APTN National News
OTTAWA–The federal department of Aboriginal Affairs’ internal watchdog unit found itself in the cross-hairs of a probe that found it broke rules, showed preferential treatment and did not adequately document its staffing and hiring decisions, according to internal documents obtained by APTN National News.
The department’s audit and evaluation sector is responsible for ensure the department’s internal operations are meeting the rules.
The Aboriginal Affairs’ audit and evaluation sector found itself the subject of an audit launched by the Public Service Commission of Canada into the way it handled the promotion, movement and hiring of staff between positions, according to a redacted copy of the audit obtained under the Access to Information Act.
The 2010 audit, which was triggered by a complaint, found a number of problems with eight of 10 staffing moves, including missing documents and a failure to follow the department’s own rules on staff appointments.
“The audit has identified significant deficiencies as demonstrated by a high level of non-compliance in the controls over the appointment processes,” says a Nov. 19, 2010, dated letter from Maria Barrados, president of the Public Service Commission of Canada (PSCC), to Michael Wernick, deputy minister for the department.
The department said in an email statement that it has tightened things up.
“AAND has established an action plan including corrective measures,” said the emailed statement, which contained technical information.
The PSCC audit found that two of the individuals appointed by the department’s internal watchdog did not meet “essential qualifications for the work” including proficiency in English and French and “any other merit criteria identified for the appointment.”
The audit also found missing supporting documentation on how the appointed individual met the criteria for the position, missing proof of education and, in one case, no appointment file at all.
“We expected that the process of assessing and appointing a person would respect the guiding values of fairness, transparency, access and representativeness,” said the audit. “We found that there was little consideration of the guiding values within the appointment process.”
The audit found that there was evidence of preferential treatment in six of the 10 reviewed appointments and no evidence the person met qualifications for the job in eight of the 10 appointments.
In 2008, the sector investigated a multi-million dollar plan to dismantle the department’s Manitoba regional office. The audit lead to two senior department officials being marched out of their offices.
The Framework Agreement Initiative on the Dismantling of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern development was terminated in 2007 after the government spent tens of millions of dollars on the project that began in 1994. The initiative aimed at handing control over department programs to Manitoba First Nations.
The audit and evaluation sector is headed by former Privy Council official Anne Scotton.