Terms of Reference

(Updated as of July 31, 2017)

The Board of Directors has mandated the Ombudsman to provide members of the public with an independent, confidential, neutral, fair and equitable mechanism for resolving complaints when all other redress avenues internal to the NCC have been exhausted.

I. INTERPRETATION

1. In these terms of reference, the following words mean:

“Board of Directors” means the board of directors of the National Capital Commission;

“CEO” means the Chief Executive Officer of the NCC

“Complaint” means a complaint by a Complainant pertaining to NCC activities or conduct for which the NCC internal redress mechanism has been completed but has not been resolved;

“Complainant” means a member of the public but does not include persons with a contractual relationship with the NCC such as contractors, suppliers or tenants;

“NCC” means the National Capital Commission;

“Ombudsman” means the individual appointed by the Board of Directors to exercise the duties of that position.

II. APPOINTMENT OR REPLACEMENT

2.   The Ombudsman is appointed for a three year term by the Board of Directors. At the sole discretion of the NCC, two (2) successive one (1) year options may be exercised at the same terms and conditions. The Ombudsman shall report, and be accountable for performance, to the Chair of the Board or his/her delegate. Notwithstanding that the Ombudsman shall report to the Chair of the Board, the Ombudsman may turn to the Chair of the Governance Committee or his/her delegate, on an as required basis, for advice on difficult issues or to seek clarity in interpretation of the Terms of Reference.

3.   The Board of Directors sets the compensation of the Ombudsman.  The Board of Directors delegates to the Chair of the Governance Committee, in consultation with the Chair of the Board of Directors, the authority to make consequential amendments to the contract, as well as the Terms of Reference, between the NCC and the Ombudsman.

4.   The Ombudsman may resign at any time by giving three months’ written notice to the Board of Directors and may only be dismissed by the Board of Directors.

5.   When the Ombudsman ceases to hold office, the Board of Directors appoints a new one in accordance with Section 2.

6.   The Ombudsman is supported with resources from the NCC Commission Secretariat under the direction of the Chair of the Governance Committee or his or her delegate and in accordance with the contract for services between the NCC and the Ombudsman.

III.RESPONSIBILITIES

7.   The Ombudsman shall:

(a) Act independently and with impartiality when responding to complaints

(b) Receive complaints only when all other redress avenues internal to the NCC have been exhausted;

(c) Where appropriate:

(i) Make recommendations to the NCC and the Complainants;

(ii) Use facilitation when appropriate in an attempt to arrive at a resolution of a complaint; or

(iii) Reject complaints on their merits;

(d) Advise the public about the procedures for bringing forth complaints to the Ombudsman when all other redress avenues internal to the NCC have been exhausted; and

(e) File an annual public activity report with the Board of Directors;

  1. Adhere to ethics and standards that the Board establishes for the position;
  2. File an interim report with the Governance Committee.
  3. The Ombudsman shall ensure that all employees, consultants, independent contractors and staff assigned to the Ombudsman acknowledge their understanding and compliance with administrative standards and practices established by the Board of Directors.
  4. The Ombudsman shall not:
  5. Act as an advocate for the NCC, the Complainant, or any other person; or
  6. Provide legal, accounting, or other professional advice.
  7. The Ombudsman may delegate administrative duties to a NCC employee, including the right to request information from Complainants or the NCC and its representatives, only when authorized by the Board of Directors. A delegate cannot further delegate any of the Ombudsman duties.

IV.INVESTIGATIONS & INTERVENTIONS

  1. The Ombudsman investigates or intervenes only at a Complainant’s request when all other redress avenues internal to the NCC have been exhausted and the Ombudsman believes on reasonable grounds that a Complainant has been adversely affected or is likely to be affected by acts or omissions of the NCC.
  2. Subject to Section 13, the Ombudsman may investigate a Complaint relating to a decision, a recommendation, an act or an omission of the NCC, including its agents, employees or other person carrying out duties on its behalf.
  3. The Ombudsman shall not investigate:

(a)  Any decision, recommendation, act or omission whatsoever:

  1. Of the Board of Directors or its committees;
  2. Of any person in the context of labour relations with the person or group whose interests are affected by the intervention;
  3. Of any person in the context of a contractual relationship with the NCC, including contractors, suppliers or tenants, whose interests are affected by the intervention,; or
  4. Of an elected official or any member of the cabinet of elected officials; or
  5. A private dispute between individuals or a decision made by a tribunal or an organization carrying out judicial duties.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Ombudsman may:

  1. Comment on systemic problems in the Ombudsman Annual Report. or,
  2. Consider legitimate complaints from a Complainants, as long as the complaints do not relate to the legal provisions of existing contracts.

14. The Ombudsman shall not investigate or intervene, or shall interrupt an investigation or intervention, when:

  1. Of the opinion that a complaint is frivolous, vexatious or was not made in good faith, or that legal recourse is likely to correct the injurious situation;
  2. More than one year has elapsed since the Complainant whose interests affected by the intervention or investigation has learned of the facts on which it is based, unless the Complainant establishes, to the Ombudsman’s satisfaction, exceptional circumstances that justify the delay; or
  3. In a position of potential or perceived conflict of interest, in which case the Ombudsman is replaced by a special substitute named by the Board of the Directors.

15. The Ombudsman informs the Complainant in writing whenever a reasoned decision is made to interrupt an investigation or intervention or not to investigate or intervene.

16. The Ombudsman must inform the NCC branch heads concerned and the CEO of any investigation or intervention and enable the branch head to be heard and to correct the situation. Without disclosing information regarding any specific Complainants that may need to remain confidential, the Ombudsman shall provide a monthly report of the status of the complaints to the CEO and Chair of the Governance committee or his or her delegate.

17. Every Complainant requesting the intervention of the Ombudsman must:

  1. State their family name, first name, address, telephone number, and those, when known, of every person covered by the request;
  2. State the facts in support of their request; and
  3. Provide the Ombudsman with any other information or document may be required to process the request.

18. At the time of an investigation or intervention, the Ombudsman or the staff assigned to the Ombudsman, is entitled to learn all of the relevant facts required to make a recommendation and the Board of Directors will ensure that the Ombudsman has access to the appropriate documents, save and except that the Ombudsman shall not have access to documents covered by solicitor-client or litigation privilege, or those documents or parts of documents that must otherwise be protected pursuant to access to information or privacy legislation.

19. At the end of an investigation or intervention, the Ombudsman:

  1. Must submit a written report of findings to the Complainant and the persons referred to in Section 16; and
  2. May recommend any measure the Ombudsman sees fit.

20. When making a recommendation, the Ombudsman may require one of the persons referred to in Section 16 to submit a report within a given period on the follow-up measures taken or intended to be taken.  When no favorable response is received within that period, the Ombudsman may report this to the Board of Directors in a special report or in the annual report.

V. CONFIDENTIALITY

21. All investigations and interventions of the Ombudsman are conducted in confidence.

22. The Ombudsman and the staff assigned to the Ombudsman’ must keep the information received in the performance of their duties strictly confidential.

23. The Ombudsman and the staff assigned to the Ombudsman must undergo a Level II Secret Security Screening with the NCC Security Division and maintain the clearance during the time of the contract.