Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank you for this opportunity to discuss the results of the review conducted by the green ribbon panel and to introduce our new Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. Scott Vaughan, to the committee.
As you are all aware, the Auditor General Act was amended in 1995, and those amendments gave us specific responsibilities with respect to environmental and sustainable development issues and notably created the position of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.
Twelve years after our act was amended, and consistent with past reviews of the office's other products to help us better serve Parliament, in Spring 2007, I asked an independent panel of experts to review the environment and sustainable development practice of our office.
The members of the panel were chosen for their valuable knowledge of environmental and sustainable development issues. They are Elizabeth Dowdeswell, James Mitchell and Ken Ogilvie.
The panel's report, Fulfilling the Potential, was presented to me and then provided to you with my responses earlier this year. The panel concluded that the Office of the Auditor General and the commissioner have had a positive impact on the federal government's management of environmental and sustainable development issues. It also emphasized that we have developed a strong domestic and international reputation as a centre of excellence in environmental auditing.
While the panel recognized our good work, it also pointed out several ways for us to strengthen our practice for dealing with environmental and sustainable development issues. The office has agreed with all nine recommendations contained in the report and that are presented as appendix I.
Among the more significant recommendations, the panel noted that we should make full use of the commissioner's existing mandate, using all our valuable tools, to draw parliamentary and public attention to key environmental and sustainable development issues.
It also recommended that we articulate how sustainable development will be effected into our work plan. We are currently working on various options that will help us respond to both these recommendations.
I committed to revisiting our strategy to implement our environmental and sustainable development mandate and to formalize our new strategy within one year of the new commissioner's appointment. During the course of this review, we will be contacting parliamentarians for their views.
I know that the committee has shown much interest in the reporting of the commissioner's work. Let me assure you that the commissioner will continue to issue a separate and distinct report or reports. We have been experimenting with different tabling approaches and we will continue to do in the coming year—all in an effort to increase awareness of our work.
Now, Mr. Chair, I'm very pleased to present to the committee the newly appointed Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr. Scott Vaughan, who has been in the office only since Monday. He was selected following a rigorous process and, you will see, is eminently qualified for the position. Mr. Vaughan is an environmental economist with many years of experience. You will find details on his career path in the news release that is attached to this statement, which was made public today.
I will now ask Mr. Vaughan to address the committee.