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Evaluation Report: The Section 81 Agreement between the Native Counselling Services of Alberta and the Correctional Services of Canada; The Stan Daniels Healing Centre

File #394-2-30

Evaluation Branch
Performance Assurance Sector
October 7, 2005

Objective 3: Implementation:

This evaluation objective will ascertain whether the policy, program, or initiative is organized or delivered in such a way that goals and objectives can be achieved. This involves appropriate and logical linkages between activities, outputs, outcomes and long-term outcomes.

FINDING 5: Efforts to identify and resolve financial administration issues by both parties to the Agreement have been met with some degree of success. However, there remains a need to formalize roles and responsibilities per the Agreement.

Financial Administration

In August, 2003, CSC's Audit Branch conducted a detailed review of specific processes and procedures in place, as they relate to the administration and payment of the invoices for the Section 81 Agreement with the NCSA. In brief, the review identified a number of issues and weaknesses regarding CSC's capacity to meet the Treasury Board requirements relating to Account Verification of the monthly billing submitted by the NCSA. Factors identified in the Review as contributing to these deficiencies were as follows:

  • there was a lack of required documentation as “the finance section did not have a copy of the final Section 81 agreement including the required Appendix relating to the payment clauses”;
  • there was an inadequate level of resources required to ensure and monitor the adequacy of account verification, as “no verification was performed on any of the supporting documentation detailing the services being charged by the NCSA”;
  • there was a lack of communication between CSC and the NCSA, as “the District would request information/clarification on some of the billing., the NCSA never really responded to these requests”; and
  • there was a general lack of clarity, particularly within the Agreement and with CSC Standard Operating Practice, with regards to the accountability for and the administration of the Agreement. Specifically, the Review states that “the actual accountability for the administration of these agreements is not always clear.”

The report includes several recommendations to improve upon the financial administration of the Agreement. As a result, the NCSA and CSC have been working towards reconciling the billing issues. However, to date there have been no amendments to the Agreement that would further clarify roles and responsibilities, nor any formal protocols put in place to enhance CSC's level of compliance with Treasury Board Policy regarding account verification.

Results from interviews with key sources support the findings contained in the 2003 Audit review. When asked if there was clarity in the guidelines, roles and responsibilities with regard to the Section 81, only one-third of the Stan Daniels staff (35%; n = 6) responded that they were clear. Among the CSC staff members interviewed, most respondents (4 of 5) indicated a there was a low level of clarity. A lack of clarity on financial administration and accountability was the most frequently cited concern amongst the Centre's staff members (n = 3). Complaints were also raised with regard to the contract not being widely available or the language contained within the Agreement not being very accessible. Respondents found the Agreement was vague and left room for a great deal of interpretation.

Monitoring and Reporting Procedures

As stated in CSC's Commissioner's Directive 041 'Incident Reports', investigations allow CSC to “take remedial action and ensure lessons learned from the review and analysis of incident reports are integrated into organizational practices”. Investigations are conducted when the incidents “affect the security and/or safety of the public or staff or an offender and/or the operations of the Service”. The Investigation Branch reviews incidents and decides the level of investigations (national or regional) required, which is then approved by the Commissioner, the National Headquarters Management Committee and the Deputy Commissioner.

The one national incident and investigation report that was conducted concerned a situation where two offenders committed a serious offence wherein together they shot and killed an RCMP constable. At the time, one offender on statutory release was under supervision at the Centre and Edmonton Area Parole Office[61], and the other offender was a day-parolee residing at the Centre. Charges were laid against the day parolee, and the full parolee was killed prior to apprehension. A National Board of Investigation convened and could not find any clear evidence of pre-indicators to the incident, or evidence that the cases were deteriorating from a management or supervision perspective. Several compliance issues were identified in respect to the supervision of the offender on parole, however the Board concluded that there was not a link between these deficiencies and the incident. The Board issued no recommendations as a result of the incident.

A review of the 21 regional incident and investigation reports revealed that, although the Centre was found to adequately monitor residents and report incidents promptly, more training and clarification of roles would facilitate the implementation of the Agreement.

The evaluation examined the 21 regional incident and investigation reports, completed between November, 1999 and June 2005. All incidents were escapes or unlawfully at large (UAL). In one case, before escaping the inmate confined and robbed the Centre's staff. In two different cases, two offenders escaped at the same time. In only two of the escape/UAL incidents were there pre-incident indicators identified by the Investigation teams. Of the 21 incidents it was found that only one was not reported promptly and completely to headquarters. In almost half of the investigations (10 out of 21) there were “extenuating” circumstances prior to the incident, with the most frequent circumstances mentioned being drug or alcohol abuse, serious family problems and difficult rapports with staff. In all but one case the offenders were apprehended or turned themselves in. In all cases where charges were mentioned (n=11) charges were laid for escape lawful custody. In addition, 3 incidents resulted in other charges: one incident had charges for robbery and unlawful custody, another with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and another for assault causing bodily harm and obstruction.

After a review of circumstances, out of 21 incidents, 3 were found to have commonalities with prior escapes, while 11 incidents were found to be isolated incidents (no similar circumstances or links were found with prior escapes). In only 4 of the incidents the investigating teams were of the opinion that some interceding measures could have prevented the incident. In all but three instances, it was determined that the staff responded adequately to the incident. The investigations mention failure to notify proper authorities immediately as the reason for an inadequate response in 2 of the three instances and a breach in procedures in the other. Specifically, the resident's security level did not conform to the CSC Standard Operating Practice (SOP) # 700-14, “Security Classification of Offenders”.

In 7 of the 21 investigated incidents there was found to be a non compliance with laws, policies and procedures. In all of these 7 cases, the violation of procedures related to proper paperwork not completed. Although few recommendations were made, most were concerning procedures and training. Out of the 6 recommendations made, two were for additional staff training and three recommendations mentioned a need for enhanced clarity of roles for the effective completion of procedural practices.

RECOMMENDATION 3: The Section 81 Agreement between CSC and the NCSA should be amended to further clarify roles, responsibility and accountability with regards to reporting procedures and the financial administration of the Agreement.

FINDING 6: Joint reviews have been conducted retrospective to incidents and identified issues, rather than annually as suggested by the Agreement.

The Section 81 Agreement between CSC and the NCSA excerpts that:

In March of each year, or at such other times as may mutually agreed upon, CSC and NCSA shall co-operate in a joint management review of the agreement for the purpose of maximizing its benefits to offenders and of facilitating its efficient administration. The review will use criteria that have been agreed upon by the Parties to this agreement at the beginning of the review period.[62]

The Agreement also states that:

At the mid point in the Agreement, the Parties agree to establish a Joint Operational Review Committee to ensure that the Healing Centre is operating to the optimal benefit of the residents and that the aims and objectives set for the Healing Centre are being met.[63]

The current joint review process entails meetings between the Deputy Commissioner CSC (Prairies) and the Chief Executive Officer NCSA. At the joint review meetings, issues may be identified and subsequently, reviews initiated. To date, the primary foci of formal collaborations between CSC and the NCSA have been incident and investigation reports, and reviews of the financial administration of the Agreement (billing issues and per diem rates). However, there is no formal process that provides the parties an opportunity to document the presence or absence of issues relating to the effective and efficient administration of the Agreement, and to ensure that the aims and objectives of the Agreement are being met.

RECOMMENDATION 4: A standard annual joint review report should be produced by CSC and NCSA in order to facilitate the early identification of issues regarding the Agreement.

FINDING 7: There are gaps in CSC's Offender Management System (OMS) regarding the historical movement of inmates and offenders to and from the Stan Daniels Healing Centre.

As per CSC's Standard Operating Practices, the NCSA and CSC are jointly responsible for the completion and entry of resident transfer and release information[64]. However, a comparison of resident information drawn from CSC's Offender Management System (OMS) and the Stan Daniels Healing Centre Bed Utilization Reports revealed there were gaps in the OMS data. Specifically, residency dates (commencement and termination) did not exist for all those transferred to the Centre. Thus, the evaluation team used the Centre's Bed Utilization Reports[65] to identify these dates and subsequently create a historical data base of the Centre's residents.

RECOMMENDATION 5: CSC and the NCSA should ensure Standard Operating Practices are met regarding the completion and entry of resident transfer and release information into the Offender Management System. Both parties should also update the current information with the Centre's Bed Utilization Reports such that OMS exhibits an accurate historical representation of residency.

[61] A special condition to abstain from all intoxicants was imposed by the National Parole Board, thus CSC had authority to conduct urinalysis to monitor compliance.

[62] See Sections under Joint Review.

[63] Ibid.

[64] See: CSC Standard Operating Practice (SOP) No. 700-09, Section 32. Release Procedures; SOP No. 700-15, Section 37. Transfer of Offenders; and the Section 81 Agreement between CSC and the NCSA, Section 27. Case Management.

[65] Bed Utilization Reports are created electronically at the Centre, faxed to the Edmonton District Parole Office where paper copies are stored. Although the reports facilitate the identification of transfers to and from the Centre, their main purpose is for billing.