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CAA addresses SSC report findings

MEDIA RELEASE on behalf of CAA

CAA addresses SSC report findings

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has already taken significant steps to address the issues covered in an independent review of the CAA, released today by Authority Chairman Rodger Fisher.

Mr Fisher asked for the State Services Commission (SSC) review following concerns about the way the CAA handled conflicts of interest. The review was conducted by Douglas White QC.

"Even before asking for the SSC review I instructed the CAA's chief legal counsel to review the organisation's conflict of interest policy and recommend improvements. As a result a new and much clearer conflict of interest policy was developed and was ratified by the Authority in June.

"The review acknowledges this and recommends some further enhancements to the policy, which we will adopt.

"We also intend to thoroughly review the policies, procedures and practices for special purpose inspections and investigations relating to the suspension of aviation documents and the guidelines for fit and proper person investigations. We will make any necessary changes, consistent with the report's recommendations."

Mr Fisher said the review also made findings that were critical of decisions made by the Director of Civil Aviation Mr John Jones and of actions by a CAA investigator who has since been dismissed.

"These are significant criticisms which the Authority takes very seriously.

"We have carefully considered the report in relation to the actions of the Director of Civil Aviation and have taken the following steps:

- The Director has received a formal warning.

- The Director will be required to demonstrate that the Authority's concerns in relation to the report's findings are fully addressed.

- The Director has been advised of the process to be followed to do this.

- The Director's compliance with the Authority's requirements will be independently monitored so the Authority may have confidence the requirements are fully met."

CAA Director John Jones said he accepted the reports findings and the actions taken by the Board.

"I acknowledge that I made errors of judgement and will work closely with the Authority to implement the necessary changes and ensure that public confidence in the CAA is retained," said Mr Jones.

Mr Fisher said the issues relating to the former CAA investigator were more serious and as a result of information that came to light through the review, the CAA had already dismissed the person.

"The Director and the inspector both committed serious errors of judgement, but this is not what led to the inspector's dismissal. The inspector was dismissed because he misled both the CAA and the reviewer as to the true extent of his involvement with the company at the centre of the review. The circumstances that led to the CAA's decision are covered in the report."

The Chairman said he regretted the damage done to the reputation of the CAA but that the public could have confidence in the integrity of the system.

"The fact that the CAA called for this review; has released the report; accepts the findings fully and has taken a number of steps already to address the issues shows that we are willing to be accountable for our actions and to examine systems and procedures and make improvements where necessary.

"I think the flying public should be greatly reassured by that openness and the willingness to identify shortcomings and put them right," said Mr Fisher.

****************

Attachments:

1. Executive Summary of the Report for the State Services Commissioner on Civil Aviation policies, procedures and practices relating to conflicts of interest and conduct of special purpose inspections and investigations by Douglas White, QC.

2. Review Terms of Reference

Note: The full report is available online at the State Services Commission website: www.ssc.govt.nz

****************

Attachment 1

REPORT FOR

STATE SERVICES COMMISSIONER

ON CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY

POLICIES PROCUEDURES AND PRACTICES

RELATING TO CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND

CONDUCT OF SPECIAL PURPOSE

INSPECTIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS

DOUGLAS WHITE QC

28 NOVEMBER 2003

INDEX

Section Page

1. Executive summary 3

Conflicts of interest in the CAA 3

Policies, procedures and practices for 4

special purpose inspections and investigations

relating to the suspension of aviation documents

Other cases investigated 6

Guidelines for fit and proper person 7

investigations following suspension of licence

1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Conflicts of interest in the CAA

1.1 For the reasons given in section 4 of the report, I have reached the following conclusions -

- In May 2002 the CAA had no conflict of interest policies or procedures in place relating to CAA staff other than provisions of the staff collective employment agreement and individual employment agreements: paragraphs 4.14 and 4.28-4.29.

- The provisions of the staff collective employment and individual employment agreements provided some guidance as to the identification and management of conflicts of interest: paragraphs 4.15-4.17.

- There were several conflicts of interest in the case which gave rise to the review: paragraphs 4.18-4.27.

- To the extent that the provisions of the investigator's employment agreement were appropriate and were followed by the parties, they were not effective: paragraphs: 4.30-4.36.

- The Director, in the case which gave rise to the review, was wrong to consider there was no real conflict of interest, erred in giving his approval to the engagement of the investigator as a part-time consultant, and the investigation which he later undertook for the Authority was inadequate: paragraphs 4.30-4.40.

- The CAA's current policies and procedures for identifying and managing conflicts of interest are a considerable improvement on the position in May 2002, but they could be further enhanced in certain respects: paragraphs: 4.39-4.44.

Policies, procedures and practices for special purpose inspections and investigations relating to the suspension of aviation documents

1.2 For the reasons given in section 5 of the report, I have reached the following conclusions -

- The CAA had a number of policies and procedures in place in May 2002 which related to surveillance, spot checks, the suspension of aviation documents, and investigations: paragraphs 5.3-5.14.

- The policies and procedures were adequate, but could be improved in certain respects: paragraphs 5.5, 5.7-5.8, 5.10-5.11 and 5.13.

- The CAA had a number of policies and procedures in place in May 2002 which related to "fit and proper person" investigations: paragraphs 5.16-5.19.

- The policies and procedures were adequate in respect of applications for or renewals of aviation documents, but did not address all the issues which are likely to arise when a person's status was under review following suspension: paragraphs 5.16-5.20.

1.3 For the reasons given in section 6 of the report, I have reached the following conclusions -

- The covert spot check of the aviation company in the case which gave rise to the review complied in general terms with the relevant policies and procedures, but if devices such as aviation radio frequency scanners are to be used by CAA investigators the CAA needs to have a policy relating to them: paragraph 6.2.

- The special purpose audit or inspection of the aviation company dated 3 May 2002 complied with the relevant policies and procedures: paragraphs 6.3-6.4.

- There were no appropriate or effective policies or procedures in place in May 2002 relating to the appointment of a person to conduct a "fit and proper person" investigation of the suspended owner of the aviation company: paragraphs 6.6-6.8.

- There were no appropriate policies or procedures in place in May 2002 relating to the question of disclosure to the owner's employer of his suspension or investigation: paragraph 6.9.

- There were appropriate policies and procedures in place in May 2002 relating to the need to interview the suspended person for the purpose of the "fit and proper person" investigation, but the policies and procedures were not effective because they were not followed: paragraphs 6.10-6.15.

- The CAA failed to comply with s 10(5) of the Civil Aviation Act 1990 in that the "fit and proper person" report contained information that was or might have been prejudicial to the suspended owner, but was not disclosed to him: paragraphs 6.16-6.20.

- There were no policies and procedures in place in May 2002 relating to negotiations between the CAA and the suspended owner as to his licence: paragraphs 6.21-6.22.

- The question whether such negotiations should be permitted requires careful consideration by the CAA: paragraphs 6.23.

Other cases investigated

1.4 For the reasons given in section 7 of the report, I have reached the following conclusions -

- In one other "fit and proper person" investigation the CAA investigator had inappropriately disclosed to the pilot's employer the nature of the recommendation in his report to the Director which was also qualitatively deficient: paragraphs 7.2-7.8.

- In another "fit and proper person" investigation the CAA investigator may have inappropriately disclosed confidential information in the course of a third party interview and again written a qualitatively deficient report: paragraphs 7.9-7.14.

- A suggestion that the CAA had a systemic conflict of interest because it regulated design organisations while it was also itself in the design modification business and competing for business with organisations which it regulated did not raise concerns within my terms of reference because the steps taken by the CAA and Director were authorise by the current statutory and regulatory framework: paragraphs: 7.18-7.26.

Guidelines for fit and proper person investigations following suspension of licence

1.5 Section 8 of the report contains suggestions for the purpose of providing some assistance to the CAA in developing appropriate guidelines for "fit and proper person" investigations following suspension of the person's licence.

****************

Attachment 2

Terms of Reference for Review of Civil Aviation Authority

Introduction

The Civil Aviation Authority ("the CAA") is established under the Civil Aviation Act 1990.

The CAA's principal function is the promotion of safety in civil aviation, at a reasonable cost. In furtherance of that function, the CAA is responsible for, among other things, establishing safety and security standards relating to the civil aviation system, and monitoring adherence to those standards.

The Director of Civil Aviation also has specific statutory functions and powers relating to the control of entry to the civil aviation system through the issue of aviation documents and enforcement of the requirements of the Act which includes monitoring of performance through inspections and audits.

Background to Review

In May 2002, following the conduct of a Special Purpose Inspection and the Director's suspension of aviation documents related to an aviation company, a person employed by the CAA as a Flight Operations Inspector, who was also the Team Leader for the inspection, entered into an agreement with that company to assist it in the preparation of certain manuals necessary to obtain an air operator certificate under the Civil Aviation Act.

The Chairman of the CAA has asked the State Services Commissioner to review the conflicts of interest on the part of the Flight Operations Inspector and/or the CAA. The Chairman's request is made under section 11 of the State Sector Act 1988.

Terms of reference

Conflict of interest

To review and make recommendations regarding:

1 The CAA's internal policies and procedures for identifying and managing conflicts of interest, current in May 2002, with particular regard to:

1.1 whether those procedures adequately identified the conflicts likely to arise in a regulatory and monitoring agency such as the CAA;

1.2 whether there was a conflict of interest in the case in question;

1.3 whether those procedures were appropriate, effective and followed in that case;

1.4 whether the Director acted properly in that case.

2 The adequacy of the CAA's current policies and procedures for identifying and managing conflicts of interest.

Special Purpose Inspections and Investigations

To review and make recommendations regarding:

3 The adequacy of CAA's internal practices, including policies and procedures, for the conduct of:

3.1 Special Purpose Inspections, and

3.2 investigations relating to the suspension of aviation documents,

3.3 with regard to the case in question or to any other case that may be drawn to the reviewer's attention.

4 Whether those internal practices, policies and procedures relating to the conduct of Special Purpose Inspections, and investigations relating to the suspension of aviation documents were appropriate, effective and followed in the case in question.

General

5 Any other matter concerning the CAA, including the Board, the Director or the employees of the CAA that the reviewer considers relevant to the foregoing questions.

Reviewer

Douglas White QC

Appointed by the State Services Commissioner pursuant to section 25 of the State Sector Act.

Under section 25 of the State Sector Act, the Commissioner and persons he appoints under section 25(2) of the State Sector Act have the same powers to summon witnesses and to receive evidence as are conferred on a Commission of Inquiry by the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1908.

ENDS

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