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     November 2012        

Released on November 01, 2012, 3:00 AM EDT
Tag #: 641

City’s Labour and Employment Legal Expenses Continually Soar
2011 outside legal counsel expenses paid to the one single firm reached $

In 2011, one single legal firm which received a contract for outside legal counsel collected $ 681,682.27 for their services from the City. The estimated annual budget was $ 151,865. It is now 348.87% over the budget. WikiLeaks Sudbury uncovered 99 transactions belonging to 8 accounts. The controversial account # 69238 also appeared once on 2011 payments in which the city paid $ 319,020.80.

According to the Request for Proposal submitted to City council, the anticipated expenses for 3 years should not be more than $455,597 or $151,865 annually.

The city’s legal department consists of 4 lawyers and 7 support staff. The legal services department’s total full time staff level increased from 10 to 11. Interestingly, Human Resources and Organizational Development Department hired 2  additional employees, increasing the total full time staff level to 22.

Regardless of all internal full time position increases, the City’s Human Resources and Organizational Development Department hired two outside legal firms to handle their labour and employment matters. The job was divided to two legal firms and Karen Matthies, a Relief Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development, participated in the selection committee.

To protect economic interest of the third party WikiLeaks Sudbury will not disclose names of the legal firms.

The outrageous legal expenses are a clear indicator of incompetence of its Divisional Director whom manages human resources matters in the City.

Tax payers of the City have a right to know how and why their tax dollars were spent for outside legal firms concerning labour and employment matters.

Kevin Fowke is the Director of the Human Resources and Organization Development for the City of Greater Sudbury.

Details - Total Payments 2011 Click here

Categorization by Accounts
20195 Click here 66130 Click here
49065 Click here 67047 Click here
65910 Click here 67136 Click here
65911 Click here 69238 Click here

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Request for Proposal Approved by City Council

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Released on
November 01, 2012 at 3:00 AM EDT

The original article initially published on Public Performance & Management Review, 35(3), 399–421. Excerpts from the article as follows.

Blame Avoidance in Public Reporting: Evidence from a Provincially Mandated Municipal Performance Measurement Regime

Mandatory public reporting is a responsibility bestowed on managers in the public sector. The information contained in public reporting can be marginally helpful to managers in their day-to day jobs. Public managers have different needs than citizens regarding the level of detail and sophistication of information about their agency’s performance.

Public reporting constitutes one of the functions of the chief executive, as identified by Luther Gulick’s POSDCORB (Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting, and Budgeting). The promotion of information that citizens can easily understand and care about would also be one of the purposes of performance management.

Concomitant to the responsibility to inform the public, public agencies operate in an environment characterized by the presence of a negativity bias. A negativity bias is the principle that “negative events are more salient, potent, dominant in combinations, and generally efficacious than positive events”. This bias derives from the grievance asymmetry of citizens, who “often take good government for granted and pay more attention to insufficient performance”. Consequently, publicly reporting on poor results has limited appeal in public agencies. The theory of results-based management spells out that selective reporting is a hallmark of the public sector.

The research presented in this article is framed by blame avoidance theory. It takes advantage of the natural setting of a mandatory municipal performance regime in the Canadian province of Quebec to study performance reporting. More specifically, the study evaluates predictors of municipal managers’ recourse to a presentational strategy of using justifications in their public reporting. Data from Quebec’s Municipal Management Indicators regime (Indicateurs de gestion municipaux) are used to establish whether recourse to justifications in reporting is associated with achieved performance. One distinctive aspect of Quebec’s municipal performance measurement regime is the availability to municipal managers of a predetermined list of influential factors for their reporting. The recourse to influential factors enables managers to offer justifications in their mandatory reporting of standardized indicators. The case of Quebec offers an opportunity to statistically analyze recourse to presentational strategies in public reporting. This is a novel contribution, since studies on public sector reporting typically use content analysis. Quebec’s Municipal Management Indicators regime provides a set of data capturing both management behaviors and performance data.

When applied to public bureaucracies, blame avoidance theory frames the strategies taken by managers to cope with a negativity bias. In the context of public reporting, the occurrence of blame avoidance would take away from transparency. There are three main strategies for avoiding blame: the presentational strategy (spin your way out of trouble), the agency strategy (find a scapegoat), and the policy strategy (don’t make contestable judgments that create losers). From the perspective of municipal managers in a provincially mandated performance measurement regime, the presentational strategy is the only available one. The presentational strategy consists of “selecting arguments to minimize or avoid blame, for example in choosing between excuses intended to mitigate blame and justifications designed to turn blame into credit”

Municipalities could decide to only report numerical values for their data. However, for almost half the non-financial indicators reported that year, municipal managers took the opportunity given them to add justifications for the values of their indicators in the form of predetermined influences. The performance achieved by municipalities influenced their recourse to justifications in reporting. All things considered, for most indicators, declining performance of municipalities, as measured historically, influenced reporting. This holds true even with the delay granted municipalities by the provincial government.

Charbonneau, E.; Bellavance, E.. (2102). Blame Avoidance in Public Reporting. Evidence from a Provincially Mandated Municipal Performance Measurement Regime.  Public Performance & Management Review, 35(3), 399–421.

WikiLeaks Sudbury
November 01, 2012.

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Blame Avoidance in Public Reporting: Evidence from a Provincially Mandated Municipal Performance Measurement Regime  




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