Expanded definition of “wrongdoing”
The Act previously identified “gross-mismanagement of public funds or a public asset” as a wrongdoing. This definition of wrongdoing has been repealed and replaced with:
3(1)(c) gross mismanagement, including an act or omission that is deliberate and that shows a reckless or wilful disregard for the proper management of
(i) public funds or a public asset,
(ii) the delivery of a public service, including the management or performance of
(A) a contract or arrangement identified or described in the regulations, including the duties resulting from the contract or arrangement or any funds administered or provided under the contract or arrangement, and
(B) the duties and powers resulting from an enactment identified or described in the regulations or any funds administered or provided as a result of the enactment,
(iii) employees, by a pattern of behaviour or conduct of a systemic nature that indicates a problem in the culture of the organization relating to bullying, harassment or intimidation.
What does this mean?
In addition to gross mismanagement of public funds or a public asset, the expanded definition of gross-mismanagement includes services provided under certain contracts or enactments which will be identified in the coming regulations.
The new definition also includes bullying, harassment or intimidation of employees; however, this is not intended to address individual complaints which arise in an organization and are appropriately managed through internal mechanisms. This expanded definition is intended to address circumstances of bullying, harassment or intimidation where internal mechanisms have failed, and the conduct has become systemic and cultural in the organization. This is supported through a subsequent provision in the Act stipulating the Public Interest Commissioner must be satisfied that all applicable mechanisms, including human resource processes or processes under a collective agreement, have been used or considered before investigating a disclosure relating to gross mismanagement of employees. [Sec 19(1.1)]
Moreover, the amendment now provides a specific definition of what actions qualify as “gross mismanagement”. Specifically, gross mismanagement occurs when an act or omission is deliberate, and shows a reckless or wilful disregard for proper management.
Chief Officers need to ensure their internal policy reflects this expanded definition of “gross mismanagement.”