The B.C. government has released its report into the draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan.
The report identifies that partisan activity among some officials breached the public service standards of conduct and some government resources were misused.
Premier Christy Clark ordered the review into the circumstances around the development of and activities flowing from the multicultural outreach plan to determine whether government resources were misused or standards of conduct were violated.
The report shows:
- Some officials did not draw a boundary between their partisan and government roles.
- Inappropriate activity occurred around the procurement of community liaison contractors.
- Community liaison contractors were given work before contracts were approved and signed, resulting in payment for work done when the contract process was cancelled.
- Confidential information-such as contact lists from government events-was inappropriately sent to personal email accounts.
There were two serious instances of government resources being misused.
The four deputy ministers conducted the review in 14 days. They conducted 27 interviews, gathered approximately 10,000 pages of documents for cataloguing and analysis, and directed a forensic analysis of electronic data from government systems.
The report recommendations include:
- Consider the involvement and culpability of each of the political staff involved in the events discussed in the report and take appropriate disciplinary and corrective action.
- Ensure that senior staff set expectations among political staff that all existing financial and administrative policies on procurement and supervision of contract staff be followed without exception.
- Give direction particularly to political and communications staff to ensure they understand their obligations with respect to the use of government email and the appropriate use of personal computers for government purposes, as outlined in Government Core Policy.
- Direct Legal Services Branch to secure any government records in the possession of former employees named in this report and seek an undertaking these records have not been used for inappropriate purposes.
- Improve the standards of conduct for political staff.
- Direct the Comptroller General to determine if any recovery of expenditure or payment is necessary.
All of the review team's requests for interviews were granted, including from those outside the public service and those no longer employed with government. The review team experienced no obstacles to obtaining the information required to prepare a thorough and complete report.
The review team comprised the most senior public servants who have the full authority over all government financial transactions, public service conduct and government resources and records policy.
With the completion of this review, the review team has directed the approximately 10,000 pages of records be prepared for public release consistent with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act within 60 working days from release of this report, to post them on the Open Information website.
Apart from the employees specifically named in the analysis and the conclusion section of the report, the review team found that the other employees identified acted with integrity and in an exemplary manner in all aspects of their work and their involvement with the issues discussed in this report.
- All persons and organizations covered by the Public Service Act are required to comply with the Standards of Conduct as a condition of employment: www.bcpublicserviceagency.gov.bc.ca/policy/HR_policy/09_Standards_Conduct.htm
- Appropriate use of government resources including information technology is covered under section 12.3.1 of government's Core Policy: www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/fmb/manuals/CPM/12_Info_Mgmt_and_Info_Tech.htm#1231
A backgrounder follows.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Recommendations, scope, process and terms of reference
Recommendation 1: The Chief of Staff should consider the involvement and culpability of each of the political staff engaged in the events discussed in this report and take appropriate disciplinary and corrective action. These actions must consider other appropriate factors including the level of their participation, authority in the organization and their employment record.
Recommendation 2: The Chief of Staff should set expectations for all political staff to ensure that all financial and administrative policies of government pertaining to procurement, records management and the supervision of government contractors are followed without exception.
Recommendation 3: Specific direction should be provided to all staff employed in ministers' offices and in Government Communications and Public Engagement to ensure that they understand their obligations with respect to the use of government email and the appropriate use of personal computers for government purposes, as outlined in Government Core Policy.
Recommendation 4: The Legal Services Branch of the Ministry of Justice should take appropriate action to secure any government records in the possession of former public servants or caucus employees named in this report and seek an undertaking that these records have not been used for inappropriate purposes.
Recommendation 5: The Head of the Public Service Agency should conduct a review of the various policies in place to govern the Standards of Conduct for both political and public service staff across other Canadian and international jurisdictions and make recommendations to the Cabinet on potential legislative and policy changes in BC.
Recommendation 6: As required by the Financial Administration Act, Section 33.2, the findings in this report will be referred to the Comptroller General to determine if any recovery of expenditures or payments is necessary.
Review scope: The scope of the review included government, partisan or caucus activities that relate directly to the use of government funds, activities by government employees using government resources or direction to government employees based on non-government policies.
Review process: The review team followed the following steps in undertaking this review:
- Records gathering, including a review of all general administrative records, personnel and related financial records and Treasury Board records through:
- An electronic search of all potential documents.
- A paper records search.
- A review of the chronology of events.
- The development of a list of people named or involved and assessment of their roles.
- The development of a framework for interviews and interview questions.
- Conduct twenty eight interviews.
- Collation and analysis of the findings.
- The preparation of this report.
Terms of Reference
On Feb. 28, 2013, Premier Christy Clark asked John Dyble, Deputy Minister to the Premier, Cabinet Secretary and head of the B.C. Public Service, to conduct a review of the draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan to ensure that no government resources were inappropriately used, nor violations of the Public Service Act (Public Service Standards of Conduct) committed.
The written report once completed will be made public.
Terms of Reference:
- Conduct interviews and review all documents and information related to the draft multicultural strategic outreach plan.
- Scope of the review is to include the Premier's Office, Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism; Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training; Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat; Government Communications and Public Engagement and relevant ministers' offices.
- Review to be conducted immediately with findings reported as expeditiously as possible.
- Provide written report.
Lead Reviewer: John Dyble, Deputy Minister to the Premier, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the BC Public Service
- Peter Milburn, Deputy Minister of Finance: Finances and Expenditures of Government.
- Lynda Tarras, Head, BC Public Service Agency: Human Resources and Public Service Standards of Conduct.
- Kim Henderson, Deputy Minister, Citizens' Services and Open Government: Resources and Records.
Government Communications and Public Engagement
*Documents related to the Review of the Draft Multicultural Strategic Outreach Plan were released on June 11, 2013.