P.E.I.'s new auditor general is concerned about government departments not implementing recommendations outlined in the office's annual reports.
Speaking to MLAs during a committee meeting on Tuesday, Darren Noonan explained that 93 per cent of the auditor general's recommendations were implemented in 2012. That number fell to a low of 33 per cent in 2015.
In 2017, the last year numbers are available, fewer than half — 43 per cent — of the auditor general's recommendations were put in place.
This issue was first raised in the 2020 report, presented by then auditor general Jane MacAdam.
Noonan says the trend is concerning. He's calling on the public accounts committee, a legislative committee tasked with overseeing the fiscal management of the province, to address the issue.
"We expect to see the recommendations implemented so that the taxpayers of P.E.I., they can appreciate that their money is being spent properly," Noonan said in an interview with CBC News.
'Improving the lives of Islanders'
"The public should care because as the office of the auditor general our job is to go to different departments and assess different programs on whether the money is being spent properly," Noonan said.
"Whether the programs are being run efficiently and effectively. So when we make recommendations we're making them for the intention of improving the lives of Islanders."
The auditor general checks in three years after an audit has been conducted, and then follows up again a year later to ensure government has implemented the recommendations.
Michele Beaton, chair of the public accounts committee, said her committee is planning to call in government departments to ask why they are not implementing the recommendations.
"We take the AG's recommendations very seriously," Beaton said. "To us, it's important that those recommendations are taken seriously."
'We do expect action to be taken'
The province said some of the delays were due to outstanding IT issues as well as needed changes to government regulations.
In the 2020 report, MacAdam wrote, "We do not infringe on management's right to select the best course of action to deal with the issues identified. However, we do expect action to be taken to address the issue."
There are changes coming to the way the auditor general reports to the public.
In the past, all of the auditor general's work was contained in an annual report released in March.
Now, the auditor general will be able to report more than once a year, so that once an investigation is completed, that report will be made public right away.
Noonan said it should make the office more efficient. He said that means more reviews.
In the past , the office would do two to four audits a year.
Noonan said he's hopeful to get to five to six audits going forward and that more of his recommendations will be implemented.
"Going forward, I'd like to see 100 per cent implementation," said Noonan. "Is that going to happen? Probably not."
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