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2006 May Status Report of the Auditor General of Canada

May 2006 Status Report—Chapter 4

Appendix B—Government's Response to the Twenty-Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (selected excerpts), and the status

Recommendations

Government response

Auditor General's 2006 Status Report reference

Recommendation 1

That the Department of the Solicitor General prepare, in cooperation with its federal partners in the gun control program, a special report to be filed with the Clerk of the House of Commons no later than 31 December 2003 that provides the full costs of the Canadian Firearms Program across government together with data on the revenues collected and refunds made on a retroactive basis using an activity-based framework in accordance with the government's regulatory policy.

On October 30, 2003 the Minister of Justice tabled in Parliament the Department of Justice's Performance Report for the year ended March 31, 2003. This report included expanded information on the Canadian Firearms Program including: a fulsome discussion of the year's activity, disclosure of a full federal government cost history, net revenues and refunds, as well as a summary of program results, challenges and lessons learned. This expanded disclosure responded to the recommendations of the Auditor General and is consistent with the special report information requested by the committee. This reporting was also supported in the Gun Control Program Action Plan.

The specific report recommended by the Committee was not done. The Centre through various reports has provided much of the information.

Refer to paragraphs 4.11 to 4.29.

Recommendation 2

That in those instances in which retroactive data on costs, revenues, and refunds are not available, the Department of the Solicitor General provide a full explanation in the special report.

The Departmental Performance Report referenced above contained all cost, revenue and refund information since the inception of the program in 1995-96. Limitations ... are disclosed in the notes to the schedule. None of the limitations or assumptions has a significant negative effect on the usefulness of the information. For example, amounts were rounded to the nearest one hundred thousand dollars.

Refer to paragraphs 4.11 to 4.29.

Recommendation 3

That the Department of the Solicitor General include, in its special report, forecasts of costs and revenues to the point at which the Department expects the Program to become fully operational, including details on outsourcing major components of the Canadian Firearms Registration System and moving certain headquarters functions to Edmonton.

Effective in April 2003, the Canada Firearms Centre (CAFC) was established as a stand-alone department for the purposes of the Financial Administration Act. It is now a department within the portfolio of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (formerly the Solicitor General). As such, it will now report directly to Parliament, through the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on its plans and priorities on an annual basis. Its first Report on Plans and Priorities is to be tabled in Parliament in 2004. This report will reflect the Program's strategic directions, major outcomes and a forecast of costs and revenues over the planning horizon.

The Gun Control Program Action Plan also recommended streamlining Headquarters function. The CAFC Headquarters has been consolidated and is now located in Ottawa.

Refer to paragraphs 4.7, 4.10 to 4.21, and 4.91 to 4.108.

Recommendation 4

That the Department of the Solicitor General include, in the special report, complete explanations for changes in costs and revenues, and changes to the overall program.

As discussed in the response to Recommendation 1, full disclosure of federal government costs and revenues for the overall program since its inception was provided to Parliament as part of the Department of Justice's 2002–03 Performance Report.

Ministers are accountable to Parliament on costs outlined in the reports, and opportunities exist to seek further explanations of costs when reports are tabled.

Refer to paragraphs 4.11 to 4.29.

Recommendation 8

That the Government of Canada implement the 1997 Project Charter, making the Canada Firearms Centre at the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada the single point of responsibility and accountability for the Canadian Firearms Program.

Effective in April 2003, the Canada Firearms Centre was created as a stand-alone Department reporting to the Solicitor General, now the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. In this capacity, it is the central point of contact for all aspects of the Canadian Firearms Program. All federal government program costs, whether incurred directly by the CAFC or by federal or provincial partners, will be reported to Parliament in the CAFC's accountability reports ([RPP, DPR] and Commissioner's Report). The CAFC's first [RPP] is expected to be tabled in Parliament in 2004.

Refer to paragraphs 4.7, 4.22 to 4.27.

Recommendation 9

That all federal participants in the delivery of the Canadian Firearms Program clearly set out their roles and responsibilities in a formal accountability framework signed by senior officials, and include this framework in the first report on the full costs of the Program.

The roles and responsibilities of federal participants are laid out in the legislative and regulatory framework of the program. Some departments and agencies carry out these responsibilities in their own right with funding provided directly by Parliament (i.e.: RCMP - [National Weapons Enforcement Support Team] NWEST and Public Works and Government Services Canada - Accommodation). Others carry out their program responsibilities on a fee for service basis (i.e.: RCMP - Canadian Police Information Centre system, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency - Import of firearms). This multi-faceted and complex program delivery structure is managed in such a way that the participants must respond in a flexible fashion to day-to-day changes in priorities. As such, it is managed on a bilateral basis rather than through one comprehensive formal accountability framework. The Centre has developed a Management Accountability Framework to guide its operations. This framework will provide the basis for the Centre's first [RPP]. The affected Departments are required by Parliament to report on their activities through regular reporting procedures such as [DPR]s and RPPs.

Refer to paragraphs 4.22 to 4.27.