Response from the Minister of National Defence Re: The Case for a Permanent and Independent Ombudsman Office

28 March 2017

 

Mr. Gary Walbourne
National Defence and
Canadian Armed Forces Ombudsman
100 Metcalfe Street, 12th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 5M1

 

Dear Mr. Walbourne:

Thank you for your letter of February 20, 2017 and the accompanying report, The Case for a Permanent and Independent Ombudsman Office.

I value the mandate and operational independence of the Ombudsman’s Office.  That is why you have a direct reporting relationship to me outside the military and civilian chains of command of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.  However, financial and human resources authorities are delegated to you through the Deputy Minister by virtue of the Financial Administration Act.

In his Spring 2015 report, the Auditor General found issues with past exercise of financial and human resource authorities in the Ombudsman’s Office and the need for better oversight by the Department.  The Auditor General also highlighted the need for both the Department and the Ombudsman’s Office to work together on matters related to administrative functions. I understand that you and the Deputy Minister have been working to address the concerns of the Auditor General.

The Office of the Ombudsman is delegated financial, human resources, and administrative authorities consistent with the Financial Administration Act. In my view, both the provision of administrative services and the delegated authorities that accompany them, support the requirements of your office.  In addition, this model mirrors almost all other similar offices across government and meets the test of proper stewardship of resources.

The perspectives you share within your report are important, especially where they concern the independence of your function and the quality of advice you provide to me as a result. If ever you feel that your ability to carry out your duties is being constrained by the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Armed Forces, I would encourage you to make full use of your direct reporting relationship to make the situation known to me.

I am fully confident that you, the Deputy Minister, and other senior managers within the Department will continue to build and improve upon the processes in place to ensure the sound stewardship and efficient use of public resources.

I thank you for sharing this report with me and look forward to our future discussions.

Yours sincerely,

 

The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, MP

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