Recommendations made to tighten vendor-sponsored travel by Sask. gov’t employees

Three recommendations have been made to Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe to strengthen the framework governing vendor-sponsored travel by public sector employees.

Moe directed Cam Swan, who is his deputy minister, to carry out the review in November 2018 after concerns were raised employees were gaining a personal benefit.

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Swan said on Friday no travel was undertaken that didn’t meet learning and development or procurement requirements.

He did make three recommendations to change the existing code of conduct.

One is to expand the conflict of interest policy to include clarity on vendor relationship and acceptance of gifts, including a definition of permitted vendor sponsor travel.

“Although the government of Saskatchewan’s oath of office and conflict of interest policy for public employees is similar to those across the country, I found that there is no clear policy within executive government that outlines specifics of employee behaviour as it relates vendor relationships,” Swan said.

“This report is therefore an opportunity to apply a consistent standard and definition across all ministries, Crowns and agencies.”

Swan also recommended all government employees take conflict of interest training, and to update current travel approval forms to indicate whether the travel is vendor-sponsored.

Moe said he accepts the report’s findings and is committed to implementing the recommendations.

“Our government expects all public sector employees to adhere to a high standard of conduct,” Moe said in a statement.

“I accept all recommendations made by Mr. Swan, and will ensure action is taken to implement these recommendations immediately.”

Two employees of eHealth were fired in 2018 after taking a vendor sponsor trip in 2017 to a PGA event. A third employee left eHealth shortly before the other two were fired.

The trip was sponsored by Lexmark, who has received at least $2.6 million in contracts since 2015 from eHealth.

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