The Auditor General of Alberta has released his two-volume 2006-2007 Annual Report today. This year we examined the government’s systems for ensuring safe and sufficient infrastructure, protecting children at risk, getting an appropriate return on non-renewable resources, and making reasonable revenue forecasts.
Four major systems audits
- Assessing and prioritizing Alberta’s infrastructure needs (Vol. 1, p. 39)—government has systems but it should improve them. It has to finish developing guidelines for assessing and prioritizing projects. It should also include information on the amount and how to reduce deferred maintenance in the Capital Plan.
- Child intervention services (Vol. 1, p. 79)—Children’s Services has comprehensive systems to deliver child intervention services. The systems are operating as intended. However, the systems could be improved. The Department should update the child intervention standards and improve compliance monitoring processes.
- Energy’s royalty review systems (Vol. 1, p. 115)—government can better explain the objectives, targets and performance of Alberta royalty regimes. The Department of Energy should complete and disclose reviews of royalties in a timely manner. Our recommendations are intended to improve processes to ensure the ongoing review and relevancy of the three Alberta royalty regimes and create accountability to all Albertans.
- Government’s revenue forecasting systems (Vol. 1, p. 142)—government has adequate systems for preparing revenue budgets and forecasts. The government’s actual revenues have exceeded budgets by an average of $5 billion in the last 4 years; the majority of the variance is due to factors beyond the government’s control. However, government should improve forecasting processes for investment income, personal income tax revenue and corporate income tax revenue. It also should improve the information in the budget documents to help readers better understand the revenue forecasts.
Audit work in ministries and other entities
- Government credit cards (Vol. 1, p. 174)—Treasury Board, working with all other departments, should further improve controls for the use of government credit cards. At the former Department of Economic Development, we found that the use of government credit cards did not comply with the directives and policies. Without appropriate processes in place to enforce compliance with policies, government credit cards may be misused.
- Information technology service level agreements (Vol. 2, p. 146)—Service Alberta should revise its service level agreements with client ministries to ensure the agreements are current, clarify the level of services provided, and define the roles and responsibilities of each party. Service Alberta may not be providing the right services, and the governments and Albertans’ confidential information may not be secure.
- Legislative Assembly Office—payments to Members (Vol. 2, p. 189)—the Members’ Services Committee should clarify policies and guidelines around Members’ purchases of gifts, and payments of bonuses to constituency employees. Failure to provide clear and detailed guidance may cause a Member or the Legislative Assembly Office to misinterpret what is suitable.