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OP/ED: B.C.'s Auditor General short changed by government
It's time to give B.C.'s Auditor General the necessary financial resources and tools to do the job, according to figures released by IntegrityBC today which compared the budget of B.C.'s Auditor General with that of his counterpart in Alberta
For the fiscal year 2012-13, B.C.'s Auditor General has an annual budget of $15.75 million, compared to Alberta's Auditor General with a budget of $25.65 million.
Despite this $10 million difference, B.C.'s Auditor General oversees a comparable government operating budget of $43.1 billion in projected revenue for the current fiscal year and expenses of $43.9 billion; while Alberta's Auditor General oversees projected revenue of $40.3 billion and spending of $41.1 billion.
In fact, in its February budget, the B.C. government cut the Auditor General's previously approved appropriation for 2012-13 to its 2011-12 level of $15.75 million, even though the Auditor General had requested a “one-time” funding increase of $643,000 to train staff in new accounting and auditing standards, to address office space deficiencies and to enhance the office's online Audit Learning Network.
IntegrityBC noted that major audits and projects currently underway in the Auditor General's office have further eroded his budget. One such file is the Auditor General's court fight with the B.C. government over documents related to the government's settlement with Dave Basi and Bob Virk over $6 million in legal fees related to their B.C. Rail trial where both men ultimately pleaded guilty.
“No one is well-served – neither B.C. taxpayers nor MLAs – when the Auditor General is kept on a tight fiscal leash,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis. “As Auditor General John Doyle noted in his 2011-12 annual report to the Legislature: “We are a public-sector entity and, therefore, the amount of work we can produce is constrained by the funding we receive.”
“As an independent officer of the Legislature, the B.C. government should heed the Auditor General's advise regarding his office's funding needs,” said Travis.
IntegrityBC made its call for increased funding for the Auditor General, in the wake of yesterday's decision by the Speaker of the Legislature Bill Barisoff to not immediately release an audit of MLA expenses submitted by the Auditor General John Doyle.