Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Disgraced ex-bureaucrat hired at school

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A former federal bureaucrat slammed for gross mismanagement and misusing public funds is now working for University College of the North.

Geri Knudson is listed as a human resources officer in the university's staff directory. Jim Scott, the acting external relations director at UCN, said the school is aware of the allegations against Knudson and the damning details of her conduct laid out in a recent report by the federal integrity commissioner.

But Scott said the university will not comment further on what he called a confidential personnel matter.

"We're just not going to comment on it," he said.

For nine years, Knudson worked as a Service Canada regional manager in charge of at least four offices in northern Manitoba, including The Pas and Thompson.

In a report released last week, the federal public sector integrity commissioner found that Knudson favoured family and friends in the workplace, including giving a relative a chance to earn significant overtime and hiring a family friend even though a more suitable candidate existed. The commissioner also found that Knudson used public funds to buy unnecessary items from her own business, including massagers and water bottles that cost $80 each.

Knudson also misused public funds and assets by falsifying travel claims, using a government fleet vehicle almost exclusively, even on weekends, and by buying two LCD high-definition televisions later found in her home.

The federal government has since asked the RCMP to investigate.

The Service Canada manager was not named in the integrity commissioner's report, but sources have since confirmed she is Geri Knudson. She is no longer working for the federal government.

To date, Knudson has never spoken publicly about the controversy, or responded to the integrity commissioner's findings. Calls to Knudson were not returned Friday.

Service Canada operates 18 offices in Manitoba where people can apply for employment insurance, a social insurance card, get help finding a job or access other federal programs. In northern Manitoba, there are Service Canada offices in Thompson, Flin Flon, The Pas and Swan River.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 19, 2012 A4

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