I have a very brief opening statement and a bit of a presentation. I think it was circulated. I think I can do it within about eight or 10 minutes.
Mr. Chair, we are pleased to have this opportunity to present an overview of the mandate of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.
With me today are Andrew Hayes, deputy auditor general and interim commissioner of the environment and sustainable development; Karen Hogan, assistant auditor general responsible for financial audits; and Martin Dompierre, assistant auditor general responsible for performance audits.
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada supports Parliament and territorial legislatures by providing independent and objective information, advice and assurance about government financial statements and the management of government programs. The commissioner of the environment and sustainable development supports the Auditor General in carrying out the parts of our mandate that relate to the environment and sustainable development.
We conduct all of our audits in accordance with Canadian Auditing Standards. Our audits and our system of quality control are subject to internal practice reviews and to independent external reviews to provide assurance that you can rely on the quality of our work.
ln this regard, we have recently provided your committee with the results of an international peer review on the work of our office. That review was commissioned by the late auditor general, Michael Ferguson, and was led by the Office of the Auditor General of South Africa.
We are pleased to inform you that the review team found that our office adhered to relevant legislation and professional standards in the execution of its mandate and that our system of quality control was suitably designed and effectively implemented.
In addition, our office helps to advance legislative audit methodology and accounting and auditing standards, and we work nationally and internationally to build audit capacity and to promote better-managed and accountable public sector institutions.
Let me now turn to the presentation of our office's mandate and products. We provided you with a presentation for your reference, and I will now speak about some key elements.
Traditionally, the office submits four reports to Parliament annually. In the fall and spring, the Commissioner and the Auditor General each present a report.
The Auditor General's authority is granted by Parliament. Various pieces of legislation define our powers and responsibilities, including the Auditor General Act and the Financial Administration Act.
For the office's budget, the main estimates total $88.2 million for the current year, for 580 full-time equivalents. The office's staff includes accountants, engineers, lawyers, information technology professionals, environmental specialists, and economists. In addition to the Ottawa office, we also have an office in Vancouver, one in Edmonton, one in Montreal and one in Halifax.
On page 6, you can see that the Auditor General is appointed for 10 years and can be removed only for cause by the Governor in Council on address of the Senate and the House of Commons. The Auditor General chooses what, when and how to audit and has access to any government information required to do the job. All of those elements help to safeguard our independence.
On page 7, listed are our activities: doing financial audits, performance audits and special examinations of Crown corporations. We also review the government's sustainable development strategies and manage the environmental petitions process.
On page 8, in regard to the financial audits, they include the annual audits of the summary financial statements of the Government of Canada and the three territories. They also include annual audits of Crown corporations and other entities at the federal and territorial levels.
On page 9, regarding performance audits, in these audits we assess whether government programs are being managed with due regard to economy, efficiency and the environment and have measures in place to determine effectiveness. We examine management practices, controls and reporting systems and compare them to the government's own policies and best practices. We may comment on policy implementation but not on the policy itself.
On page 10, briefly, we list special exams. It's a type of performance audit. This is something that we do at least every 10 years for each parent Crown corporation.
I'm now going to go to page 13, which is about the external oversight of the office. Obviously there is this committee, which holds hearings on our departmental plan and our departmental results reports. There's an external auditor appointed by the Treasury Board to audit our financial statements, and that report is tabled in the House of Commons. We have an audit committee, and all voting members are external, including the chair.
The OAG is subject to external reviews by provincial accounting institutes. As I mentioned in the opening statement, every 10 years there is an international peer review conducted at the request of the Auditor General.
In conclusion, Mr. Chair, we are looking forward to working with your committee, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have.