Printer-friendly version   

nrmslogo_bc_icon.gif

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2012HLTH0083-001302

Sept. 6, 2012

Ministry of Health

 

 

Ministry of Health taking immediate steps to respond to investigation

 

VICTORIA - The Ministry of Health has asked the RCMP to investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct, contracting and data-management practices involving ministry employees and drug researchers.

 

Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said today that the ministry has provided the RCMP with interim results of an internal investigation, which was supported by a lead investigator from the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Citizens’ Services and Open Government. It examined contracting and research grant practices between ministry employees and researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

 

“We take all allegations of this nature very seriously,” she said. “I have instructed the ministry to continue to take whatever steps are necessary to respond to these matters thoroughly. We must ensure confidence is maintained in the integrity of the public service to execute its responsibilities in a manner that meets the high standards of conduct expected by the public.”

 

The formal investigation, which commenced in May 2012, examined financial controls, contracting, data management and employee/contractor relationships, and produced evidence of potential conflict of interest, and inappropriate contract management and data access with external drug researchers.

 

As an immediate response, the ministry took the following steps, pending the completion of an ongoing formal investigation into this matter:

 

·         Four employees have been terminated and three have been suspended without pay – and their access to ministry data and government assets has been frozen.

·         Two contractors had their contracts and data access suspended.

·         All ministry data sharing with drug and evidence development researchers has been temporarily suspended.

·         All work on contracts related to drug and evidence development has been suspended.

·         All spending for the pharmaceutical services division now requires approval by the assistant deputy minister.

·         The ministry will tighten its policy regarding awards of contracts to universities. All contracts entered into by the ministry will now be reviewed by the ministry’s contract management branch.

·         The ministry will engage an independent consultant to review and enhance the ministry’s data security measures.

 

In addition to the RCMP, the ministry has been in contact with the Public Service Agency, the Office of the Comptroller General, the Office of the Auditor General, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

 

A backgrounder follows:

 

Media contact:

 

Ryan Jabs

Media Relations Manager

Ministry of Health

250 952-1887 (media line)

 

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect


BACKGROUNDER

 

 

Investigation timeline

 

March 28, 2012 – The Office of the Auditor General contacted the Ministry of Health to advise that someone had made an allegation about contracting irregularities and inappropriate research grant practices in the Pharmaceutical Services Division.

 

April 2012 – The ministry’s Financial and Corporate Services Division conducted staff interviews and looked at the contracts involved in the complaint. As a result of this examination, the ministry decided a formal and in depth investigation was warranted.

 

May 2012 – The ministry began its formal investigation. A lead investigator from the Office of the Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Citizens’ Services and Open Government, was engaged to support this process.

 

June 2012 – Based on information uncovered by the formal investigation, the ministry suspended data access for a number of employees. These employees were subsequently suspended in July and August.

 

July 2012 – Results of the interim review were provided to the deputy minister.

 

August 2012 – The ministry provided the RCMP with interim results of the internal investigation.

 

September 2012 – Four of the seven employees were terminated.

 

Media contact:

 

Ryan Jabs

Media Relations Manager

Ministry of Health

250 952-1887 (media line)

 

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect