Number of reports fall from 94 to 57 in one year
Released February 10 of this year, the 2013 annual report for the City of Calgary’s whistle-blower program states that in 2013 there were 57 reports submitted to the program, 37 fewer than the previous year. This is a deficit that the report attributes to the summer flooding in Calgary.
The whistle-blower program acts as a mechanism for members of the public or city employees to report and request inquiries into “allegations of waste and/or wrongdoing within the City.” It is also a channel that offers anonymity and complete confidentiality in both individual reports and investigations.
The 2013 annual report is one of the few ways to learn about the details of the tight-lipped program.
In a telephone interview, Jackie Di Salvo, manager of the whistle-blower program said that the office experienced very few calls during the months of the Calgary flooding.
The eighth page of the 15-page report highlights the flood’s impact stating, “Overall, the volume of the volume of whistle-blower program activity slightly decreased in 2013, especially during the flood.”
It also points out that only four reports were received from the end of June to the beginning of September. The program usually averages four to five reports per month.
In May 2007, City Council approved the whistle-blower policy. This led to the combined efforts of the city auditor and the city manager to develop the whistle-blower program the following month.
Since the program began, nearly 500 reports have been received.
Once the reports come in, some can be referred to different departments within City of Calgary offices, while some require an investigation.
According to Table 2 on page 10 of the document, of the 57 reports taken in 2013: 16 reports required no action, 15 went to the city auditor for investigation, eight were referred to management, seven were not yet assessed, five were referred to the audit committee chair, four were referred to outside agencies, one was referred to the Calgary Police and one was referred for potential audit.
David Danchuk, a spokesperson for the city manager’s office left a voicemail in response to a query.
“The 2013 annual report had actually no substantial issues that required police investigations,” Danchuk said.
However, of the 57 reports, 25 required further investigation. As the reports are examined, the assigned investigators determine what further action is needed in terms of procedure. According to page 13 of the document, these procedures “may include identifying sources, and types of evidence, gathering and reviewing relevant information, interviewing various parties and completing analysis on the information gathered to reach a conclusion.”
Investigations can also remain open until a final decision is reached, even if that means the report will be passed onto the next year.
In 2013 the whistle-blower program had 62 files open from 2012, opened 25 investigations and closed 21 investigations.
By Dec. 31, 2013, 66 investigations remained open. These files will remain open in 2014 and will be added to the workload on top of new reports expected to come in.
This pile up of unresolved investigations combined with new ones has stressed the system. Di Salvo mentioned that her program is facing limited resources and that with an increased budget the program could operate on a more “timely basis”.
The program is run out of the existing city auditor’s office budget. In 2013, the approximate costs were $176,000.
The adequacy of these funds will be reviewed as part of the City of Calgary action plan for 2015-18.
“Generally the purpose of the program is not actually about efficiency or finding ways to save money, it is more about wrongdoing,” Danchuk said.
The annual report also detailed a breakdown of information. This included how reports were received, the status of reports, how the reports were dealt with and investigation status.
The report also included charts of the types of allegation received.
Of the 25 investigations from the previous year that are still open:
– 5 are health and safety concerns
– 5 are sensitive reports
– 4 are time reporting
– 4 are human resources policies
– 2 are conflict of interest
– 2 are leadership/management
– 1 is procedures
– 1 is contracting policy
– 1 is procurement