Look out the BPB is coming after you

And this time they’re using “intelligence”.  Is there any word more likely to strike fear into your heart?  Is it the Russians? The Chinese, or just a euphemism for gossip?

The BPB must have run out of complaints about private certifiers and discovered that there was little to investigate in local government, so has decided to take a broader approach to the investigation of Council employees who are accredited certifiers.

When the Government decided it made sense to accredit local government employees, the industry (and not just us) was concerned about how the BPB would handle the accreditation of Council employees and, in particular, how they would manage the dual accountability of an accredited certifier to their employer with a parallel line of accountability to the Board.
Would this set up the possibility of parallel, or sequential investigations, if a complaint is made simultaneously to the Council and the BPB, or to the Council first and then to the BPB, or whatever.  And what about penalties?  What if the Council deals with that first in a way that the BPB thinks is insufficient, or the Council nails the employee but the BPB doesn’t think it’s such a big deal?
We were assured at the time by BPB President Sue Holliday and the Board that the BPB would rely upon any investigation conducted by the Council.  They would review the adequacy of the investigation, its thoroughness, any penalty that might have been imposed, and then make their own judgement about whether anything else needed to be done.  It was an acknowledgement of the primacy of the employment relationship.

But leaving Griffith aside, complaints against accredited certifiers and councils have been few and far between.

(Griffith was a fiasco, a Council with a very long history of understaffing and under resourcing, failures to provide market rates to attract staff and even now, after their humiliation at the hands of the BPB (depaNews October 2017) the Council has now appointed a Director Sustainable Development who is neither a planner, nor a health and building surveyor.  He is a Certified Practicing Accountant who was previously the Council's Manager Economic Development and Tourism. What could possibly go wrong?)

But now we discover that the BPB in February commenced an investigation into a council employee who is accredited with the Board.  There had been no complaint to the Council, the findings themselves focus on minor administrative matters (as if something needed to be found) but more worrying was how the BPB came to be investigating in the first place.

When our member received a letter from the BPB early this month advising that findings had been made and that he, and the Council, had an opportunity to respond, it was signed off by the Manager Complaints Investigation - a job title with no uncertainty, it’s complaints investigation and that’s it.

The accredited certifier and the Council had no idea how this unexceptional domestic construction site had come to the Board’s attention.  There had been no complaint made to the Council and while lots of advice flowed back from the BPB about those sections of the Act that allow them to conduct investigations, there was no answer to the question.  What was there to hide?

And similarly for us, when we started to chase the BPB, understanding that if this can happen to one of our members, it could happen to all of them, they tried to fob us off as well.

When we claimed it was logical that if the Manager Complaints Investigation was managing the investigation then there had to be have been a complaint, we then received a response from the same person but miraculously, they were signed off as Manager Investigations.  Hard not to smell a rat.

But worse was to come, with email advice from the Manager Investigations to the accredited certifier that the Board was relying upon “intelligence or concerns that had come to the Board’s attention.”  That’s a real WTF moment if ever there was one. Not I.N.T.E.L.L.I.G.E.N.C.E, mind you, because who doesn’t love a supercomputer invented by Matt and Trey, but because that word could mean anything.  “Intelligence” from someone who sits next to you at work but doesn’t like you, a grumpy neighbour who thinks you play music too loud, or resents your success in the local garden competition, a councillor who thinks you’re too vigilant, an ex in a messy relationship separation, who knows?
But we’re going to find out.  If the BPB was going to do this they should have individually advised every accredited certifier in local government and the organisations that represent them.  That’s probably only depa at this stage (although we assume AAC and AIBS are scratching their heads) but no-one received any advice or tipoff that it didn’t just require a complaint, that the Council didn’t need to be involved, but the BPB, however they got their information, can decide to investigate you. That’s disappointing.

Here is a link to our letter of 23 May to the Director of the BPB complaining about the circumstances and attaching a couple of email trail is where we have protected the identity of the accredited certifier.  We will be meeting with the Director and the Manager Complaints investigation/Investigations on 13 June, and we’ll let you know how random and dangerous this process can be after that.

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