In August 2018 the Office of the Auditor General received a complaint alleging a number of serious concerns with activities related to the International Centre of Regulatory Excellence (ICORE) at the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER). AER is a provincial government agency tasked with ensuring the safe, efficient and environmentally responsible development of Alberta’s energy resources.
After determining there was much more to ICORE activities at AER than disclosed in the annual reports, board minutes and other publicly accessible information, and that the allegations warranted detailed examination, we conducted a comprehensive examination of AER ICORE-related activities.
A prevalent finding in our examination was ineffective controls in relation to ICORE activities. Specifically:
- AER engaged in activities outside of its mandate and public money was spent inappropriately on ICORE activities.
- Controls and processes to protect against potential conflicts of interest failed.
- AER Board oversight was ineffective.
- Financial, information management, and human resource controls were ineffective.
- Controls to track and monitor expenses related to ICORE activities were at first non-existent and then poorly implemented.
- The tone at the top at AER did not support a strong control environment or compliance with policies