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About the AER

On October 4, 2019, the reports from three investigations into the AER’s involvement with the International Centre of Regulatory Excellence (ICORE) were released.

  • -The Office of the Auditor General of Alberta’s report
  • -The Public Interest Commissioner’s report
  • -The Ethics Commissioner’s report

The reports made clear that a small group of senior leaders used AER resources to advance ICORE for personal gain. These people are no longer employed at the AER. When the reports were released, the AER’s interim board committed to implement any required actions to enhance credibility in the regulator.

The AER has taken a number of steps to implement the recommendations within those reports.

Completed

The former CEO is prohibited from working for, or obtaining contracts with, the AER. (Public Interest Commissioner)

  • The board has declared that the AER will not rehire the former CEO or enter into any contracts with him. Our human resources software system has been updated to flag the former CEO with a “do-not-hire” status.

In progress

The AER will ensure its Whistleblower Protection Policy is up-to-date and that AER staff are aware of and trained on the policy. (Office of the Auditor General of Alberta, Public Interest Commissioner)

  • The AER updated its Whistleblower Protection Policy in September 2019. The updates include:
    • A new designated officer (the person who investigates the disclosures): The AER’s designated officer is now the General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Law. Additionally, the designated officer is accountable to the board chair and CEO.
    • New disclosure contacts: the designated officer will forward disclosures if:
      • the disclosure relates to the board, in which case the designated officer will forward it to the public interest commissioner.
      • a disclosure is related to the CEO or executive leadership team, in which case the designated officer will forward that disclosure to the board. The board may ask an external consultant to handle the disclosure, depending on the situation.

Completed

The AER investigate identified staff to determine if their activities, regarding ICORE and generally, breached the AER’s Conflict of Interest Policy and Procedures. (Ethics Commissioner)

  • An independent consultant investigated the identified staff who were still employed by the AER at the time, and found no breach of the AER’s Conflict of Interest Policy and Procedures. The AER board chair, CEO, and general counsel approved these findings.

The AER protect its intellectual property associated with the training curriculum developed for ICORE and related to OneStop. (Public Interest Commissioner)

  • The intellectual property of the AER regarding the training curriculum developed for ICORE-NFP and OneStop is protected through the terms of its agreements with the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and with ICORE-NFP. The agreements confirm that the AER owns the intellectual property in the training courses and curriculum.

In progress

The AER evaluate whether additional funds spent on ICORE are recoverable, and conduct a review of the actual time and resources expended on ICORE. (Public Interest Commissioner, Office of the Auditor General)

  • The AER hired an external consultant and is awaiting legal advice on cost recovery.
  • The AER is conducting an internal review of actual time and resources used on ICORE.

The AER assess the risk of further waste of public resources not already identified. (Office of the Auditor General)

  • The AER is in the process of ensuring the work conducted by AER Internal Audit Services addresses any future risk of further waste of public resources.
  • Work to enhance internal policies and to improve board oversight and corporate culture will further addresses this recommendation.

In progress

All communication, oral or written, from an agency, board, or commission (the AER is an agency of the Government of Alberta) to the minister responsible go through the board chair, with the chair’s approval. (Ethics Commissioner, Office of the Auditor General)

  • Work is underway to determine proper communication protocols with government ministries.

The CEO should provide a weekly report of any oral communication between the deputy minister and the chair. (Ethics Commissioner)

  • Work is underway to determine proper communication protocols with government ministries.

The board should improve its oversight in a number of ways (Office of the Auditor General):

Complete: The board should review and approve CEO travel expenses.

  • The board now has oversight and approval of CEO expenses.

In progress: Obtain formal and periodic reports from management to ensure AER activities comply with Government of Alberta legislation and AER policies, including those related to conflict of interest.

  • Changes to the AER’s Whistleblower Protection Policy ensures the designated officer shares disclosures involving the CEO and members of the executive leadership team with the board.
  • The AER’s Finance Branch will conduct expense claim audits and reviews to ensure employees are complying with the Travel and Subsistence Policy, which was updated in October 2019 to include tighter expense restrictions and more detailed approval processes.

In progress: Ensure officers in key risk roles have the tools and skills to provide clear and complete information on AER activities.

  • The AER’s Internal Audit Services now reports directly to the board and CEO.

In progress: Establish processes to engage with all AER staff so that concerns are brought to the board’s attention.

  • Changes to the AER’s Whistleblower Protection Policy ensures the designated officer shares disclosures involving the CEO and members of the executive leadership team with the board.
  • AER staff are encouraged to share concerns directly with board members.
  • The board is hosting formal sessions with AER staff to gather feedback on culture and corporate structure.

Not yet started: Ensure the effectiveness of processes regarding the evolution of corporate culture and the performance of senior leaders.