The Auditor General of Alberta, Fred J. Dunn, FCA, released his Report of the Auditor General of Alberta—April 2009 today. His report contains 22 recommendations. Here are the highlights:
- Bow Valley College—Contracting in the International Education and Workplace Training Department (page 13)—in November 2008, the College informed us of an alleged fraud. The College alleges the former Director of the International Education and Workplace Training Department diverted approximately $189,000 to businesses he operated or controlled directly or indirectly. We audited the processes the College used in its investigation, and the College’s related internal control systems. Our audit produced five recommendations and demonstrated the College could make significant improvements to its contracting processes. We commend the College for advising our Office in a timely manner, conducting a thorough and effective investigation, and committing to make the necessary changes to improve its systems.
- University of Lethbridge—Research Investment—Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Corp. (page 23)—we examined the risks of entering into the business relationship between the University of Lethbridge and a third party to create the Alberta Terrestrial Imaging Corp., a not-for-profit research company. We found that the University needs to develop stronger processes in considering courses of action and monitoring ongoing activities when dealing with business partners.
- Environment—Drinking Water—Follow-up (page 33)—we followed up on three of six recommendations in our 2005-2006 Annual Report. We found that the Department has made good progress, but has not yet fully implemented our recommendations for improving systems for approvals and registrations, and drinking water inspection processes. Also, the Department has implemented our recommendation on certified waterworks operators. Our follow-up work confirms the Department is now better positioned to maintain Alberta’s drinking water safety performance.
- Sustainable Resource Development—Reforestation—Follow-up (page 49)—we followed up on five recommendations in our 2005-2006 Annual Report audit of the Department’s systems to regulate reforestation. We found that the Department has implemented two recommendations and is making satisfactory progress with two others. However, the Department has not yet implemented a process to report on the effectiveness of reforestation activities so we are repeating our original recommendation.
- Transportation—Investigation of Information Technology incidents (page 63)—we were made aware of two incidents at the Department of Transportation that were characterized as computer “penetration” attempts. Our investigation of these incidents reaffirmed the security risks associated with Alberta’s decentralized approach to information technology. As a result of these findings, we will conduct a detailed review of Service Alberta’s and Departmental oversight and management of information technology sub-contractors in 2011.
- Advanced Education and Technology (page 75)—we have made 14 unnumbered recommendations to post-secondary institutions. The sheer number of recommendations, combined with the fact that many of them relate to weaknesses in basic internal controls that expose institutions to fraud and error, is a cause for concern. Also, some of the recommendations focus on improving financial reporting, which can help management to better run the institutions, and audit committees to provide more effective oversight. Grant MacEwan College has four new recommendations. These, when combined with past recommendations, indicate that the College has an ineffective control environment for an institution of its size.
- Alberta’s consolidated financial statements (page 69)—in June, the government will report on the consolidated financial statements of the province for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2009. Our goal in including this chapter is to promote a better understanding of the province’s financial affairs.