Letter DM: Concerning PSDPA

25 August 2015

 

Mr. John Forster
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 Mr. Forster,

RE: outstanding governance issues

This is further to my letter of 31 July 2015 regarding the outstanding governance issues and authorities that I require to be fully functional in my role as DND/CF Ombudsman.

Status

As you are aware, I met with ADM (HR-Civ) on 11 August 2015 regarding the action necessary to reinstate previously held authorities for third level grievances and the human rights issues within my Office.  I will be following up with ADM (HR-Civ) regarding the status of this file in hopes that a resolution can be expedited.

I have finalized the MOU with the Department of Justice who will provide informal conflict of management services as per the draft that I provided to you with my letter of 31 July 2015.

PSDPA

I had committed to getting back to you with a proposal for addressing the governance implications of the current departmental designation under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

As you are aware, the ADM (RS) is designated as the senior officer responsible for the implementation of the legislation, including receiving, investigating and reporting on disclosures from civilian public servants. While ADM (RS) has legitimate authority for the DND, if exercised with respect to the Office of the Ombudsman, there is a potential for a conflict of interest 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.

By adjusting the current procedures established for Department of National Defence, it is possible to remain consistent with the legislative scheme of the PSDPA, maintain the rights of employees, and avoid potential for conflicts of interest. I have enclosed the draft MOU for your consideration as well as an annotated process chart to illustrate the adjustments that I am proposing. This MOU both supports the operational independence of the Ombudsman and respects your role as deputy head under the PSDPA.

I appreciate that you will need to consult with your team, but also wish to highlight our mutual interest in resolving all outstanding governance matters before any of the associated redress mechanisms are accessed and before reporting in October to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts following the Auditor General’s report on this office. I have also enclosed, for you information, the letter that I will be sending to the ADM (RS) regarding the proposed way forward.

Sincerely,

 

Gary Walbourne
Ombudsman

 

Enclosures (3):

(1)  Draft MOU with ADM (RS)
(2)  Annotated Process Chart
(3)  Letter on way forward to ADM (RS)

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