CALGARY – The National Energy Board is outsourcing its whistleblower hotline to a private company after a consultant criticized flaws in its system to field complaints from tipsters who want to remain anonymous.
The federal agency says it has signed an agreement with Toronto-based ClearView Connects, a confidential reporting service, which is now accepting anonymous calls, letters and emails on the NEB’s behalf.
In a report commissioned by the NEB early last year, a consultant warned the system could put staff in direct verbal contact with tipsters and could create an electronic trail identifying tipsters if NEB telephone records were made public.
It cautioned that staff could wind up directly involved in related followup action or be able to identify the tipster and subsequently have to disclose that information under oath during a hearing.
The report prompted a revamp of the system with new safeguards in April last year, but a decision to outsource the operation was made after further review.
NEB spokeswoman Erin Dottor says the NEB reviewed its practices because the number of whistleblower reports have gradually increased, rising from six in 2012 to nine in 2015 and 10 in 2016.
She says disclosures made to ClearView that could reveal the identity of a tipster will be isolated from other NEB databases to protect the information.
She says the cost for ClearView’s service is $27,000 for one year, with an option for years two and three for $24,000.