Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act – Information on organizational public reporting obligations
The Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) requires a variety of public reports. The following people are required to report publicly:
- chief executives of the public sector organizations governed by the Act on the activities, in the portion of the public sector for which they are responsible, respecting disclosures made under section 12 of the Act
- the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) on an overview of the activities throughout the public sector respecting disclosures made under section 12 of the Act
- the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (PSIC) annually on its activities; on any matter he or she deems to be of sufficient importance or urgency as well as on the founded cases of wrongdoing
This guide is intended to assist organizations in preparing the public reports required by the Act, by describing these obligations.
Public reporting requirements for chief executives
If a disclosure to a supervisor or the senior officer leads to a finding of wrongdoing, the chief executive of the organization must, under paragraph 11(1)(c) of the Act, after confirming the finding of wrongdoing
- provide public access to information that describes the wrongdoing;
- indicate any recommendations that result from the finding of wrongdoing;
- report on any corrective action he or she has taken, or explain why no corrective action has been taken.
Reporting this information is in addition to the annual requirement to report to OCHRO on activity under the Act, as described below.
In describing the wrongdoing, the Act allows that, if not otherwise restricted by any other statute, chief executives may include information that might identify the person who committed the wrongdoing, only if required to describe the wrongdoing adequately. In those cases where it is not necessary to identify the wrongdoer, caution must be taken not to identify them inadvertently through other facts provided, such as by publication of their job title.
Paragraph 11(1)(c) does not require the chief executive to provide public access to information the disclosure of which is restricted under a federal statute.
The Act does not specify the means of “public access” that chief executives must use regarding a finding of wrongdoing, but the text of the Act suggests that the information should be made available in a form that a member of the public could find if making reasonable efforts to find it. Making the information available only on request, via the provisions of the Access to Information Act, would not suffice, since it requires a formal request for the information to be released.
Moreover, paragraph 11(1)(c) of the Act specifies that information must be made available promptly. The Treasury Board Secretariat has determined that information should normally be made public within 60 days from the day on which the chief executive confirms the finding of wrongdoing.
Reporting any founded wrongdoing should be proactive, for example, by:
- publishing the information on the organization's website
- including the information in another document produced by the organization, provided that the other document satisfies the requirement to report promptly
Recommendations for publishing information following a finding of wrongdoing
It is good practice to include the following components:
- Summarize the wrongdoing;
- List the recommendations made to the chief executive;
- Indicate the corrective action recommended; and
- Describe the implementation of the correction action,
- Then publish the information on the departmental website (e.g. under proactive disclosure)
Example of publicly reported findings of wrongdoing
A good example
Case of wrongdoing
Description of wrongdoing
A disclosure received under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act (PSDPA) involved two allegations, namely that an employee had regularly made improper personal use of a government asset and that the employee had violated the Act and breached the organizational code by encouraging a co-worker to help him. The employee allegedly used a government computer during paid working hours to prepare numerous personal documents. In addition, the employee allegedly encouraged a co-worker to help him prepare and print the personal documents.
The organization immediately took action and promptly launched an investigation. The investigation revealed that the employee had misused a public asset by making personal use of a computer; the employee had spent 44 hours on personal business during paid working hours. The investigation also revealed that the employee had encouraged a co-worker to prepare and print personal documents, thus breaching the organizational code and advising a co-worker to commit a misuse of public assets within the meaning of section 8 of the PSDPA. The investigation further revealed that the co-worker had refused to take part in the employee's wrongdoing.
The investigation report includes three recommendations involving administrative and disciplinary measures, as well as measures to restore integrity in the workplace.
Administrative measures were taken with the employee to recover the 44 hours of compensation due. The employee was also suspended for 10 days. To restore integrity in the work environment, a workshop on the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector and on the organizational code was presented to employees at that work location.
The example above includes key information, such as:
- the nature or description of the wrongdoing
- the nature of the recommendations made to the chief executive
- the corrective action taken or not taken
In order to be able to provide public access to information within sixty days of a finding of wrongdoing:
- Set up an internal procedure with Communications
- Note that the 60-day period begins when the chief executive confirms the finding of wrongdoing
- Determine who will write the text containing information for the public and who must approve the text
- Prepare text as soon as the chief executive confirms the finding of wrongdoing
- Submit the text for approval
- Make the information public
If recommendations have not been made or corrective action taken within the 60-day period, the information collected thus far should be made public and the missing information added later. A sentence such as “Information on recommendations or corrective measures will be added once they are determined” may be used.
The CHRO requests that chief executives notify OCHRO when there is a finding of wrongdoing within their organization and when information about the wrongdoing is made public.
Public reporting requirements for OCHRO
Within 60 days of the end of each fiscal year, chief executives must submit a report to the CHRO with respect to all disclosures made to supervisors or senior officers in their organization. Subsequently, within six months of the end of each fiscal year, and based on the reports from chief executives, the Chief Human Resources Officer will submit a report to the Minister responsible for OCHRO (the President of the Treasury Board) indicating:
- the number of enquiries received related to the Act
- the number of disclosures received and whether or not they were acted upon
- the number of investigations commenced
- whether or not any systemic problems were found that lead to wrongdoing
- any other matter deemed necessary by the CHRO
The Minister must then promptly table the report in each House of Parliament.
Public reporting requirements for the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Annual report of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
Within three months of the end of the fiscal year, the PSIC is required to prepare a report to Parliament on his or her activities (April to March inclusively), which will at a minimum contain:
- the number of enquiries received related to the Act
- information about the numbers and outcomes of disclosures of wrongdoing and reprisal complaints
- the numbers of investigations commenced
- the number of recommendations that the Commissioner has made and their status
- with respect to reprisal complaints, the numbers of settlements, applications to the Tribunal, and dismissed complaints
- a report of any systemic problems found that lead to wrongdoings
- recommendations for improvement
- any other matter deemed necessary by the PSIC
The PSIC may also prepare and submit special reports to Parliament at any time, on any matter he or she deems to be of sufficient importance or urgency that informing Parliament should not be deferred until the next annual report.
Reports of founded cases of wrongdoing
If, as a result of investigating a disclosure made under the Act, the PSIC determines that there was a wrongdoing, the PSIC will report this to the chief executive of the organization in which the wrongdoing occurred. Within 60 days, the PSIC will also submit a report on the founded case of wrongdoing to the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons, for prompt tabling in each House of Parliament. This report will include:
- the finding of wrongdoing
- any recommendations made to the chief executive (including any deadlines for responding to these recommendations)
- any comments regarding the chief executive's response to the finding of wrongdoing
- the chief executive's comments, as submitted in writing to the PSIC, if any
As jurisprudence and best practices evolve with regard to public reporting, this document will be updated accordingly.
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