As the Chair of the Audit Committee, I lead a Committee of four Councillors and three financial expert citizen members. Our external Auditor and City internal Auditor both report to Council through the Audit Committee. The City CFO is also an important member of the Audit Committee.
I am happy to report to you the success of the City Auditor’s Office over the last year. This Office allows me to ensure that the organization is persistently driving for efficiencies and that cost-benefit analysis is continually performed at the department level. The City Auditor is a designated officer appointed by Council and is independent of the City's Administration. It is important that the City Auditor’s Office remains independent of City Administration so it can provide nonbiased review of processes for efficiency and effectiveness. The City Auditor’s Office provides checks and balances for Administration, accountability of public fund spending, and ensures value for money in City operations.
Before the Council summer break, three strategic Reports were presented at Audit Committee. These Reports were part of the Approved City Auditor’s Office 2014 & 2015 Annual Audit Plan. These plans included an audit on Transportation Planning’s Project Prioritization, an Ethics Program Assessment and Contact Procurement, specifically the Request for Tenders (RFT) Process. The following are summaries of three recent Internal Audit Reports – all Reports can be found at the corresponding links.
The Transportation Planning Audit – Project Prioritization Report includes four recommendations to provide greater transparency in assisting Council’s understanding of how this department prioritizes projects, how projects align with strategic plans, and to ensure funds are allocated to projects that provide the greatest return on investment. As several transportation projects need to be initiated or completed within the next decade, and there is a funding gap of $2 billion, a fully defined process of project prioritization is needed. A cost-benefit analysis is included in the management of all projects; the Auditor’s Office recommended that a cost-benefit analysis be a part of the evaluation and prioritization process. Much of this work was being done, however better reporting by management of the results was acknowledged as an area for improvement.
The Ethics Program consists of a Code of Conduct and Whistle-blower Program. The Code of Conduct provides employees with a set of City policies to maintain a healthy workplace. The Whistle-blower program is a mechanism to report suspected acts of waste or wrongdoing for employees and citizens. The City’s Code of Conduct Program is a well-established program that consists of nine polices to encourage respectful, ethical, and safe behaviour in the workplace. These policies are available to the public on calgary.ca and trainings are communicated to staff regularly.
KPMG conducted an external assessment of the City’s Ethics Program to identify opportunities for improvement and compare to leading practices of similar organizations that have comparable job diversity. The City does not currently require staff to sign-off on the Code of Conduct policy and will consider implications of a required sign-off including legal and collective agreements as well as differences for field and office staff. The Office of the Councillors provides a unique role at the City and follows the Council’s Ethical Conduct Policy; Human Resources is looking at how to integrate the organizational wide Code of Conduct.
As the City’s Ethics Program has been developed overtime, many of the issues identified through the assessment were based on the decentralized environment of the program design. The City plans on improving training and awareness of the Code of Conduct. The City has committed to enhancing efforts of this program and agrees with the assessment recommendations and auditor’s report. Current practices will be enhanced with plans for a more centralized approach through the Chief Financial Officer’s department under the City Manager.
As Chair of the Audit Committee, I had the privilege of moving the key motions for the establishment of the new Integrity Commissioner position for the City. This person will report directly to Council. A selection committee composed of the Mayor, Councillor Farrell, and myself has been appointed by Council and we are beginning the search process now.
An efficiency Audit was conducted producing seven recommendations to the Supply Department regarding Contract Procurement, particularly the Request for Tender (RFT) process of high value projects (great than $200,000). These recommendations focused on cycle time and noted that review of draft RFT, prior to public posting, proved to be the longest part of the process. Several areas of opportunities to improve RFT cycle time were identified including group collaboration, automation of process steps, and project prioritization. Cycle time can have significant impacts on project timelines which can lead to increased project costs. The City Auditor’s Office suggested recommendations be examined by the Supply Department to increase efficiency of RFT process with priority placed on project prioritization.
This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.