The Auditor General of British Columbia issued a report on public service ethics management. Look past the softball packaging and find a situation that fails to meet the promises made by BC Liberal spin doctors.
It reminds me of grandfather’s old instruction, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Auditor General declarations:
- cannot report whether public service is ethical;
- 48% of employees said they received no ethical training;
- top reason for staff not reporting observed misconduct was fear of reprisal;
- 41% of employees feel pressure to compromise ethical standards;
- government needs to strengthen ethics leadership, training and advice;
- government needs to monitor and evaluate its controls over ethical conduct to ensure they’re working;
- government needs an overall framework to coordinate ethics management;
Auditor General recommends that government:
- ensure that all public servants regularly review and sign off that they understand both the Oath of Employment and the Standards of Conduct for Public Service Employees.
- implement an ethics training plan to ensure that all levels of staff are receiving appropriate and timely ethics training.
- ensure that ministries clearly formalize and communicate the role and responsibilities of ethics advisors to act as a point of contact and advise public servants on matters related to the standards of conduct.
- formally evaluate ethics risks as part of their regular risk reviews.
- provide employees with a way to report perceived unethical conduct where the process and protections are transparent and easy to understand, address the barriers to reporting, and where the individual who comes forward to report is informed of the outcome as far as appropriate.
- share with staff information on the types of allegations of misconduct raised, and action taken to address them.
- regularly evaluate the effectiveness of its controls to prevent, detect and correct misconduct, and address any gaps identified.
- clearly designate the lead role for coordinated ethics management across the public service.
In 2014, BC’s government claimed public sector organizations would operate under principles that strengthen accountability, promote cost control, and ensure the corporations operate in the best interest of taxpayers.
If you’ve read my work on BC Hydro, examined Bob Mackin’s frustrations with FOI or generally followed provincial politics, you would have known the claims were hollow from the start.
Now, three years later, the Auditor General confirms that assertion.