The Auditor General of Alberta, Fred J. Dunn, FCA, released his Report of the Auditor General of Alberta—October 2008 today. His report includes the results of five major systems audits:
- Chief executive officer selection, evaluation and compensation (page 23)—government needs to take three actions to improve its systems: the Agency Governance Secretariat needs to improve guidance to agencies and departments on selection, evaluation and compensation processes; the Secretariat also needs to assess if agencies consistently follow those processes; and Treasury Board should consider improving public disclosure of CEO compensation information in accordance with new private-sector disclosure requirements. These actions are important because CEOs guide the strategies and actions of the agencies that provide services to all Albertans.
- Protecting information assets (page 53)—government information technology (IT) security is inadequate. We completed three separate systems audits this year—web application and network security, wireless access point security, and physical protection of data facilities. There were significant weaknesses in each area. These findings resulted in a key recommendation that the government needs to create a central security office—immediately—to oversee (develop, communicate, implement, monitor and enforce) all aspects of government-wide IT security. This is important because key financial information and the confidential personal information of all Albertans are at risk.
- Alberta’s response to climate change (page 93)—for Albertans to have confidence that government’s climate change targets can be met, management systems must improve. The Ministry of Environment needs to establish criteria for deciding specific actions, develop a master implementation plan, improve the processes for monitoring climate change results and ensure reported data is relevant and reliable. This is important because Alberta could spend substantial resources and not achieve emissions targets. Or Alberta could achieve its targets, but not cost-effectively.
- ATB Financial—treasury management (page 109)—ATB needs to substantially improve its systems to manage treasury risk. ATB needs to develop and implement investment business rules, develop a comprehensive liquidity contingency plan, and improve the effectiveness of its Asset Liability Committee. This is important because all Albertans have a stake in ATB’s success.
- Alberta’s mental health service delivery system (page 151)—the delivery of mental health services faces serious challenges. The Department of Health and Wellness and Alberta Health Services need to create provincial standards for mental health services in Alberta. Also, Alberta Health Services needs to encourage housing development and provide supportive living programs, strengthen integrated treatment for clients with severe concurrent disorders, and reduce gaps in service. Implementation of these recommendations will help achieve the goals of the Provincial Mental Health Plan and improve mental health service delivery across the Province.
The report includes other key recommendations:
- Alberta’s four universities and the Department of Advanced Education and Technology need to review the accounting treatment for the unfunded liability of the Universities Academic Pension Plan in order to enable each University to properly measure and record its share of the liability in its financial statements (page 232).
- The Alberta Investment Management Corporation needs to improve its controls by developing a top-down, risk-based process for the design, implementation and certification of its systems of internal control (page 281).
- The Department of Sustainable Resource Development needs to improve its systems for managing Alberta’s sand and gravel resources by improving its inspection and enforcement of land reclamation (page 356).