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Prentice government legislation aims to improve accountability and restore trust with Albertans

The Government of Alberta is implementing new rules in order to enhance accountability on the part of elected officials and public servants.

Bill 2, the Alberta Accountability Act, is being introduced to ensure the highest ethical standards and accountability measures are in place for those who serve Albertans.

“One of my first commitments as premier was that government would take concrete action to end entitlements and rebuild public trust. Today, our government has delivered, with strong legislation that will restore Albertans’ confidence in the integrity and accountability of government.”

Premier Jim Prentice

The Alberta Accountability Act and two new Treasury Board directives will:

  • Strengthen conflict-of-interest guidelines for political staff;
  • Extend the cooling off periods for political staff and senior civil servants;
  • Restrict severance packages for political staff;
  • Eliminate sole-sourced contracts in all but exceptional circumstances; and
  • Clarify the distinction between the role of registered lobbyists and government consultants.

The legislation was introduced by Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis on December 8.

"The new rules government is putting in place will provide clear and consistent direction for those who have the privilege of working for Albertans. They will ensure that the highest standards are met, and that government is fully accountable to Albertans.”

Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

Key components of the legislation include:

  • Extended cooling off periods from 6 to 12 months for former deputy ministers, senior officials and premier’s and ministers’ staff;
  • Revised and clarified post-employment restrictions;
  • Enhanced accountability of senior officials;
  • Greater consistency in conflict-of-interest rules for elected officials, senior civil servants and political staff;
  • Clarified rules regarding gifts and benefits accepted by MLAs;
  • Clarified rules around the acceptance and public disclosure of non-commercial travel; and
  • Expanded authority for the Alberta Ethics Commissioner.

Changes addressed by Treasury Board directives include:

  • Enhanced procurement rules; and
  • Restricted severance packages for political staff. Political staff will be entitled to a severance payment of three months of salary if they have been employed for less than one year. If they have been employed for more than one year, they are entitled to three months of salary plus one additional month of salary for each year of service up to a maximum of six months of salary. Maximum severance is six months.

Fact Sheet: Procurement rules changing to support Bill 2

A Treasury Board Directive outlining strict new rules for government procurement and sole-sourcing of contracts has been issued in support of Bill 2, the Alberta Accountability Act.

Treasury Board Directive on procurement and sole-sourcing supports the Alberta Accountability Act by ensuring a more consistent, transparent process while maintaining the efficiency of government program delivery.

Thresholds that trigger a competitive bidding process for obtaining services and construction are significantly lower under the directive:

Category

New Alberta Threshold

Current NWPTA* Threshold

Current AIT** Threshold

Services

$10,000

$75,000

$100,000

Construction

$50,000

$100,000

$100,000

* New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA) government procurement thresholds
**Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) government procurement thresholds

Sole-source contracts will be governed by strict rules under the Directive:

  • Only NWPTA government procurement exceptions allowed
  • Deputy ministers must approve all exceptions

Public disclosure will be required of all sole-source services contracts. Under the directive, a report of all sole-source contracts awarded will be made public on a quarterly basis.

A Procurement Accountability Framework will be developed to support consistent procurement practices across government. The framework will reflect best practices and foster accountability, transparency, fairness, effectiveness and efficiency.

A Contract Review Committee will be established in every government department to ensure a consistent and transparent procurement process.


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