House of Commons Hansard #45 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Auditor General Act
Private Members' Business

2:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh.

Auditor General Act
Private Members' Business

2:40 p.m.

An hon. member

Easter, Mr. Speaker.

Auditor General Act
Private Members' Business

2:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Oh, Easter. Thank you to the hon. member.

It being 2.46 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, April 11, 1994 at 11 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 28(2) and 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 2.46 p.m.)

240 Sparks Street Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G6

22 March 1994

Mr. Jean-Robert Gauthier, MP House of Commons Room 443-S Centre Block Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Gauthier

I was pleased to learn that your Private Members' Bill C-207 to amend the Auditor General Act had been selected for consideration by the House and that it has been declared a votable Item. As you well know, my Office wholeheartedly supports this adjustment to our enabling legislation which would allow us to report our audits on a more timely basis.

The purpose of this letter is to reaffirm for you the major reasons why we feel the change proposed in your Bill would operate to the advantage of all parties affected including government, Parliament, this office and the taxpayers of Canada.

First, Parliament, including the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, would benefit from having more timely audit reports and being able to ensure more quickly that appropriate corrective action is taken. With the current annual report, audit findings can be more than a year old by the time they are tabled in the House. Parliamentarians could keep informed more effectively about the results of my audits if they were presented in a series of smaller reports through the year rather than in one large volume of some 700 pages. We would also be able to respond more rapidly to emerging Parliamentary interest, including those of standing committees, by reporting on completed audits when Parliament is interested in the issue.

Second, there would likely be reduced intensity of media coverage and less concentration on the more negative findings that seem to be natural by-products of the once-a-year "event" created by annual reporting. A related benefit is that the positive findings reported by my office would have a greater chance of surfacing since they would not be submerged by the negative findings set out in one annual report. Government managers, including the central agencies, would have a better chance of digesting and reacting appropriately and in a timely fashion to findings presented in a series of smaller reports.

Third, we believe that the central agencies of government would benefit from the more timely support for their various initiatives to improve management of government programs across all departments that would result from reporting our audits on a more timely basis. Periodic reports would also assist the central agencies in monitoring compliance with their guidelines and in taking early action to correct emerging government-wide problems.

Fourth, this office would benefit from efficiency improvements resulting from completing work in process rather than having to put it aside and then pick it up again at the time of tabling the annual report. The disruptive affect of the annual report tabling on the smooth and orderly flow of work through this office cannot be overemphasized.

Ultimately, the taxpayers of Canada will be the main beneficiaries. Earlier reporting of audit results will lead to faster correction of problems. And this means greater savings, reduced risk and better management generally of government programs.

Times have changed since the annual reporting requirement was established by Parliament in 1977. The business of governing is more complex. There is more information moving faster on more aspects of government today than in 1977. Periodic reporting is one way of helping all stakeholders in the work of my office deal with this increased information flow.

The trend over the last ten years in national audit offices around the world has been away from annual reporting to the reporting of audit results when the job is completed. The United Kingdom and Australia are two examples of this shift. The Comptroller

General of the United States has always reported his findings to Congress when the work is completed. From our exposure to the practices of other nations' audit offices, it seems fairly safe to say that periodic reporting is becoming the norm around the world. In our view, this would be a good time for Canada to join the trend.

I hope you will find these thoughts helpful. Should you wish to share them with any of your Parliamentary colleagues, please feel free to do so. I would be pleased to discuss any of these points with you.

Yours sincerely,

L. Denis Desautels, FCA Auditor General of Canada