N.S. auditor general flags unfinished work for government departments, agencies

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Kim Adair is Nova Scotia's auditor general. (Robert Guertin/CBC - image credit)
Kim Adair is Nova Scotia's auditor general. (Robert Guertin/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia's auditor general says the provincial government has a lot of work to do to complete outstanding recommendations from performance audits in 2019.

Kim Adair released status updates on Tuesday for performance audits her office conducted in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Although 90 per cent or more of recommendations from 2017 and 2018 have been completed, just 57 per cent of the 2019 recommendations are done.

"This is one of the lowest first-year followup rates seen by the office in recent years," Adair said in a video released along with the report.

"Government has critical work to do to get back on track and complete the 20 remaining recommendations."

'I don't have major concerns'

Those recommendations span a number of departments and agencies. But areas with the most remaining work relate to selection and quality management of bridge projects by Public Works in the province's central and western districts, and efforts to improve diversity and inclusion across the Public Service.

Despite the results, Adair said she expects the results will improve next year when her office does a subsequent followup.

"It didn't surprise me and I don't have major concerns," she said.

Several government departments said their work on remaining recommendations was hampered by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that they are on track for completion this year.

Remaining recommendations from audits in 2017 and 2018 include comprehensive risk assessments for IT projects before systems are brought online, and the implementation of emergency department safety recommendations to improve workplace safety.

Update on ALC audit

Adair also released a joint followup report with her fellow auditors general from Atlantic Canada on a 2016 governance audit of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

Although the Crown corporation's board and management completed all of their recommendations in 2018, four remain uncompleted by the four shareholder governments.

Two of those recommendations — regular reviews of the shareholders' agreement and the employee pension plan — are in the works, according to responses from the governments included in the report.

But the governments continue to reject the other two recommendations — that board members should not be elected officials or employees of government, and that any public servants on the board be non-voting members.

Adair said the position of the four governments runs counter to the principles of good governance. She and her colleagues are also calling on the ALC to establish term limits for the board chair.

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