After spending 2 years as a member of the Audit Committee I now Chair the committee. This committee plays an important role in continually seeking ways to self-improve our governance, policy and performance targets at the City of Calgary.
In the last week the Audit Committee has received quite a lot of attention due to a particular report currently being performed by the City Auditor’s Office. The feedback I’ve been hearing from residents on this has led me to believe there is not a clear understanding about the report or the Audit function and I would like to shed some light on this issue.
There has been a lot of politicizing of this audit by some of the media and some members of Council, and following Thursday’s Audit Committee meeting, the confusion has escalated.
This audit is of the City’s procurement process, it is not an audit of any single contract, namely the Peace Bridge. This audit encompasses roughly 100 contracts covering a 4 year period.
In other words, this is a big audit! It is an important audit! It needs to be completed so that we can move forward with improving our processes, for all our procurements, not just a particular one.
So, with that background, why did I vote against the motion to bring the audit forward in April?
We clearly heard from the City Auditor that her draft report would not be complete until the end of March/beginning of April. Following the procedures of internal auditing, an integral part of the audit process includes reporting on the management response to the findings of the audit. This is a key component of not only complete audits, but of successful audits. The City Auditor advised that to complete the audit in compliance with this industry standard would deliver the Procurement Audit to committee in May.
What I heard at Audit Committee on Thursday was that forcing the Auditor to report in April would have meant an incomplete report coming before committee. Clearly the proposal would politically short-circuit the City Auditor from doing their work. Politicizing the Audit function of a public institution, such as a city government, is not an approach that is supportable. We cannot, on the one hand, have an independent audit function that we support, and then, on the other hand, force that same audit function to bring forward incomplete reports because some find it politically advantageous.
We cannot let political hyperbole drive the agenda of the Auditor’s Office. They are independent for a reason.