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Auditor General notes significant improvements; also highlights need for better analysis, monitoring and reporting in important programs

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Edmonton, Alberta, Canada … Alberta’s Auditor General Doug Wylie presented his first report to the Legislative Assembly November 7. The report includes the 2017-2018 financial statement audit results of the province and 139 government ministries, departments, agencies, boards, commissions and regulated funds; three new and five follow-up performance audits; and summary of recommendations issued to government.

In his report, Wylie offers three key messages to Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) of Alberta and to Albertans:

  • The 2017-2018 financial statements of all the organizations we audit met the requirements for clarity, completeness, accuracy and timeliness.
  • There was significant improvement by government in four of the five follow-up audits completed.
  • There is a need for improvement in the analysis, monitoring and reporting in several important government programs.

Financial Statement Audit Results

In June of this year the Auditor General issued an unqualified audit opinion on the Consolidated Financial Statements of the Province, and on each of the financial statements of the 139 ministries, departments, agencies, boards, commissions and regulated funds.

“An unqualified opinion represents an independent auditor's judgment that the financial statements are fairly and appropriately presented,” Wylie said. “I am pleased that we did not have any qualified opinions on the financial statements of the organizations we audit.”

Improvements Are Being Made

The report notes the implementation of all past recommendations relating to the following previous audits:

“When government acts on our recommendations, it’s good news for Albertans,” Wylie said. “Our follow-up audit work is important because opportunities for improvement are achieved and risks are mitigated when our recommendations are implemented.”

Analysis, Monitoring and Reporting of Programs Needs to Improve

While many aspects of the processes we audited for this report are working as intended, the government can improve its analysis, monitoring and reporting processes of several government programs, Wylie said. These processes, if effective, help achieve program objectives and desired results, which can directly benefit Albertans.

“For example, the impact of wildfires on Albertans has been staggering over the last few years. In 2016, 88,000 residents were evacuated from Fort McMurray due to a devastating fire that destroyed 2,400 structures. That same fire directly cost Albertans and businesses an estimated —$3.4 billion.

“On average, every year there are 1,400 forest fires. Historically 60 per cent of these wildfires are caused by humans, and are preventable,” Wylie said. “Our audit of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s wildfire prevention program, which is designed to reduce human-caused wildfire occurrence and the potential for wildfire loss and damage, identified the analysis, monitoring and reporting of results of wildfire prevention activities could be improved.”

This need for improvement in analysis, monitoring and reporting was also a common theme in the additional following performance audits included in this report:

Annual Summary of Recommendations

As of November 2018, there are 150 recommendations to government from the Auditor General, including 12 new recommendations made in this report, and 138 outstanding recommendations from previous audits.

“Albertans entrust and expect their government to manage their money and investments well, and to deliver effective services to meet their needs and support a good quality of life,” Wylie said. “When areas of improvement have been identified by an independent auditor, Albertans should expect timely action to make that improvement. When our recommendations are not acted upon in a timely manner, it means there is a risk to either the cost or delivery of a government program or service in providing a benefit to Albertans.”

All the audit reports and information contained in the Report of the Auditor General—November 2018 can be found at www.oag.ab.ca.

For more information, please contact:

Val Mellesmoen, Executive Director, Stakeholder Engagement

Telephone: 780.644.4806 | Mobile: 780.909.5841 | Email: vmellesmoen@oag.ab.ca

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