Letter to DM: Concerning Public Accounts Response

5 October 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 and response to Public Accounts Committee

This is further to my letters of May 27, July 31, and August 25 of this year regarding the outstanding delegations needed for me to be fully functional in the role of DND/CF Ombudsman for which I was appointed by the Governor in Council in April 2014. I also refer you to the Spring 2015 report of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) which recommended that our offices work jointly to define and document governance issues such that they do not impede the operational independence of this office.

After 19 months in office without the full complement of delegated authorities, I believe that the operational independence of my office and my ability to manage the performance of my employees are being undermined. This state of affairs neither reflects the discussions that we have had nor the commitments that we made in our respective responses to the OAG audit recommendations. Consequently, I request that you intervene directly to ensure that there is no further delay in resolving this matter.

As repeatedly acknowledged, the administration of the DND/CF Ombudsman functions within the legislative and policy framework of the department for which you are ultimately responsible.  As such there is a responsibility on the department to ensure that the delegated authorities are appropriately exercised. However, unilaterally withholding and/or removing previously held delegations have a direct impact on how my office is run.

There are three outstanding delegations that need to be resolved without further delay and certainly before sending our response to the Public Accounts Committee on the progress made since the OAG audit report.

  1. Reinstate previously held authority to respond to Canadian Human Right Commission complaints that may arise within the Ombudsman office.
  2. Reinstate previously held third level authority subject to a limitation in cases where the Ombudsman’s objectivity might be compromised.
  3. Respond to the governance proposal I put forward with respect to potential disclosures under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.

The reasoning supporting each of these governance issues has been fully detailed in previous correspondence and has been the subject of discussions at various levels of our organizations. Leaving these issues unresolved until an authority needs to be exercised or until a conflict situation arises that compromises the investigative credibility of both our organizations is an unnecessary risk. 

I am attaching, for your information, my response to the Public Accounts Committee which is due on October 28. I would prefer to redraft the relevant responses to indicate that the recommendations of the Auditor General have been fully implemented.

I am available as required, and my staff stands ready, to finalize the outstanding governance issues.



Gary Walbourne


c.c.  Minister of National Defence


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