Auditor General notes significant improvements; also highlights need for better analysis, monitoring & reporting in important programs
I am pleased to present my first report to the Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. This report includes the results of our financial statement audits of the Province of Alberta for the year ended March 31, 2018, as well as the results of three new and five follow-up performance audits.
There are three key messages in this report that I would like to share with Albertans:
- The 2017-2018 financial statements of all the government organizations we audited met the requirements for clarity, completeness, accuracy and timeliness.
- We noted significant improvement by government in four of the five follow-up audits we completed.
- There is a need for improvement in analysis, monitoring and reporting in several important government programs.
Results of Financial Statement Audits
We 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 we audit. An unqualified opinion represents an independent auditor’s judgment that financial statements are fairly and appropriately presented. Our independent audit opinion is attached to each financial statement we audit, and our summary of findings on each ministry is included in this report.
Improvements Are Being Made
When government acts on our recommendations, it is good news for Albertans. Our follow-up audit work is important because opportunities for improvement are achieved and risks are mitigated when our recommendations are implemented. I am pleased to report the implementation of all of the past recommendations relating to the following performance audits:
- Contracting for External Services Follow-up (Alberta Justice and Solicitor General)
- Occupational Health and Safety Follow-up (Alberta Labour)
- Affordable Housing Follow-up (Alberta Seniors and Housing)
- Collections of Corporate Income Tax and Filing Compliance Follow-up (Alberta Treasury Board and Finance)
Analysis, Monitoring and Reporting of Programs Needs to Improve
Many aspects of the processes we audited for this report are working as intended.
However, the government can improve its analysis, monitoring and reporting processes of several government programs. These processes, if effective, help achieve program objectives and desired results, which can directly benefit Albertans.
For example, consider the importance of government wildfire prevention processes. Historically, 60 per cent of wildfires are caused by humans and are preventable. The impact of wildfires on Albertans has been staggering over the last few years. Every year there are on average 1,400 forest fires. 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.
Effective prevention processes are important. Our audit of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s wildfire management program 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:
- Systems to Manage and Report on the Oil Sands Monitoring Program Follow-Up (Alberta Environment and Parks)
- Systems to Update Alberta’s Workforce Strategies (Alberta Labour)
- Contract Management Processes (Service Alberta)
Acknowledgement and Thanks
I extend my sincere thanks to all those who have helped our office successfully achieve our mandate over the past year. I want to thank all of the Members of the Legislative Assembly, and in particular the members of both the Standing Committee on Legislative Offices and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. I also want to thank the members of the Provincial Audit Committee, comprised of individuals with financial, governance and business backgrounds, who serve to offer wise counsel to our office on our work. I also thank those in oversight and management roles of the organizations we audit. Your cooperation is appreciated. Finally, I thank each and every member of my office for working tirelessly to make a difference through our work. To each of you I say—well done!
W. Doug Wylie FCPA, FCMA, ICD.D