Allegations of Misconduct
Allegations of misconduct or indiscipline against officers in Public Service are serious because they have potential adverse effects on a public officer’s career and livelihood.
For this reason, investigations into any allegation of misconduct or indiscipline against public officers must be dealt with in a timely and professional manner.
It is also important that any public officer who commits acts of misconduct knows that he/she will be brought to account in a relatively short space of time.
Further, there are legal implications to the Statutory Authorities Commission if the investigation of allegations are not dealt with in accordance timely manner. The Statutory Authorities Service Commission must always comply with its own regulations.
It was also thought that the Public Service Investigations Unit should be staffed by legally trained professionals so as to reduce possible challenges to the legality of the process.
What are the timelines for dealing with investigations into allegations of misconduct or indiscipline against a public officer?
The power to investigate allegations of misconduct can be found in Regulation 90 of the Public Service Commission Regulations which states:
The Public Service Commission Regulations are amended in regulation 90—
(1) Where a report or allegation of indiscipline or misconduct is made, from which it appears that an officer may have committed an offence, the Head of the Statutory Authority shall, in addition to making a report as required by regulation 85, concurrently warn the officer in writing, of such report or allegation and shall forthwith refer the matter to an investigating officer appointed by him.
(2) The investigating officer shall be appointed from the Authority in which the officer is employed and shall be of a grade higher than that of the officer against whom the report or allegation has been made, so however that where there is no officer of such a higher grade or where no such officer is available to act as investigating officer, the Commission may appoint any other person it considers suitable to be the investigating officer
(3) The investigating officer shall, within three days of his appointment, give the officer a written notice specifying the time, not exceeding seven days from the date of the receipt of such notice, within which he may, in writing, give an explanation concerning the report or allegation to the investigating officer.
(4) The investigating officer shall require those persons who have direct knowledge of the alleged indiscipline or misconduct to make written statements within seven days for the information of the Commission.
(5) The investigating officer shall with all possible despatch, but not later than thirty days from the date of his appointment, forward to the Commission, for the information of the Commission, the original statements and all relevant documents, together with his own report on the particular act.
(6) The Commission after considering the report of the investigating officer and any explanation given under subregulation (3) shall decide whether the officer should be charged with an offence and if the Commission decides that the officer should be so charged, the Commission shall, as soon as possible cause the officer to be informed in writing of the charge together with such particulars as will leave the officer under no misapprehensions as to the precise nature of the allegations on which the charge is based.
(7) Where in the explanations given under subregulation (3), the officer makes an admission of guilt, the Commission may determine the penalty to be awarded without further inquiry.
(8) Where the Commission, under section 5 of the Act has delegated to an officer or Authority its duty of deciding under subregulation (6) whether an officer shall be charged and of charging such officer with an offence, the reference in subregulations (4), (5), (6) and (7) to the Commission shall be construed as a reference to that officer or Authority.
Why the need to adhere to the timeframe as stipulated in the regulation?
When the Commission exercises the function of discipline it is exercising a quasi-judicial function. There are therefore time frames built into each stage of the disciplinary process. These ensure fairness in the process. In order for discipline to be effective it must be timely. The courts have also pronounced on the need for adherence to these time frames. In the matter of Herbert Charles v J&LSC the court stated that minor breaches of the time frame set out in the regulations would not negatively impact on the process but that major breaches of the timelines set out in the regulations would vitiate the proceedings. It is therefore important to adhere to the time frames in the regulations.
What happens after an investigation report is submitted?
The report is forwarded to the Public Service Commission who having regard to the report of the IO and the Public Officers response decides whether or no he should be charged with an offence.