The Auditor General Act requires that each annual report of the Auditor General be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Commons on or before December 31 in the year to which the report relates and that, upon receipt of the report, the Speaker table it forthwith.
If the House is not sitting at that time, the annual report is tabled on any of the next 15 sitting days. Once tabled, the report is automatically referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and only then is it released to the public.
Prior to the tabling of the report in the House, the Auditor General typically gives a briefing on its contents to members of the Public Accounts Committee at an in camera session. In addition, the Chair of the Committee normally invites Members to a “lock-up”, during which they may examine the report to be tabled later in the day and be briefed in advance by officials. A separate lock-up for the media is also normally arranged.
The Auditor General may also prepare three additional reports each year, as well as special reports on matters of pressing importance or urgency, or on the funding of the Auditor General’s Office. These reports are also referred to the Public Accounts Committee.
In recent years, the Auditor General has submitted two volumes to the House each year; one is tabled in the spring and a final volume is tabled in November or December. The final volume continues to be known as the “annual” report and contains the sections on “Matters of Special Importance”, as well as follow-ups to previous audits.
Each volume contains individually numbered chapters reporting on the various studies undertaken and the value-for-money audits of departments and agencies. Audit notes and observations may be included in any or all of the volumes, where deemed appropriate.