An independent review of the work conducted by the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner when Christiane Ouimet was in charge mirrors a report by the auditor general which suggested Ouimet bungled her job.
The audit, conducted for the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner and addressed to its interim commissioner, found problems with the way Ouimet handled her responsibilities while commissioner.
Public and parliamentary interest in Ouimet surged when she abruptly quit her job in October, less than halfway through her seven-year contract, and just as Auditor General Sheila Fraser was conducting her investigation.
Her competence and ability to manage her office were questioned by members of the House of Commons, whistleblower advocacy groups and the auditor general.
Ouimet was appointed commissioner in April 2007 and tasked with protecting government whistleblowers seeking to disclose wrongdoing in the federal public sector.
When she quit the post, she walked away with a $530,000 severance package and an agreement to not speak publicly about her time as commissioner.
Fraser's report, released just weeks after Ouimet's October departure, blasted the commissioner for failing to properly do her job after finding the office — which has an $11-million budget — investigated only seven of 228 complaints filed during Ouimet's tenure. No allegations of wrongdoing or complaints of reprisal were founded.
Appearing before a House committee in March, Ouimet said the report was incorrect and that she had, in fact, performed her job almost without flaw.
Following the release of Fraser's report, the interim commissioner, Mario Dion, commissioned a third-party review of all the files that had been opened and closed since the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner was created.
The Deloitte and Touche review looked at 221 closed files, and identified problems in 70, with some proving more problematic than others.
Because several files had a number of issues, the audit identified a total of 114 problems.
The number of files flagged with problems decreased each year that the office was operational, dropping to 10.5 per cent in 2010-11 from 44 per cent in 2007-08. But the number of total files opened also decreased, dropping to 19 in 2010-11 from 77 in 2007-08.
Some of the problems the Deloitte review identified include:
- In 25 files, the office did not address every concern the discloser raised.
- In 31 files, there was a lack of analysis to support the conclusions.
- In 32 files, there wasn't enough documentation to support the conclusions.
Fraser's December 2010 report took two years to complete and investigated 86 closed cases, her office has said.
The Deloitte review took months and was sent to Dion on March 3, but was only released this week.
The commissioner's office said it will retain the help of two lawyers, Holly Holtman and Doug Ewart, as special advisers to review and advise the commissioner on appropriate action to take on the 70 cases identified in the third-party audit.
All decisions are expected to be made by fall, the office said in a statement.
After that, the whistleblowers will be contacted and asked whether they wish to proceed with actions that could include reopening the files or conducting investigations.