Accountability framework

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Overview

The City of Ottawa is committed to being accountable and conducting City business in an open and transparent manner. In 2010, City Council endorsed an Accountability Framework to strengthen this commitment. The Framework includes the establishment of a Code of Conduct for Members of Council, an Integrity Commissioner, public disclosure of office expenses, and a lobbyist and gifts registry. Further to this Framework, the City also has an Accountability and Transparency Policy, which details how the City demonstrates its commitment to being open, accountable and transparent in all areas of responsibility, from financial reports to human resource management to service delivery.

Over the years, Ottawa City Council has furthered its commitment to accountability and transparency through the implementation of various policies, procedures and practices, as outlined below.

Statutory officers of the City

Municipalities have the authority to appoint various statutory officers to carry out certain functions as described in the Municipal Act, 2001. The City of Ottawa has appointed several officers, who help to ensure the City is conducting business in an open and transparent manner, as follows:

  • An Auditor General who is independent from the City’s administration and reports directly to City Council and a Committee of Council. The Auditor General assists Council in holding itself and the City administration accountable to taxpayers, as outlined in the Auditor General By-law No. 2021-5.
  • An Integrity Commissioner who is an independent and impartial officer responsible for the oversight and application of Council’s codes of conduct and reports directly to City Council. The City’s Integrity Commissioner also acts as the Meetings Investigator and Lobbyist Registrar. The duties of the Integrity Commissioner are outlined in By-law No. 2021-7. The Integrity Commissioner and Meetings Investigator fulfil certain required functions mandated by the Municipal Act, 2001.
  • A City Manager who reports directly to City Council. The City Manager is responsible for the general control and management of the affairs of the municipality for the purpose of ensuring its efficient and effective operation, among other duties, as outlined in By-law No. 2021-6.

City’s commitment to open and transparent governance

The City’s commitment to accountability and transparency continues to be demonstrated through fulfillment of its legislated obligations and the implementation of various policies, procedures and practices, as outlined in the City’s Accountability and Transparency Policy. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Lobbyist Registry and the Lobbyist Code of Conduct to enhance the transparency and integrity of business conducted at City Hall.
  • Codes of Conduct to outline behaviours expected of Members of Council, members of local boards, and citizen members of committees of Council including Advisory Committees.
  • Code of conduct complaint protocol, as appended to each Code of conduct, to provide a reporting mechanism for the public if they believe a contravention of a code has occurred, and a procedure for the Integrity Commissioner to follow.
  • Council-Staff Relations Policy to ensure a respectful, tolerant and harassment-free relationship and workplace between Members of Council, officers and employees of the corporation.
  • Gifts Registry and public reporting of gifts, benefits, hospitality and tickets Members of Council have received.
  • Public Registry of declarations of interests, under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, for declarations filed by Members of Council and members of local boards.
  • Investigation protocols for requesting an Integrity Commissioner inquiry into an alleged violation of the conflict-of-interest rules.
  • Public Conduct Policy and trespass procedures to promote a respectful, tolerant and harassment-free workplace between Members of Council, officers and employees of the corporation, and the public.
  • Delegation of Powers Policy including accountability and transparency requirements for every new delegation. This Policy is supported by the Delegation of Authority By-law that is reviewed and approved by Council generally twice during the four-year Council term or more frequently if required.
  • An Employee Code of Conduct that sets out the core values City staff apply to their everyday experiences, used to inform decisions and interactions, and to demonstrate the highest standards of ethical behaviour.
  • Council Expense Policy to provide Members of Council with the flexibility to allocate resources in the most efficient way to meet their requirements and recognize the Members’ accountability for managing their allocated City resources.
  • Community Fundraising and Special Events Policy to provide guidance to Members of Council on supporting benevolent events and receiving donations and sponsorships for Member-organized community events.
  • Election-Related Resources Policy and supporting procedures to ensure public funds and resources are not used for any election-related purposes.
  • Budget and financial reporting, including “It’s About Accountability” framework adoption in 2004 (such as quarterly financial and purchasing reports and producing a City of Ottawa Annual Report).
  • Multi-year City Strategic Plan and Departmental Business Plans (City Strategic Directions and Term of Council Priorities).
  • Comprehensive annual Corporate People Plan and Workforce Planning.
  • ServiceOttawa Annual Report.
  • Principles of Open Government and establishing the Open Ottawa site where the public can access municipal datasets.
  • Public disclosures related to executed contracts, Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Plans, events and gifts, and access to information requests, among others.