Covering the Spectrum of Government Activities
The Office of the Auditor General audits a vast range of activities conducted by the Canadian federal government and the three territories. These activities cover topics such as health, culture, the environment, finance, agriculture, transportation, and scientific research, to name only a few. While the Office may comment on policy implementation in an audit, it does not comment on policy itself.
The Office audits the following:
- The federal government, which includes some 100 departments and agencies, and ranges from small boards to large, complex organizations whose activities extend across Canada and overseas
- Some 40 Crown corporations, such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Royal Canadian Mint. Under the Financial Administration Act, almost all Crown corporations must undergo a performance audit (called a special examination) at least every 10 years. In addition, their financial statements are audited annually.
- The governments of Nunavut, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and some 20 territorial corporations and agencies
With the creation of the position of Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development in 1995, the Auditor General’s responsibilities regarding environmental matters increased.
The Commissioner is responsible for monitoring sustainable development strategies of federal departments, overseeing the environmental petitions process, and auditing the federal government’s management of environmental and sustainable development issues. The Commissioner, on behalf of the Auditor General, reports to the House of Commons on all matters related to the environment and sustainable development that he considers should be brought to its attention.
Responding to Requests for Audits
Under the Auditor General Act, the Auditor General chooses which matters to examine through performance audits. The Office receives many requests to conduct audits from individual citizens, groups, members of Parliament, senators, and others. These are all carefully reviewed and taken into consideration in the selection process. However, final decisions about what to audit are made in light of our mandate, the significance of the issue, the existing audit schedule, and available resources. The Office pays particular attention to requests for audits from parliamentary committees; however, the ultimate decision about what to audit rests with the Auditor General. The process for selecting audits is explained in greater detail in the fact sheet entitled Choosing Topics for Performance Audits.