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PACP Committee Report

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Mr. John Williams, M.P.
Chair
Standing Committee on Public Accounts
Room 750, Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6


Dear Mr. Williams:

Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, and on behalf of the Government of Canada, I am pleased to enclose the Government Response to the recommendations of the Seventh Report of the House Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

I look forward to working with you and the members of the Committee for your efforts in further supporting the work of the Office of the Auditor General and the Government of Canada.


Sincerely,



Reg Alcock

Enclosures


GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE SEVENTH REPORT OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

FEBRUARY 2005

RECOMMENDATION 1

That Treasury Board provide a permanent increase to the base budget of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada by an amount that enables the Office to fully perform all duties assigned to it by statute or as are required by Parliament, and that this increase be confirmed far enough in advance of the 2006-07 fiscal year so as to allow the Office to adequately plan its future audit agenda.

The government is committed to ensure that the Office of the Auditor General has sufficient resources to carry out its mandate.

The budget of the Office of the Auditor General has consistently kept pace with or exceeded the growth of the government’s overall program budget. Treasury Board has approved seven separate increases to the Office of the Auditor General’s reference levels from 2000-01 to November 2004, when additional permanent funding in the amount of $11.5 M was approved. As well, the Auditor General has recently stated that she has sufficient resources to fulfill her mandate.

RECOMMENDATION 2

That a new funding mechanism be established for the Office of the Auditor General, prior to the end of October 2005, that safeguards the independence of the Office and ensures that it will be able to meet the expectations of Parliament.

The government has been working closely with the Office of the Auditor General, the other four Agents of Parliament and parliamentarians on a new approach to funding and accountability that could apply to all Agents. In considering a range of new approaches to funding and accountability, the government is conscious of the need to respect the degree of independence of Agents of Parliament, the critical role of Parliament and the responsibility of the Government to ensure sound stewardship of public resources.

The government is committed to launching a pilot project for a new funding and oversight mechanism for Agents of Parliament for the 2006-07 Main Estimates.

RECOMMENDATION 3

That the new funding mechanism be referred to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts for review and comment before the end of the calendar year 2005 leaving sufficient time prior to its implementation for the Committee’s views to be taken into account and incorporated if warranted.

As indicated above, the government is committed to launching a pilot project for a new funding and oversight mechanism for Agents of Parliament for the 2006-07 Main Estimates. The government welcomes the opportunity to appear before the Committee to discuss the design and implementation plan for a new mechanism.

RECOMMENDATION 4

That Treasury Board Secretariat conduct a thorough review of departmental responses to recommendations made by the Auditor General of Canada in order to determine the reasons for the low levels of uptake and to ensure that departments fulfill commitments made in response to audit findings.

Departments and agencies are accountable for reporting to Parliament on the performance of their organizations, including the identification of significant compliance issues and actions taken to address them, in their departmental performance reports.

It is the responsibility of the deputy head and his or her management team in each department to ensure that the appropriate control environment is created and monitoring mechanisms are applied, including those that would entail following up on recommendations from the Auditor General. Departments and the Office of the Auditor General meet to discuss issues associated with implementing the recommendations, including issues related to timing and resources. The Office of the Auditor General conducts follow-up surveys to monitor departments’ progress on implementation.

Treasury Board Secretariat monitors the control environment of departments and agencies to become aware, as early as possible, of control deficiencies or compliance issues, intervenes as appropriate, and continues to monitor whether further action is needed to respond to identified deficiencies.

In response to the recommendation and in light of deputy head responsibility for establishing, monitoring and improving the control environment in their own organizations, Treasury Board Secretariat will survey departments on their challenges in the implementation of Auditor General recommendations, including issues related to associated with timing and resources. The Secretariat will then discuss the results of this survey with the Auditor General and work with departments and agencies to improve their implementation of Auditor General recommendations.

RECOMMENDATION 5

That Treasury Board Secretariat report the results of this review and the actions it plans to take as a consequence to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts no later than 31 December 2005.

The Auditor General’s recommendations cover a broad range of departments involving complex issues; therefore, the government will perform the survey work mentioned above and then determine the actions and/or corrective measures it will take in response to this recommendation.

The government commits to report to the Committee no later than 31 December 2005 on the progress it has made in surveying departments and agencies on their challenges in the implementation of Auditor General recommendations.