Letter to DM Requesting Action Plan on “A Path Forward” Report

17 November 2017

Ms. Jody Thomas
Deputy Minister of National Defence
National Defence Headquarters
Major-General George R. Pearkes Building
13th floor, North Tower
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K2

 

Dear Ms. Thomas,

Re: Ministerial response to A Path Forward – Action Plan for the Office of the Ombudsman

I am in receipt of the Minister’s response to my report, expressing his view that it provides the basis for continued collaboration and opportunity for our respective offices.

Accordingly, I would like to request your action plan for each of the recommendations listed in the report by 15 December 2017. I have enclosed a copy of the list of recommendations for your ease of reference. Additionally, I am happy to make the subject matter experts in my office available to expedite this process.

I believe that, working in collaboration, we can have the instruments in place by the end of this fiscal year. That will coincide with the start of the fifth year of my mandate, during which time the office has seen its operating authorities altered and reduced.

To be sustainable as an independent organization serving our DND and CAF constituents, the office of the Ombudsman requires clear, consistent and stable authorities, which will be a result of the implementation of the recommendations proposed.

I look forward to your response. 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Gary Walbourne

Ombudsman

cc. Minister of National Defence

Enclosure

 


 

A PATH FORWARD

List of Recommendations

IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT:

  1. a Defence Administrative Order and Directive supporting the Ministerial Directives be drafted and issued, acknowledging the principles of ombudsmanry and setting out the rationale that will guide the issuance of delegations for the Ombudsman by successive Deputy Ministers.
  2. where an audit finds that a member of the Ombudsman’s staff has improperly exercised delegated authorities, appropriate remedial measures be taken by the Ombudsman in consultation and agreement with the Deputy Minister, including the Deputy Minister’s withdrawal of the designation.
  3. the delegation instruments for the office of the Ombudsman be self-contained and kept separate from those of the Department, as was previously the case.
  4. the Ombudsman and Deputy Minister conclude a Memorandum of Understanding establishing periodic audits by the Department of the exercise of financial and human resource delegations by the office of the Ombudsman.
  5. the Ombudsman’s business plan be submitted to and approved by the Minister of National Defence, to whom he reports, and that the Ombudsman’s fully justified annual budget submission be filed with the Department. 
  6. the contracting thresholds for the office of the Ombudsman be reinstated, at a minimum, to pre-2015 amounts.
  7.      
    1. the expenditure threshold for travel and hospitality for the office of the Ombudsman be approved as submitted, understanding that the submission will include a margin to allow for contingencies;
    2. the hospitality threshold is approved in accordance with the Ombudsman’s submission; and
    3. exceptions be managed on a case by case basis by the Ombudsman and Deputy Minister.
  8. the Department reinstate, in accordance with the Ministerial Directives, the practice of reporting the Ombudsman’s annual budget as a separate line item in the Department’s Main Estimates.
  9.      
    1. delegations or sub-delegations, as the case may be, related to human resource and labour relations for the office of the Ombudsman be reinstated, at a minimum, to those existing before 2015 and more specifically with the authorities set out in Annex E of this report;
    2. the Ombudsman and the Deputy Minister conclude a Memorandum of Understanding establishing periodic audits of the human resource and labour relations files of the office of the Ombudsman by the Department; and
    3. where an audit finds non-compliance, corrective action is discussed and agreed upon by the Deputy Minister and Ombudsman.
  10. the position of Human Resource Officer, internal to the office of the Ombudsman, be restored with full access to the necessary human resource systems of the Department.
  11. where the expertise in human resource classification for small organizations is required and/or a unique job description is needed for a position in the office of the Ombudsman, the matter be outsourced to the Shared Human Resources Services offered by the Public Services and Procurement Canada.
  12.      
    1. the designation be reinstated to authorize the Ombudsman to act as final level in the grievance process for staff of the office of the Ombudsman;
    2. a limitation be included to the effect that the Ombudsman shall recuse himself or herself from any grievance related to his or her actions or decisions; and
    3. a third party outside of the departmental framework be designated as the final level in the grievance process for grievances related to the Ombudsman’s actions or decisions.
  13. the authority for dealing with Informal Conflict Management Systems for the office of the Ombudsman be formally delegated to the Ombudsman.
  14. the Policy on Harassment Prevention and Resolution (DAOD 5012-0) be amended to state that the harassment prevention and resolution program for the office of the Ombudsman will be managed by the Harassment Advisor internal to the office of the Ombudsman.
  15.      
    1. the authority to deal directly with the Canadian Human Rights Commission be fully reinstated including the right to negotiate settlements and approve ex gratia payments;
    2. the Ombudsman keep the Director General Workplace Management advised with respect to milestones in the human rights complaints management process; and
    3. the Ombudsman’s General Counsel consult with the DND-CF Legal Advisor with respect to potential quantum of damages and establish a margin for negotiation and settlement for complaints under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
  16.      
    1.  the DAOD 7024-1 be amended to outsource any investigation under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act related to the office of the Ombudsman to a mutually acceptable third party;
    2. the Ombudsman, in consultation with the Deputy Minister where appropriate, take remedial measures where an investigation finds wrongdoing on the part of a member of the Ombudsman’s staff; and
    3. where a disclosure is alleged against the Ombudsman, a Governor in Council appointee, the matter be referred to a neutral third party outside of the departmental framework.
  17. the Ombudsman’s designation for ATIP be renewed by the Minister of National Defence.
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