It is not uncommon for agencies like ours, that make decisions in specific cases, to prepare and publish summaries of those decisions that are novel or interesting or that illustrate particularly well the statutory rules that the agencies apply.
Every year, in our annual report, our office publishes a number of decision summaries. They are not considered binding precedent, but are intended to assist public servants and ethics executives in consistently interpreting and applying the conflict of interest and political activity rules. And these are also made available on our internet site so they can be easily accessed. Needless to say, decision summaries are completely anonymized.
Over the years, our office has received a lot of positive feedback from members of the ethics community, including OPS ethics executives, legal counsel and staff, on the usefulness of these summaries.
However, other ethics executives, including agency chairs and deputy ministers, have the same statutory authority as I do to receive inquiries from employees of their respective organizations about application of the conflict-of-interest or political activity rules, and to make determinations on such inquiries. Our office is not an appeal or review body for such decisions.
And so it has always made sense to me to invite other ethics executives to provide our office with summaries of decisions made by them, and then to make them available on our internet site, together with our own. With the support and assistance of the Chief Administrative Officers’ Forum, we have now made this happen. We have collected 27 decision summaries from various ministry ethics executives. The particular value of these summaries is that they address ethics issues arising in the ministry context and may therefore be more useful and relatable for deputy ministers and their staffs.
These summaries can be found on our Decision Summaries internet page, under Other Ethics Executives. We hope to grow the number of summaries every year. Note that at present, the summaries are listed using the “nick names” we have given them. We are working with our technology cluster to develop a more useful search tool for decision summaries that will allow users to find relevant summaries quickly and easily.
We also hope to expand our collection to include decision summaries provided by agencies, which would provide yet another useful perspective for the benefit of this large and important sector.
We wish to thank the Chief Administrative Officers’ Forum for its support and assistance in this initiative, and especially Lydia Proctor, head of the Forum secretariat, and all the deputy ministers and their staffs who provided summaries this time round.