Audit at a Glance—Report 2—Required Reporting by Federal Organizations
Audit at a Glance Report 2—Required Reporting by Federal Organizations
What we examined (see Focus of the audit)
This audit focused on recurring reporting requirements set out in Treasury Board policies, by the Public Service Commission of Canada, and in statute. The overall objective of the audit was to determine whether selected reporting requirements for federal organizations efficiently support accountability and transparency, and generate information used for decision making in policy development and program management.
Why we did this audit
This audit is important because federal organizations must respond to an extensive list of reporting requirements. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that reporting requirements are efficient and serve their intended purposes. Some of these requirements are intended to support accountability and transparency, whereas others are intended to support the internal management of reporting organizations.
What we concluded
We concluded that of the reports we examined, those intended to support accountability and transparency were serving those purposes. This conclusion does not apply to quarterly financial reports. While these reports supported transparency, there were opportunities to improve the extent to which they supported accountability to Parliament.
We concluded that of the two reports we examined that were intended to generate information for internal decision making, one was not consistently serving this purpose.
What we found
Establishing and meeting reporting requirements
Overall, we found that clear purposes and timelines had been established for the selected reporting requirements, and that central agencies had provided guidance and support to help federal organizations meet them. However, neither the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat nor the Public Service Commission of Canada had determined the level of effort or cost required to meet these reporting requirements. Furthermore, the Secretariat has not maintained a comprehensive inventory of the Treasury Board’s reporting requirements. Although the Secretariat had made some accommodation for the sizes and mandates of reporting organizations when reporting requirements were established, we found that the Canadian Polar Commission, a small organization with 11 staff members, was still subject to 25 annual or quarterly reporting requirements.
In addition, while the federal organizations we examined were meeting the requirements intended to support accountability and transparency, they were not meeting other requirements intended to support their internal decision making for policy development and program management.
These findings are important because reporting by federal organizations supports public administration by ensuring compliance with policies and statutes, and by generating information useful to both central agencies and reporting organizations for their own decision making.
Recommendation. We made no recommendations in this area of examination.
Recommendation. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Public Service Commission of Canada, as they review existing policies or introduce new policies, should systematically adjust required reporting on the basis of its effort, cost, and value.
Recommendation. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, as it reviews existing policies or introduces new policies, should adjust required reporting on the basis of the sizes and mandates of reporting organizations.
Recommendation. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat should develop and make publicly available a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory and schedule of Treasury Board reporting requirements.
Recommendation. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat should monitor compliance of federal organizations with the Treasury Board’s reporting requirements on a risk basis and should follow up on non-compliance where warranted.
Using reported information
Overall, we found that reports intended to support accountability by demonstrating compliance with policies and statutes were serving those purposes. However, federal organizations made limited use of reported information for internal decision making, even when this was its primary purpose. In addition, we found opportunities to increase the use of the reported information beyond its intended purposes to better support decision making by federal organizations and parliamentarians.
This is important because federal organizations are required to meet extensive reporting requirements, and they expend resources to do so. If these resources are to be used efficiently, then the reports generated should both meet their intended purposes and respond to the broadest possible range of needs.
Recommendation. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat should follow up on its 2014 review of quarterly financial reports by reviewing the reports’ specific form and manner of preparation to assess whether there are more efficient ways of meeting the quarterly accountability requirements established in the Financial Administration Act.
Recommendation. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Public Service Commission of Canada should enhance their identification of opportunities to increase the use of information provided in response to reporting requirements and should act on these opportunities.
Entity Responses to Recommendations
The audited entities agree with our recommendations, and have responded (see List of Recommendations).
|Report of the||Auditor General of Canada|
|Type of product||Performance audit|
|Completion date||6 February 2015|
|Tabling date||28 April 2015|
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