Letter ADM(RS): Concerning PSDPA

25 August 2015

 

Mr. Amipal Manchanda
ADM (RS)
Department of National Defence
66 Slater Street, 23-14
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K2

 

Dear Mr. Manchanda,

RE: Governance issues and the PSDPA

As you may be aware, I have been in discussions with the Deputy Minister to resolve a number of governance issues related to the operations of the Ombudsman Office. One of the outstanding issues relates to the management of disclosures pursuant to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA), a matter that falls within your area of responsibility.

The ADM (RS) is designated as the senior officer responsible for the implementation of the PSDPA and, more specifically, as the Internal Disclosure Office (IDO) for civilian public servants of the Department of National Defence (DND).  Under the current departmental designation, a disclosure of wrongdoing by an employee of the Ombudsman office could be directed to the IDO and would follow the established procedure, including investigation.

The governance implications of this departmental designation create operational challenges for the office of the Ombudsman in terms of its independent role within the defence portfolio. It also exposes both of our organizations to potential conflict of interest situations by entrusting two organizations within the defence portfolio oversight of each other. This would compromise the independence and credibility of any investigation by either organization.

To avoid the real and perceived governance issues, I propose that any allegation of wrongdoing brought by an employee of the office of the Ombudsman follow the procedures established in the DAODs 7024-0 and 7024-1 and the Disclosure of Wrongdoing Guidelines for the Department of National Defence Managers and Employees and Canadian Armed Forces Supervisors and Members (the Guidelines) with the modifications set out in the attached MOU. I have also attached an annotated process chart to illustrate the proposed modifications.

This proposal is consistent with the legislative scheme of the PSDPA, maintains the rights of employees, avoids potential for conflict of interest, and supports the operational independence of the Ombudsman.

Equally, this proposal ensures that the legislative responsibilities of the deputy head under the PSDPA and those of the departmental designate for the implementation of the legislation are not compromised.

Kindly review the proposal and get back to me at your earliest convenience.  It is my hope to have this matter settled as expeditiously as possible, when there is no complicating factor of an active file, and certainly before our October reporting to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts following the Auditor’s General’s report on my office.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

 

Gary Walbourne
Ombudsman

 

Enclosures (2):

(1)  Draft MOU with ADM(RS) & DND/CF Ombudsman
(2)  Annotated Process chart

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