Case Summaries 2016-2017



Allegation of contravention of the conflict of interest rules (Referral)

It was alleged that public servants contravened the conflict of interest rules set out in O. Reg. 381/07 under the PSOA by taking ministry property for their own use. It was also alleged that the public servants’ manager engaged in gross mismanagement by not adequately addressing the concerns when first raised. The Commissioner referred the matter for investigation to the appropriate Ethics Executive. The investigation found that the public servants did not take ministry property and that the manager’s actions, while concerning, did not rise to wrongdoing as defined by the PSOA. The Commissioner was satisfied with the investigation report prepared by the ministry and made a number of recommendations, all of which were accepted by the ministry. This disclosure highlighted the need for managers to be able to identify and respond appropriately to concerns about potential wrongdoings.

 

Allegation of contravention of the conflict of interest rules (Referral)

It was alleged that a public servant contravened the conflict of interest rules set out in O. Reg. 381/07 under the PSOA by giving preferential treatment in the course of a hiring process. It was also alleged that two public servants engaged in gross mismanagement by concurrently serving multiple roles. The Commissioner referred the matter for investigation to the appropriate Ethics Executive at the public body. The investigation found that there was no wrongdoing. The Commissioner was satisfied with the investigation report prepared by the public body. Prior to the allegation being made to the Commissioner, the public body had determined that it would have an independent, external firm review the decision to combine certain public servant roles. The Commissioner requested and received the results of the external review. This disclosure highlighted concerns that may be created within an organization when public servants hold multiple roles within an organization.


Allegation of contravention of the conflict of interest rules (Referral)

It was alleged that public servants contravened the conflict of interest rules set out in O. Reg. 381/07 under the PSOA by using personal property to store government assets and conduct training activities. The Commissioner referred the matter for investigation to the appropriate Ethics Executive, who concluded that there was no wrongdoing because the public servants did not benefit from the activities, but did note that there was a perception of a conflict of interest. Although the Commissioner was not satisfied with the investigation, he determined that he would not be conducting his own investigation, because a further investigation was not needed to address the concerns that arose from the allegations. The Commissioner made a number of recommendations pursuant to section 121(1) of the PSOA, all of which were accepted. This disclosure identified concerns about the disposal of government assets.

 

Allegation of contravention of the conflict of interest rules (Referral)

It was alleged that a public servant contravened the conflict of interest rules set out in O. Reg. 381/07 under the PSOA by giving preferential treatment to former colleagues and associates in the course of multiple hiring processes. It was also alleged that the public servant engaged in gross mismanagement by inappropriately reporting information. The Commissioner referred the matter for investigation to the appropriate Ethics Executive. The investigation found the allegations of inappropriate reporting were unsubstantiated, but that there was a perception of preferential treatment during the hiring processes. The Commissioner was satisfied with the investigation, and made additional recommendations for conflict of interest training for public servants involved in hiring of staff. This disclosure highlighted the risk of the appearance of preferential treatment being given when former colleagues and associates are hired, and the importance of addressing this risk.

 

Allegation of contravention of the conflict of interest rules (Referral)

It was alleged that a public servant contravened the conflict of interest rules set out in O. Reg. 381/07 under the PSOA in the course of making procurement decisions. It was further alleged that public servants engaged in gross mismanagement by failing to take action when they became aware of a breach of the conflict of interest rules. The Commissioner referred the matter for investigation to the appropriate Ethics Executive. The investigation found that the breach of the conflict of interest rules was substantiated in part, that the allegation of gross mismanagement against one public servant was substantiated, and that the allegation of gross mismanagement against a second public servant was not substantiated because the conduct of the public servant did not amount to a wrongdoing as defined by the PSOA. The ministry took immediate steps to address the issues that were identified during the investigation and formulated a strategy for managing procurement-related risks in the long term. The Commissioner was satisfied with the investigation report prepared by the ministry and the remedial actions. This disclosure highlighted the risk of preferential treatment, or the appearance thereof, being given in the course of procurement decisions and the importance of having safeguards in place to guard against these risks.

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