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Report of the Auditor General of Alberta - March 2012 Released

A report card on financial controls at Alberta’s post-secondary institutions

MARCH 12, 2012 — Auditor General Merwan Saher released the findings of his Office’s recent financial statements audits of Grant MacEwan University, Mount Royal University, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and all public colleges. In November 2011, the Office released its findings on the four other Alberta universities.

"This is a report card on financial controls at Alberta's post-secondary institutions," said Mr. Saher. "These institutions spend approximately $4.5 billion annually to educate Albertans and help build a knowledge-based economy."

The Office found a lack of basic financial controls in some institutions – Northern Lakes College, Grant MacEwan University, Alberta College of Art and Design, NorQuest College and Olds College. The report explains the control deficiencies related to internal controls such as financial reporting, enterprise risk management and endowment management.

"The control problems at these institutions often result in significant inefficiencies, can impair the quality of information that management and the board use in decision making and increase the risk of fraud not being detected", he added.

The report also indicated that several post-secondary institutions have effective control environments — the University of Alberta, NAIT, SAIT and the University of Lethbridge were cited. Grande Prairie Regional College has significantly improved its processes and internal controls over the last two years. These institutions are in a stronger position to continuously adapt and improve their processes and controls for changes in business, regulatory requirements, accounting standards and fiscal pressures.

There are 15 recommendations in this report, 13 of which are new and two are repeated recommendations from previous reports.

The Office of the Auditor General of Alberta independently serves Albertans and their elected representatives by delivering relevant, reliable and reasonable cost audits. The Auditor General Act empowers the Auditor General and his staff to conduct audits, report findings and make recommendations.

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