Related policies and guidance
- National Defence Act, Part V.1
- Security of Information Act
- Canada Labour Code, Part II
- Canada Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Regulations
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Criminal Code
- Federal Accountability Act
- Financial Administration Act
- Policy on Harassment Prevention and Resolution
- Official Languages Act and Regulations
- Public Service Labour Relations Act
- Copyright Act, s.12
- Public Servants Inventions Act, s.3
- Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
- Access to Information Act
- Privacy Act
CSE Ethics Charter
The CSE Ethics Charter defines the values and ethics and expected behaviours of employees of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSE) to guide and support CSE employees in their professional activities. The content of this document emphasizes the importance of employees making value-based decisions and conducting their duties in an ethical and professional manner.
Values and ethics play a fundamental role in transforming a sound culture and ensuring long-term organizational success. This is especially relevant to a government organization where transparency is not discretionary and public trust is paramount.
We are all responsible for preserving public confidence in the integrity of management and operations within the organization. Prerequisites for success in this regard, beyond a robust accountability structure, include the exercise of ethical conduct and political neutrality.
Within this context, the Chief, CSE, in consultation with the CSE Executive Management Team, has identified key values to guide employees in their conduct and decision making, and has approved the CSE Ethics Charter as a means to convey these values. In addition, this document captures the significant contributions of CSE employees, at all levels and across all business lines, that have helped to articulate the corresponding behaviours expected from all employees. You will see that respect is an inherent element of each of our new values and remains an important overarching element.
The latter sections provide policy and guidance on Conflict of Interest, Post-Employment Measures and the Disclosure of Wrongdoing.
The effective date is January 28 2014
The doctrine and guidance within this document apply to all employees of CSE (including term, indeterminate, secondment, interchange employees, employees posted abroad and students), independent of position or level.
Values And expected behaviours
“Operating scrupulously within the laws of Canada”
As CSE employees we:
- Understand the principles and requirements behind the Canadian laws, our legislation and the policies that drive us
- Respect and protect the privacy of Canadians in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, our legislation, and privacy laws of Canada
- Maintain the oath of secrecy as well as the highest standards of security
- Understand that review authorities are critical and we must be accountable and transparent in our dealings with them
- Accept the responsibility to seek clarity or raise concerns in order to ensure we are compliant with policies and legal guidance
Why this matters!
It is our obligation to uphold democratic values and to perform our official duties in a manner that maintains public confidence and trust in the integrity of CSE and the Government of Canada.
“Consistently behaving with the highest standards of respect and professionalism as stewards of public confidence”
As CSE employees we:
- Earn the trust of each other by being honest, forthright and transparent; honouring our commitments, and respecting confidences
- Recognize that the trust of Canadians in CSE depends on the integrity of each and every employee
- Understand where and how our own judgment can be applied; we accept accountability for these instances and the responsibility to escalate a decision when appropriate
- Act in a manner that upholds our proud reputation
- Act in a manner that demonstrates objectivity and political neutrality in a fashion that cannot be interpreted as biased or influenced by personal gain
- Take responsibility for our respective roles and of our individual contributions to the success of CSE
- Know that we need not ‘go it alone’ when resolving dilemmas or when there may be ethical uncertainty
Why this matters!
We all lead by example.
“Making audacious and inspired ideas come to life”
As CSE employees we:
- Dare to differentiate the organization in new and innovative ways that strengthen our value and reputation
- Support each other in bringing new ideas to life and in respectfully challenging the status quo
- Appreciate that great ideas are not exclusive to rank or turf and are free of alliances; we will listen to everyone
- Build on the accomplishments of those who preceded us to advance our mission in new and exciting ways
- Demonstrate value in the delivery of innovative and leading edge results
- Always strive to be at the forefront of new technology and are open to advancement
Why this matters!
Maintaining our relevance in the future is as much about radical breakthroughs as it is incremental improvements.
“Anticipating and embracing change”
As CSE employees we:
- Seek to anticipate how, when and why our environment is changing to inform and adapt our strategies and plans
- Look for opportunities which change brings to our organization, and seize those which help us to achieve our mission
- Use principles-based policies to enable maximum flexibility
- Strike the right balance between planning and responding
- Rapidly form multi-skilled teams to solve problems swiftly and effectively
Why this matters!
We operate in an ever-changing reality; our relevance depends upon our ability to respond.
“Taking care of ourselves, our infrastructure, our neighbours and the environment“
As CSE employees we:
- Understand our part within the whole and are accountable for delivery
- Fulfill our potential as part of CSE’s world class workforce
- Value each other and seek to create a healthy, safe, engaging working environment
- Acknowledge and learn from our mistakes
- Extend community and goodwill to our neighbours
- Build on our past, remembering the ideas and decisions that shaped us and work hard to sustain our proud reputation
- Operate in a manner that is respectful to our environment and will not compromise our future
Why this matters!
Building on yesterday; to be resilient today; to be ready for tomorrow.
“Building diverse relationships and working toward common goals”
As CSE employees we:
- Value and respect each other’s unique capacity to contribute
- Invest time to collaborate with others to achieve our mission
- Seek partners in government, academia and industry
- Are stewards, not owners, of the roles and tasks entrusted to us
- Respectfully challenge, question and express our business-related views without fear of negative consequences
- Respectfully accept challenges
- Recognize that our success is achieved by embracing differences and valuing diversity
Why this matters!
We are better together.
Conflict of interest
To establish rules of conduct respecting conflict of interest and to minimize the possibility of conflicts arising between private interests and the duties of employees and CSE.
Measures To prevent conflict of interest
Avoiding and preventing situations that could give rise to a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, is one of the primary means by which employees maintain public confidence in the impartiality and objectivity of CSE. To this end, and to protect employees from conflict of interest allegations, CSE has established the measures described below.
It is incumbent on the employee to disclose in a Confidential Report information regarding assets, liabilities and trusts that pose a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest. (Examples can be found in the ‘What if …?’ Section).
Conflict of interest does not relate exclusively to matters concerning financial transactions and the transfer of economic benefit. While financial activity is important, it is not the only source of potential conflict of interest situations. For example, conflict of interest can relate to such activities as participation in a decision-making or policy process, the results of which could favourably affect the employee’s private interests or those of a family member or friend. Depending upon the nature and timing of the situation, the employee could ask to withdraw from such participation for this reason or could disclose the situation in a Confidential Report, to his/her manager or to other decision-makers. The key principle is to ensure that the circumstances are known so they can be appropriately dealt with. This reduces the risk of an impropriety occurring and also helps protect the employee and the organization from suspicion or allegations of impropriety.
It is impossible to describe every situation that could give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict. When in doubt, employees should seek guidance from their manager or from the Director General, Audit, Evaluation and Ethics (DGAEE), and refer to the CSE Values, as well as the following measures, as benchmarks against which to gauge appropriate action.
Employees have the following obligations:
Employees must report, within 60 days of their first appointment or any subsequent appointment, transfer or deployment, all outside activities, assets and direct contingent liabilities that might give rise to a conflict of interest with respect to their official duties or CSE duties. If a reasonable likelihood of a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists, a Confidential Report must be filed with the DGAEE.
Any time there is a significant change to an employee’s personal affairs or official duties, the employee must review his/her obligations under this Code. If a reasonable likelihood of a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists, the employee must file a new Confidential Report with the DGAEE.
When negotiating financial arrangements with outside parties, employees must ensure compliance with the Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment Measures in accordance with this Code and other applicable policies and directives on this matter. When in doubt, employees must immediately report the situation to their manager in order to seek advice or direction on how to proceed.
In carrying out their official duties, employees shall arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest from arising.
If a conflict does arise between the private interests and the official duties of an employee, the conflict shall be resolved in favour of the public interest.
Employees shall not:
- have private interests, other than those permitted pursuant to these measures that would be affected particularly or significantly by government actions in which they participate;
- solicit or accept gifts, other benefits or hospitality;
- step out of their official roles to assist private entities or persons in their dealings with the government where this would result in preferential treatment to the entities or persons;
- knowingly take advantage of, or seek personal gain from, information that is obtained in the course of their official duties and that is not generally available to the public; or
- directly or indirectly use or allow the use of government property of any kind, including property leased to the government, for anything other than officially approved activities.
Methods of compliance
For an employee to comply with these measures, it will usually be sufficient to submit a Confidential Report to the DGAEE or, in certain instances, to otherwise disclose openly the potential, apparent or real conflict of interest. The Confidential Report outlines the employee's ownership of assets, receipt of gifts, hospitality or other benefits, or participation in any outside employment or activities that could give rise to a conflict of interest.
There will be instances, however, where other measures will be necessary. These include the following:
- avoiding or withdrawing from activities or situations that would place the employee in real, potential or apparent conflict of interest with his or her official duties; and
- having an asset sold at arm's length or placed in a blind trust where continued ownership would constitute a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest with the employee's official duties.
In such cases, the Chief, CSE or delegated official will make the decision and ensure it is communicated to the employee. In determining the appropriate action, the Chief, CSE or delegated official will strive to achieve mutual agreement with the employee and will take into account such factors as the:
- employee's specific responsibilities;
- value and types of assets and interests involved; and
- actual costs to be incurred by divesting the assets and interests, relative to the potential that the assets and interests represent for a conflict of interest.
The following provisions are designed to ensure that the CSE Ethics Charter is consistent with paragraph 121(1)(c) of the Criminal Code, which states the following:
“... every one commits an offence who, being an official or employee of the government, demands, accepts, or offers or agrees to accept, from a person who has dealings with the government, a commission, reward, advantage or benefit of any kind directly or indirectly, by himself or through a member of his family or through any one for his benefit, unless he has the consent in writing of the head of the branch of government that employs him or of which he is an official, the proof of which lies on him.”
The type of assets and interests that should be included in a Confidential Report, those that need not be declared, and procedures for divesting assets are set out in this document.
Note: An employee may not sell or transfer assets to family members or others for the purpose of circumventing compliance measures.
Outside employment Or activities
Employees may engage in employment outside CSE and take part in outside activities, unless the employment or activities are likely to give rise to a conflict of interest or in any way undermine CSE’s neutrality.
Where outside employment or activities might subject employees to demands incompatible with their official duties, or cast doubt on their ability to perform their duties in a completely objective manner, they shall submit a Confidential Report to the DGAEE. The Chief, CSE or delegated official, upon consultation by the DGAEE, may require that the outside activities be curtailed, modified or terminated if it is determined that a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest exists.
Gifts, hospitality and other benefits
Employees are called upon to use their best judgment to avoid situations of real, apparent or potential conflict. Employees should consider the following criteria on gifts, hospitality and other benefits, keeping in mind the full context of this Code.
Employees shall not accept or solicit any gifts, hospitality or other benefits that may have a real, apparent or potential influence on their objectivity in carrying out their official duties or that may place them under obligation to the donor. This includes, but is not limited to, gift baskets, discounts or free or discounted admission to sporting and cultural events arising out of an actual or potential business relationship directly related to the employee's official duties.
The acceptance of gifts, hospitality and other benefits is only permissible if they are infrequent and of minimal value (e.g., low-cost promotional objects such as inexpensive pens, pads of paper, inexpensive portfolios, canvas bags , occasional inexpensive meals provided during the course of a business meeting during normal working hours, souvenirs with no cash value); arise out of activities or events related to the official duties of the employee concerned; are within the normal standards of courtesy, hospitality or protocol; and do not compromise or appear to compromise the integrity of the employee concerned or the organization.
Where it is impossible to decline gifts, hospitality, and any other benefits that do not meet the principles set out above, or where it is believed that there is sufficient benefit to the organization to warrant acceptance of certain types of gifts, hospitality or other benefits, an employee shall seek, via the DGAEE, written direction from the Chief, CSE or delegated official. The DGAEE will then notify the employee in writing whether the gifts, hospitality and other benefits are to be declined or retained by the organization, donated to charity, disposed of, or retained by the employee concerned.
The request for written direction shall specify the following:
- the originator of the gift, hospitality or benefit;
- the business relationship between the originator and CSE;
- the nature of the gift, hospitality or benefit; and
- why it is impossible to decline the gift, hospitality or benefit or why it is believed that there is sufficient benefit to the organization to warrant their acceptance.
For greater certainty, unless the employee declines it, a request for written direction is mandatory in all cases where the gift, hospitality or benefit :
- is offered by a person or corporation having business dealings with CSE, including but not limited to:
- persons or corporations under contract with CSE at the time of the offer;
- persons or corporations invited to bid on a request for proposal for a contract for CSE; or
- persons or corporations who have made a proposal in response to a request for proposal for a contract for CSE;
At no time shall employees explicitly or implicitly solicit gifts, hospitality, other benefits or transfers of economic value from a person, group or organization in the private sector who has dealings with the government.
In the case of fundraising for charitable organizations, employees shall ensure that they have prior authorization from the Chief, CSE or delegated official, via the DGAEE, to solicit donations, prizes or contributions in kind from external organizations or individuals. The Chief, CSE or delegated official may require that the activities be curtailed, modified or terminated where it is determined that there is a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest or an obligation to the donor.
Avoidance of preferential treatment
When participating in any decision making related to a staffing process, employees shall ensure that they are not in a position of real, apparent or potential conflict of interest with respect to anyone, including family and friends.
When making decisions that will result in a financial award to an external party, employees shall not grant preferential treatment or assistance to anyone, including family and friends. In such situations, the employee shall advise their manager of the real, apparent or potential conflict.
Employees shall offer assistance to entities or persons that have dealings with the government only a) where this assistance is part of their official duties, b) with prior authorization from their designated superior, and c) in full compliance with the conditions set out in that authorization.
Providing information that is easily accessible to the public to relatives or friends or to entities in which employees or their family members or friends have interests is not considered preferential treatment.
Assets, liabilities and trusts (confidential report)
To inform employees of assets, liabilities and trusts subject to a Confidential Report.
Assets and liabilities subject to a confidential report
Employees must carefully evaluate on a regular basis whether their assets and liabilities need to be included in a Confidential Report. In doing so, they must take into consideration the nature of their official duties and the characteristics of their assets and liabilities. If there is any real, apparent or potential conflict between the carrying out of their official duties and their assets and liabilities, a Confidential Report must be filed. If there is no relationship, no report is required.
The following is a list of examples of assets and liabilities that must be reported in a Confidential Report if they do, or could, constitute a conflict of interest. This list is not exhaustive.
- Publicly traded securities of corporations and foreign governments, self-administered Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), and self-administered Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) that are composed of these securities, where these securities are held directly and not through units in mutual funds;
- Interests in partnerships, proprietorships, joint ventures, private companies and family businesses, in particular those that own or control shares of public companies or that do business with the government;
- Commercially operated farm businesses;
- Real property that is not for the private use of employees or their family members;
- Commodities, futures and foreign currencies held or traded for speculative purposes;
- Assets placed in trust or resulting from an estate of which the employee is a beneficiary;
- Secured or unsecured loans granted to persons other than to members of the employee's immediate family;
- Any other assets or liabilities that could give rise to a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest due to the particular nature of the employee's official duties; and
- Direct and contingent liabilities in respect of any of the assets described in this section.
Assets not requiring a confidential report
Assets and interests for the private use of employees and of their family members, as well as non-commercial assets, are not subject to the compliance measures.
Such assets include the following (this list is not exhaustive):
- residences, recreational properties and farms used or intended for use by employees or their families;
- household goods and personal effects;
- works of art, antiques and collectibles;
- automobiles and other personal means of transportation;
- cash and deposits;
- Canada Saving Bonds and other similar investments in securities of fixed value issued or guaranteed by any level of government in Canada or agencies of those governments;
- RRSPs and RESPs that are not self-administered;
- Registered Home Ownership Savings Plans;
- investments in open-ended mutual funds;
- guaranteed investment certificates and similar financial instruments;
- annuities and life insurance policies;
- pension rights;
- money owed by a previous employer, client or partnership; and
- personal loans receivable from members of employees' immediate families and small personal loans receivable from other persons where employees have loaned the moneys receivable.
Divestment of assets
Employees must divest assets where the Chief, CSE or delegated official determines that such assets constitute a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest in relation to their duties and responsibilities. Divestment, where required, must take place within 120 days of appointment, transfer or deployment. Divestment of assets is usually achieved by selling them through an arm's-length transaction or by making them subject to a blind trust arrangement.
Where a required divestment is by means of sale, confirmation of the sale (such as a broker's sales receipt) shall be provided to the Chief, CSE or delegated official via the DGAEE.
Where divestment is by means of a blind trust, the DGAEE will assist the Chief, CSE or delegated official, and the employee, to set up a blind trust and to determine whether a specific blind trust meets the requirements.
Resolution measures for conflict of interest
It is expected that most conflict of interest situations will be addressed through discussion between the manager or the DGAEE and the employee.
In situations where there is a disagreement regarding the appropriate arrangements to prevent a conflict of interest, the disagreement shall be resolved through the established labour relations grievance procedures.
To establish rules of conduct respecting post-CSE employment.
Without unduly restricting their ability to seek other employment, former employees shall undertake to minimize the possibility of real, apparent or potential conflicts of interest between their new employment outside of CSE and their most recent responsibilities within CSE. Before leaving CSE, employees shall disclose their intention of future employment. Any potential conflicts should be brought to the attention of the Director General, Audit, Evaluation and Ethics (DGAEE).
The overall responsibility cited above applies to all CSE employees (including term, indeterminate and employees on secondment/interchange) and students employed by CSE.
Executive or designated positions
The following measures apply specifically to those employees staffed in executive (EX) positions or their equivalent, or positions designated by the Chief, CSEFootnote *:
Before leaving office
Employees must disclose, in a Confidential Report to the DGAEE, all firm offers of employment that could place them in a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest situation. They must also immediately disclose the acceptance of any such offer.
Former employees shall not, within a period of one year after leaving CSE:
- accept appointment to a board of directors of, or employment with, entities with which they personally, or through their subordinates, had significant official dealings during the period of one year immediately prior to the termination of their service;
- make representations for or on behalf of any other person or entity to any department or organization with which they personally, or through their subordinates, had significant official dealings during the period of one year immediately prior to the termination of their service; or
- give advice to their new employer or clients using information that is not available to the public concerning the programs or policies of the organization with which they had a direct and substantial relationship while employed by CSE.
Reduction of limitation period
The Chief, CSE has the authority to reduce or waive the limitation period of employment for an employee or former employee. Such a decision should take into consideration the following:
- the circumstances under which the termination of their service occurred;
- the general employment prospects of the employee or former employee;
- the significance to the government of information possessed by the employee or former employee by virtue of that individual's position in CSE;
- the desirability of a rapid transfer of the employee's or former employee's knowledge and skills from the government to private, other governmental or non-governmental sectors;
- the degree to which the new employer might gain unfair commercial or private advantage by hiring the employee or former employee; and
- the authority and influence possessed while in CSE, and the disposition of other cases.
A decision by the Chief, CSE to waive or reduce the limitation period will be recorded in writing.
The Chief, CSE or delegated official must ensure that an employee who is intending to leave the organization is aware of these post-employment measures.
A CSE employee or former CSE employee may apply to the Chief, CSE for reconsideration of any determination respecting his or her compliance with the post-employment measures.
Resolution measures for post-CSE employment situations
It is expected that most post-CSE employment situations posing a real, apparent or potential conflict of interest will be addressed through discussion between the manager and the employee.
In situations where there is a disagreement regarding the appropriate arrangements to prevent a conflict of interest, the disagreement shall be resolved through the established labour relations grievance procedures.
Disclosure of wrongdoing
To provide a mechanism for employees to discuss or report serious ethical issues, including a perceived or suspected wrongdoing, that they encounter in relation to CSE, without fear of reprisal. Such a mechanism is required for CSE to be compliant with section 52 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act. Moreover, it is consistent with CSE’s values.
Consulting on ethical issues
Any employee who wants to raise, discuss or clarify any ethical issue that they encounter in CSE is encouraged to speak with his or her manager, a Union Representative, Labour Relations or to contact the Director General, Audit, Evaluation and Ethics (DGAEE), who serves as CSE’s Senior Officer for such matters.
The DGAEE is available to provide information and advice on the CSE Ethics Charter and this mechanism to all CSE employees.
An employee who meets with the DGAEE in relation to an ethical issue, including a disclosure, can be accompanied by another person such as a union representative, a friend, a peer, etc., provided that the individual possesses a security clearance sufficient for the issue to be raised.
Disclosing a wrongdoing
Any employee who believes they have witnessed or have knowledge of an alleged wrongdoing in the workplace is encouraged to disclose the matter to their manager or the DGAEE, or to cooperate in an investigation into the alleged wrongdoing, and may do so without fear of reprisal, under the provisions of this mechanism.
Similarly, any employee who believes that he/she is being asked to act in a way that contradicts the values and ethics set out in this Charter can report the matter to the DGAEE without fear of reprisal. Should neither option—i.e., disclosing to the manager or to the DGAEE—be reasonable or appropriate, a disclosure may be made directly to the Chief, CSE.
For instances where a perceived wrongdoing cannot, in the view of the employee, reasonably be addressed within CSE, employees are reminded that they can bring a complaint to the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency.
Confidentiality and privacy
In matters related to disclosures of wrongdoing, CSE is obliged and committed to protect confidentiality and, subject to any Act of Parliament and to the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice, to protect the identity and privacy of persons involved in the disclosure process.
All information obtained in the course of an investigation arising from, or obtained in relation to, a disclosure of an alleged wrongdoing is to be handled and stored in accordance with established procedures for handling and storing protected or classified information. In addition, all information collected as a result of a disclosure or complaint of reprisal will be treated in a confidential and discreet manner.
Persons who are not CSE employees (e.g., contractors, visitors) and who believe they have witnessed or have knowledge of an alleged wrongdoing are similarly encouraged to disclose relevant information to the DGAEE. While the same protections as those afforded employees cannot be guaranteed in every case, CSE will make every reasonable effort to provide similar protections.
No employee shall be subject to any reprisal for having made a disclosure, or having cooperated in an investigation into a disclosure or reprisal, in accordance with this mechanism.
Disclosure means the provision of any information by an employee in good faith and in accordance with these procedures based on the belief that the information could show that a wrongdoing has been, is being or is about to be committed, or that the employee has been asked to commit a wrongdoing.
Reprisal means any of the following measures taken against an employee because the employee has made a disclosure, or has, in good faith, cooperated in an investigation into a disclosure:
- a disciplinary measure;
- the demotion of the employee;
- the termination of employment of the employee;
- any measure that adversely affects the employment or working conditions of the employee; and
- a threat to take any of the measures referred to above.
Wrongdoing consists of any of the following within the context of, or in relation to, CSE:
- a contravention of any Act of Parliament or the legislature of a province or territory, or of any regulations made under any such Act;
- a misuse of public funds or a public asset;
- a gross mismanagement;
- a serious breach of the CSE Ethics Charter or security policies;
- an act or omission that creates a substantial and specific danger to the life, health and safety of persons, or to the environment, other than a danger that is inherent in the performance of the duties or functions of an employee; or
- knowingly directing or counselling a person to commit a wrongdoing set out above.
Resposibilities of the Chief, CSE
The Chief, CSE is responsible for:
- promoting a culture of open communication within CSE where issues and concerns can easily be dealt with in the normal interaction between employees and their managers;
- ensuring an internal mechanism to manage the disclosure of wrongdoing, including designating a Senior Officer, who will be responsible for receiving and acting on such disclosures;
- informing all employees of this mechanism, including the name, location and phone number of the Senior Officer;
- ensuring that disclosures are reviewed in a timely fashion and appropriately investigated, and, when required, that prompt action is taken to correct the situation;
- in cases where a wrongdoing is found as a result of a disclosure made under this Charter, ensuring prompt public access to publicly releasableFootnote 1 information that describes the wrongdoing, states any recommendations, and indicates corrective action taken and/or explains why corrective action was not taken;
- protecting employees from reprisal and, where there is a finding of a reprisal, determining the appropriate restitution if applicable;
- ensuring the confidentiality and appropriate protection of information collected in relation to disclosures of alleged wrongdoing; and
- reporting annually to the Minister of National Defence on disclosures made and related issues.
Responsibilities of the Senior Officer (DGAEE)
The DGAEE, as the Senior Officer designated by the Chief, CSE, is responsible for:
- disseminating information on this mechanism, providing interpretation and related advice;
- receiving, recording and reviewing disclosures of information concerning wrongdoing, and establishing if there are sufficient grounds for further action and if resolution is appropriate;
- undertaking investigations when required, reviewing and reporting the results of such investigations, including any systemic issues that are discovered, and making recommendations to the Chief, CSE concerning corrective measures where warranted;
- ensuring that investigations are conducted appropriately and as expeditiously as possible;
- ensuring that procedures are in place to manage disclosures that require immediate or urgent action;
- subject to any Act of Parliament and to the principles of procedural fairness and natural justice, taking appropriate measures to protect the identity and privacy of persons involved in the disclosure process—i.e., persons making disclosures, witnesses and persons alleged to be responsible for wrongdoings, as well as persons who cooperate in any investigation related to a disclosure; and
- preparing an annual report to the Chief, CSE, which will include, at a minimum, the number of general inquiries and requests for advice received, the number of disclosures received and the number acted on and number not acted on, the number of investigations commenced, the number of recommendations made and their status, whether any systemic issues were identified, and any recommendations for improvement considered appropriate.
The DGAEE will report directly to the Chief, CSE on matters related to this mechanism.
The DGAEE will also serve as the CSE primary point of contact (PPOC) to receive information from non-CSE employees (e.g., integrees, contractors or Senior Officers of other government departments and agencies charged with performing similar or related duties within their respective organizations) concerning wrongdoing in relation to CSE and/or its workforce. The DGAEE will similarly serve as the CSE PPOC to provide similar information to external entities when/as appropriate.
In discharging these responsibilities, the DGAEE may be assisted by staff situated within the Directorate of Audit, Evaluation and Ethics.
Responsibilities of employees
Employees are responsible for:
- following the internal processes established to raise instances of wrongdoing in the workplace;
- respecting the reputation of individuals by not making disclosures of wrongdoing frivolously, recklessly or with malicious intent; and
- respecting the confidentiality of those involved or implicated in an allegation of wrongdoing.
Employees should also be aware of their responsibilities under the various policies and laws, for example the Privacy Act, the Criminal Code, the Security of Information Act, CSE’s security policies and the other sections of the CSE Ethics Charter.
Responsibilities of managers (at all levels)
Managers at all levels are responsible for:
- ensuring that their employees are aware of the processes available to them if they wish to disclose information concerning wrongdoing under this mechanism;
- promoting openness in their interaction with employees;
- acting promptly when information concerning an alleged wrongdoing is brought to their attention;
- seeking advice from the DGAEE when required and providing the DGAEE with assistance, information and access when requested to allow him/her to carry out his/her responsibilities under this mechanism;
- protecting from reprisal any and all employees who disclose or cooperate in the investigation of an alleged wrongdoing, including protecting their identities; and
- maintaining and protecting confidentiality.
Administrative and disciplinary measures
In respect to the application of this mechanism, employees at all levels may be subject to administrative and disciplinary measures, up to and including termination of employment, when they:
- take reprisal against another employee who has made a disclosure in accordance with this policy or against an employee who has served as a witness or has otherwise cooperated in any investigation related to a disclosure;
- choose to disclose in a manner that does not conform to this policy and its procedural requirements;
- wilfully obstruct the DGAEE in the performance of his/her duties under this mechanism; and/or
- knowing that a document or thing is likely to be relevant to an investigation of wrongdoing: destroy, mutilate or alter the document or thing; falsify the document or make a false document; conceal the document or thing; or direct, counsel or cause any person to do any of these things.
The Director General, Human Resources must be consulted on any administrative or disciplinary measures to be taken.
Protection from reprisal
Employees who believe they are subject to reprisal as a consequence of having made a disclosure or cooperated with an investigation in accordance with this mechanism are encouraged to bring this matter to the attention of the DGAEE as soon as possible to allow an effective response. The DGAEE will investigate the matter and inform the complainant and appropriate senior managers of the findings. If at any time during the investigation the DGAEE has reasonable belief that a reprisal has occurred, he/she will promptly advise the Chief, CSE.
Employees may also resort to other existing redress procedures, for example those under the Public Service Labour Relations Act and the CSE Policy on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace.
In the event of a determination that a reprisal has occurred, the Chief, CSE may direct that restorative measure(s) be taken or compensation provided to the affected employee(s) as the Chief, CSE deems appropriate within his/her Human Resources and Financial Administration authorities.
Disclosure of criminal activity
Disclosure of any information concerning criminal activity or action will be referred to proper authorities for investigation in accordance with the applicable legislation and policies.
Access to information or privacy requests
Records created in response to, or that directly relate to, a disclosure of wrongdoing and its investigation or resolution are prohibited from release in response to a request made under the Access to Information Act or Privacy Act.
Internal disclosure and resolution process
To document the process to be used when a CSE employee wishes to report a perceived or suspected wrongdoing that they encounter.
Steps to follow
An employee who believes that a wrongdoing has been, is being or is about to be committed should raise the matter with their manager or the DGAEE.
If the employee has brought the matter to the attention of his/her manager, the manager may offer to refer the disclosure to the DGAEE; however, the employee must consent before the DGAEE is approached unless the manager is of the view that the matter is of a sufficiently serious nature that failing to advise the DGAEE would be, or could reasonably be construed to be, negligent. In any event, the manager will inform the employee before approaching the DGAEE.
The following steps apply to disclosures concerning wrongdoing to the DGAEE.
Step 1 – Disclosure of alleged wrongdoing
It is preferable (but not mandatory) that the employee disclose the information to the DGAEE in writing. The disclosure must include sufficient information to permit the matter to be investigated, including a description of the alleged wrongdoing, its nature and the name(s) of the person(s) believed to be involved. The information should be as precise and concise as possible. Recognizing that the nature of certain disclosures might require immediate action, and in the interest of ensuring the most effective possible resolution, employees are encouraged to act promptly.
Step 2 – Screening and review of a disclosure
The DGAEE will review the information and determine if there are sufficient grounds for further action. The disclosure may not proceed to resolution or investigation (or an investigation may be terminated at any point) if it is determined that the disclosure is trivial or was not made in good faith or on the basis of reasonable belief, or if it fails to provide sufficient information to substantiate a potential wrongdoing.
The DGAEE may also decline to act on a disclosure (or decide to terminate an investigation) if it is determined that the matter can be dealt with more appropriately, or has already been dealt with appropriately, by means of a procedure provided for under another policy or law in force in Canada (e.g., CSE’s Policy on Staffing and Recruitment and Policy on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment in the Workplace or existing redress procedures under the Public Service Labour Relations Act). Alternatively, the DGAEE may choose, following consultation with the employee, to deal with the disclosure while the other procedure is in progress or to deal with the disclosure while the other procedure is held in abeyance.
The DGAEE will ensure that the disclosure of any information concerning criminal activity is dealt with in accordance with the applicable legislation and policies.
The DGAEE will inform the employee in writing as to whether he/she will proceed further. If the DGAEE decides to proceed further, he/she will determine, from the nature and particulars of the alleged wrongdoing, the appropriate next steps, which will include an attempt at resolution and/or an investigation.
Step 3 – Attempt at informal resolution
Where feasible, situations will be addressed informally by discussing the matter with the employee(s) concerned, identifying avenues of resolution and taking appropriate action.
Step 4 – Investigation
If the matter cannot be resolved informally, the DGAEE may initiate an investigation. The DGAEE may decide to investigate without an attempt at resolution if he/she has reasonable grounds to believe on the basis of information received or collected that a wrongdoing has been, is being or is about to be committed.
Every investigation shall be conducted discreetly and as expeditiously as possible. Subject to applicable legislation, privacy will be protected.
Before completing the investigation, the DGAEE will take every reasonable measure to ensure that any individual who could be adversely affected by the findings is provided a full and ample opportunity to answer any adverse allegation or criticism.
Step 5 – Decision
The DGAEE will prepare a written report with findings and recommendations for corrective measures for the appropriate level of management, who shall review the DGAEE‘s recommendations and render a decision. Where there is a finding of a wrongdoing, the report will be submitted to the Chief, CSE, who will render the decision.
Step 6 – Notification
The DGAEE will inform, in writing, the person(s) who made the disclosure, and other parties, including managers, as appropriate, of the findings of the investigation and all recommendations appropriate for release.
In cases where a wrongdoing is found, the DGAEE will coordinate the preparation and release of publicly releasable information that describes the wrongdoing, states any recommendations, and indicates corrective action taken and/or explains why corrective action were not taken.