making processes and communication networks;
  • overloading or removing employees’ workload and duties; and
  • ignoring employees.

Some of the current and former employees that we spoke with also told us that the Commissioner had indicated to them that she wanted to push certain employees to leave PSIC. Again, several allegations of marginalization or intimidation were corroborated by multiple individuals and, in some cases, by email communications. The Commissioner denied these allegations and advised us that, in some cases, duties were removed from individuals at their request or because the duties were no longer necessary after PSIC had completed its transition from the former Public Sector Integrity Office.

13. We found a high level of turnover at PSIC in the first two years of its operation. Between 5 August 2007 and 31 July 2009, 24 employees left the Office, which amounted to an average turnover rate of over 50 percent per year. This included the departure of the majority of staff in senior positions who reported directly to the Commissioner. The Commissioner told us that the level of turnover within PSIC was normal for a small entity.

14. We met with 18 of the 24 people that left PSIC during the period covered by our audit, and with 5 more people who left PSIC after 31 July 2009 but who were employed by PSIC during the period covered by our audit. Many of these former PSIC employees told us that they left as a result of the Commissioner’s conduct and the resulting work environment. Some of these former employees also told us that they experienced health problems as a result of their interactions with the Commissioner. Some very negative terms were used by both current and former employees to describe the work environment at PSIC.

15. In our interview with the Commissioner on 13 and 14 September 2010, we asked her to respond to some of the specific alleged events that were brought to our attention. The Commissioner denied the allegations against her concerning her conduct and interactions with PSIC staff. She told us that she acted in good faith and within the boundaries of government policies at all times. The Commissioner stated that some of the current and former employees who had made allegations against her did so because they were angry that they were not given the promotions they were promised by previous managers. The Commissioner also suggested that many of the current and former employees who made allegations were incompetent or not productive during their tenure at PSIC. The Commissioner acknowledged that PSIC has faced some challenges as a new organization, but that it is exactly where it should be after three years of operation.

16. In our view, the allegations against the Commissioner concerning her inappropriate conduct and interactions with PSIC staff are founded. In arriving at this conclusion, we considered information gathered from multiple sources throughout our audit. This included interviews with current and former PSIC employees, the corroboration in email communications, electronic documents on PSIC’s shared drive, contemporaneous notes, the corroborating testimony of witnesses, and our interviews with the Commissioner.

The Commissioner engaged in retaliatory actions

17. A former PSIC senior executive alleged on 17 July 2009, in the third complaint received by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, that the Commissioner undertook a series of retaliatory actions against him because she believed that he had complained about her to the Auditor General and that he had cooperated in our audit. The former PSIC employee (the complainant) alleged that the Commissioner

  • provided information of a personal nature to his previous employer, to senior officials in government, and to a private sector security consultant;
  • sought to obtain confidential information from his personnel files in the possession of his previous employer;
  • prepared and circulated a large volume of information concerning his character, health, and performance during his tenure at PSIC, following his departure from the Office.

The complainant further alleged that these actions taken by the Commissioner could adversely affect his current and/or future employment or working conditions, or his ability to obtain future contracts with the federal public service.

18. We met with senior officials in government, including with the complainant’s previous employer, with the private sector security consultant, and with certain current and former PSIC employees. We also reviewed relevant email communications and documentation at PSIC. We interviewed the Commissioner on 2 December 2009 to obtain her representations regarding the allegations that she undertook retaliatory actions against the complainant.

19. We found that the Commissioner

  • disclosed personal information about the complainant to his previous employer, to senior officials in government, and to the private sector security consultant;
  • requested access to the complainant’s personnel file from his previous employer in order to use this information in a security investigation that targeted the complainant and three other former PSIC employees;
  • prepared and circulated information about the complainant within PSIC, which included leading the preparation of four binders comprising 96 documents and totalling more than 375 pages of information about him, circulating at least 50 emails about him, and involving at least 6 of her staff in these activities; and
  • did not meet her obligations under the Treasury Board’s Policy on Privacy Protection and under the Privacy Act, in responding to the requests made by the complainant to access his personal information in PSIC’s possession.

20. In addition, we found that the Commissioner took the above actions against the former PSIC employee at a time when he had not yet made a complaint to the Auditor General, and more than six to eight months after he had resigned from public service. In our opinion, the Commissioner also breached the Privacy Act in undertaking these actions. As a direct result of the Commissioner’s actions against the complainant, senior government officials in three government organizations, individuals at a private sector security company, and a number of PSIC employees were provided information concerning the Commissioner’s opinions about the complainant’s character, health, and performance.

21. The Commissioner told us that she acted in good faith at all times and intended no prejudice toward anyone. The Commissioner told us that she had acted to protect the reputation of her Office and on the advice that she received from PSIC’s Departmental Audit Committee.

22. We concluded that the allegations made by the former PSIC employee that the Commissioner undertook a series of retaliatory actions against him because she believed that he had complained about her to the Auditor General and that he had cooperated in our audit are founded. Again, we considered information gathered from multiple sources in the course of our audit in arriving at this conclusion.

Performance of mandated functions

23. The complaints received by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada included allegations that the Commissioner was not properly performing her mandated functions. These allegations included statements to the effect that the Commissioner did not want to conduct investigations or refer complaints of reprisal to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal (the Tribunal), and that she did not establish policies and procedures within PSIC for dealing with disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisal. We sought to determine whether these allegations were founded. Specifically, we looked at whether

  • PSIC had established, implemented, and monitored effective procedures and practices to receive, record, review, investigate, and otherwise deal with disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints made with respect to reprisals;
  • investigations into allegations of wrongdoing or reprisal received by PSIC were conducted in accordance with the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
Operational guidance was not finalized or implemented

24. We spoke to members of PSIC investigative and legal staff and reviewed documents provided to us. We found that, for the period covered by our audit, draft internal guidance for handling disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisal under the PSDPA existed. This included discussion papers concerning the legal framework of the PSDPA and certain key concepts under the Act. However, procedures for conducting investigations had not yet been finalized or implemented.

25. During the interview on 13 and 14 September 2010, the Commissioner told us that many policies and procedures have been developed by PSIC, and she subsequently provided us with copies of 12 different internal policies. We reviewed the documents provided by the Commissioner and found that none of them set out procedures for handling disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisal received under the PSDPA.

There are concerns about a reluctance to investigate

26. According to its 2007–08 and 2008–09 annual reports, PSIC received a total of 114 disclosures of wrongdoing and 42 complaints of reprisal in the first two years of its operation. During this period, out of the 156 files, three formal investigations were conducted. No disclosures of wrongdoing were determined to be founded and no reprisal complaints were referred to the Tribunal. Following the period covered by our audit, PSIC released its annual report for 2009–10. For its third year in operation, PSIC reported having received an additional 56 disclosures of wrongdoing and 16 complaints of reprisal. Out of these 72 additional files, two disclosures of wrongdoing were reported as having been closed after formal investigation, neither of which resulted in a finding of wrongdoing. Two reprisal files were reported as being under formal investigation.

27. Many current and former PSIC employees we met with as part of our audit expressed concerns that the Commissioner was reluctant to investigate disclosures of wrongdoing and to refer complaints of reprisal to the Tribunal. Additionally, some of these current and former employees raised concerns about the Commissioner’s objectivity and impartiality in her decisions and her involvement in operational files. Most of the individuals who expressed these concerns were members of PSIC’s investigative or legal teams and were directly involved in the operational files.

28. During the interview on 13 and 14 September 2010, the Commissioner told us that the statistics reported in her annual reports are normal for a new organization such as PSIC, especially one with a complex mandate. She also told us that the PSDPA gives her a large amount of discretion in deciding whether to conduct formal investigations into disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisal, and whether such investigations are in the public interest. The Commissioner informed us that she is not reluctant to commence investigations, and that a number of investigations have been initiated and are well under way.

Decisions were not always supported

29. We reviewed 86 PSIC closed operational files as part of our audit. In many cases, we found that decisions by PSIC to refuse to formally investigate, or to dismiss, disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisal were not supported by the nature of work performed, the documentation on file, or both. In our view, a more thorough approach to these files was warranted before decisions to refuse to investigate, or to dismiss, these disclosures and complaints could be reached.

30. In one case of disclosure of wrongdoing, the complainant alleged that he was directed by his manager to accept a late bid on a procurement contract contrary to the Treasury Board Contracting Policy and applicable law. The manager who allegedly issued the direction also allegedly had an interest in the organization that submitted the late bid. Although PSIC recognized that the alleged actions by the manager would constitute a wrongdoing, it refused to investigate the disclosure because the contract was never awarded, and because PSIC was satisfied that the situation had been properly dealt with by the Senior Officer of the government organization. We did not find any evidence on file to demonstrate that the government organization had addressed the alleged conflict of interest and direction by the manager to accept the late bid. The complainant also filed a complaint of reprisal in relation to this disclosure based on other events that took place. PSIC refused to investigate the reprisal complaint on the basis that management’s actions were within its privilege in the course of managing an office. Again, we did not find any evidence on file in support of this conclusion. We asked the Commissioner for her position regarding PSIC’s conclusions on this file. The Commissioner told us that she was satisfied by the recommendations of her staff. PSIC subsequently informed us that it recently conducted a review of a number of its files, and that the case described in this paragraph has been re-opened.

31. In a second case of disclosure of wrongdoing, the complainant alleged that a public servant was being permitted to pursue studies on a full-time basis while at the same time collecting a full salary for duties not being performed. PSIC refused to investigate the disclosure of wrongdoing based on its conclusion that an agreement was in place between the government organization and the employee in question, allowing for the situation described in the disclosure. As part of the work that PSIC performed in this file, PSIC contacted officials within the government organization in which the wrongdoing was allegedly occurring. According to documents on file, department officials confirmed that the studies were not a requirement of the position held and that related costs were not reimbursable. Department officials also contended that an agreement with the employee in question was in place, but no such document was on file at PSIC. PSIC’s decision to not investigate the disclosure of wrongdoing is not supported by the documents in the file, and PSIC did not conduct a probing analysis into the circumstances surrounding the alleged agreement. We asked the Commissioner for her position regarding PSIC’s decision on this file. The Commissioner responded that she did not wish to discuss the merit of PSIC’s decision; that the letter of decision was not signed by her; but that she was satisfied the investigation had followed PSIC procedures. PSIC subsequently informed us that the case described in this paragraph has also been re-opened.

32. In the case of a complaint of reprisal, PSIC refused to investigate the complaint based on its conclusion that the alleged measures taken against the complainant were not the result of a protected disclosure under the PSDPA (and therefore outside of PSIC’s jurisdiction) and, further, that the matter was a workplace conflict. We found that PSIC reached these conclusions despite evidence on file that the complainant had in fact made a protected disclosure (and therefore it was within PSIC’s jurisdiction), and without any evidence that PSIC had investigated the workplace to determine if there was indeed a workplace conflict. We asked the Commissioner for her position regarding PSIC’s decision on this file. The Commissioner referred us back to the analysis contained in the file and stated that she was not aware of any additional information supporting the conclusion. We reviewed the file once again, and concluded that the reasons provided for the refusal to investigate this reprisal complaint are not supported by the documents on file.

33. Under the PSDPA, in considering whether to make an application to the Tribunal for a determination of whether a reprisal was taken against a complainant, the Commissioner must consider whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that a reprisal was taken. In the only complaint of reprisal formally investigated by PSIC during the period covered by our audit, we found that the Commissioner stated in her decision letter that she was dismissing the complaint on the basis that she could not conclude an act of reprisal had occurred. The rationale set out in the Commissioner’s decision letter to the complainant was that PSIC could not identify a “clear nexus” (or clear link) between the alleged reprisal action and the disclosure of wrongdoing. In our view, such a determination extends beyond the Commissioner’s responsibilities under the PSDPA because it goes further than assessing whether there are “reasonable grounds” for believing that a reprisal was taken. In our interview with the Commissioner, she stated that, for all cases of alleged reprisal, a clear nexus between the disclosure of wrongdoing and the alleged reprisal actions is the minimum criterion that must be met in order to proceed with the complaint. PSIC subsequently informed us that it does not agree with our finding that the Commissioner’s determination in this file extended beyond her responsibilities.

34. During the interview on 13 and 14 September 2010, the Commissioner acknowledged that she is accountable for, and stands behind, all of the decisions made by PSIC, and that these decisions were based on the advice received from experts, including her staff. She also told us that the PSDPA gives her a large amount of discretion in deciding whether to conduct formal investigations into disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisal, and whether such investigations are in the public interest.

35. In our view, the allegations against the Commissioner concerning the improper performance of her mandated functions are founded. During the period covered by our audit, procedures for conducting investigations were not finalized or implemented. We also found that, in many cases, decisions to refuse to investigate, or to dismiss disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints of reprisal were not supported by either the nature of work performed, the documentation on file, or both. It is also our view that decisions by the Commissioner to refuse to investigate certain complaints of reprisal on the basis that she could not conclude that an act of reprisal had occurred extended beyond her responsibilities under the PSDPA. Again, we considered information gathered from multiple sources in the course of our audit in arriving at this conclusion.

Conclusion

36. In our view, the allegations made by the complainants concerning the Commissioner’s inappropriate conduct and interactions with PSIC staff, retaliatory actions by the Commissioner, and the failure by the Commissioner to properly perform her mandated functions, are founded. As previously noted, we have reported separately to the Chief Human Resources Officer at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and to PSIC management on the allegations related to performance pay decisions.

37. We are of the view that the Commissioner’s conduct and actions were inconsistent with the spirit of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, the same Act from which she obtains her mandate. Further, the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service states that “Public servants shall act at all times in a manner that will bear the closest public scrutiny; an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.” In our view, the Commissioner’s behaviour and actions do not pass the test of public scrutiny and are inappropriate and unacceptable for a public servant—most notably for the Agent of Parliament specifically charged with the responsibility of upholding integrity in the public sector and of protecting public servants from reprisal.

Subsequent Event

38. On 20 October 2010, PSIC announced that Christiane Ouimet retired from public service, effective 18 October 2010. We provided Ms. Ouimet with the opportunity to comment on a draft of our report, but we did not receive a response from her.

About the Audit

All of the audit work in this report was conducted in accordance with the standards for assurance engagements set by The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. While the Office adopts these standards as the minimum requirement for our audits, we also draw upon the standards and practices of other disciplines.

Objective

The objective of the audit was to investigate and assess the allegations pertaining to the conduct of the Commissioner as a deputy head—including her conduct and interactions with PSIC staff and the performance of her mandated functions—and to determine if her conduct and other actions are consistent with applicable legislation, government policies and public sector values and ethics.

Scope and approach

On 28 November 2008, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) received a disclosure under section 14 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA). The disclosure alleged wrongdoing on the part of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada, Christiane Ouimet (the Commissioner). The allegations pertained to the Commissioner’s behaviour as a deputy head, including her interactions with staff from the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada (PSIC), turnover of PSIC employees, performance pay decisions, and performance of her mandated functions.

On 30 April 2009, the OAG received a second disclosure under the PSDPA in relation to the Commissioner. This disclosure also alleged wrongdoing by the Commissioner relating to her conduct and to the performance of her mandated functions.

On 11 May 2009, the OAG ceased its investigations into the two disclosures and converted them into a performance audit under the Auditor General Act. This was done pursuant to sections 24 and 34 of the PSDPA. Specifically, the Auditor General was of the opinion that the investigations would involve obtaining information that was outside of the public sector. Section 34 of the PSDPA instructs that, in such situations, that part of the investigation must be ceased and referred to an authority that she considers competent to deal with it. The Auditor General was of the opinion that the subject matter of the disclosures (including the allegations of reprisal relating to the Commissioner’s actions) could more appropriately be dealt with through a performance audit under sections 5 and 7 of the Auditor General Act.

In the course of the audit, on 17 July 2009, the Auditor General received another complaint pertaining to the conduct of the Commissioner as a deputy head. This complaint raised allegations of retaliatory action (an allegation of reprisal can only be made under the PSDPA) taken by the Commissioner against the complainant in response to her belief that he was the, or one of the, original complainant(s), and that he had participated in our investigations and audit. The OAG included examination of this complaint in its ongoing performance audit.

The Commissioner was provided with a full opportunity to respond to the allegations against her. She was also given a full opportunity to provide us with additional information that she considered to be relevant to our audit. On 18 September 2009, we provided the Commissioner with documentation that we had collected in relation to the third complaint. We interviewed the Commissioner on 2 December 2009 to obtain her representations regarding these allegations. On 11 June 2010, we provided the Commissioner with documentation that we had collected in relation to the remainder of our performance audit. We interviewed the Commissioner on 13 and 14 September 2010 to obtain her representations regarding all allegations made against her by the complainants and others who had provided information to the OAG. The periods between each of the disclosures of evidence and the subsequent interviews were to provide the Commissioner with enough time to review the materials that the OAG provided to her in preparation for the interviews.

In the course of our audit, we met with 34 current and former PSIC employees, as well as with senior government officials and third parties. We reviewed documentation and communications on site at PSIC, and documentation at its service providers, the Canadian Human Rights Commission for financial administration services, and the Status of Women Canada for human resource services.

Period covered by the audit

The period covered by our audit was from 15 April 2007 to 31 July 2009. This period was chosen based on the allegations made in the three complaints. Audit work for this report was substantially completed on 8 October 2010.

Criteria

To investigate and assess the allegations pertaining to the conduct of the Commissioner as a deputy head—including her conduct and interactions with PSIC staff and the performance of her mandated functions—and to determine if her conduct and other actions are consistent with applicable legislation, government policies, and public sector values and ethics, we used the following criteria:
Criteria Sources

Human resource decisions and management practices of the Commissioner reflect the highest standards of ethical conduct as required by the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.

  • Public Service Employment Act
  • Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service, Treasury Board
  • Ethical Guidelines for Public Office Holders, Privy Council Office
  • Terms and Conditions of Employment for Full-Time Governor in Council Appointees, Privy Council Office

Human resource management practices of PSIC and of the Commissioner foster a respectful workplace for all PSIC employees.

  • Public Service Employment Act
  • Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service, Treasury Board
  • Policy on Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace, Treasury Board

Actions of the Commissioner raised reasonable grounds for believing that a reprisal was taken against a complainant.

  • Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
  • Privacy Act

PSIC has established, implemented, and monitored effective procedures and practices to receive, record, review, investigate, and otherwise deal with disclosures of wrongdoing and complaints made with respect to reprisals.

  • Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
  • Financial Administration Act, section 16.4

Investigations into allegations of wrongdoing or reprisal received by PSIC were conducted in accordance with the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

  • Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
  • Financial Administration Act, section 16.4

Performance management and compensation decisions conform to legislation and applicable government policies and are conducted in a fair, open, and transparent manner.

  • Financial Administration Act, section 12
  • Policy on the Management of Executives, Treasury Board
  • Directive on the Performance Management Program (PMP) for Executives, Treasury Board

PSIC management was provided with the opportunity to review and comment on the suitability of the criteria used in the audit. No response was received.

Audit team management

Deputy Auditor General: John Wiersema
Principal: Linda Drainville
Director: Mathieu Lefèvre

For information, please contact Communications at 613-995-3708 or 1-888-761-5953 (toll-free).

 

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