Financial Audit Glossary

A

Appropriation acts
Acts that are passed by Parliament to authorize the government to spend public monies. In appropriation acts, schedules set out votes that authorize the amounts of funding required by the government for particular activities or programs.

B

Bond rate
Yield of a long-term bond, which generally has more than 10 years to maturity.
Budget
A document prepared by the Department of Finance Canada that sets out the government’s annual economic agenda for Canada.
Budgetary expenditures
The largest portion of the government’s expenditures, including operating and capital expenditures; transfer payments to other levels of government, individuals, and organizations; public debt charges; and payments to Crown corporations.

C

Consolidated Revenue Fund
The general pool of income of the federal government. All money received by the federal government must be credited to this fund and properly accounted for.

D

Defined benefit pension plan
A type of pension plan that promises a certain level of pension, which is usually based on the plan member’s salary and years of service.
Departmental performance reports
Individual department and agency accounts of results achieved against performance expectations. The reports cover the most recent fiscal year and are normally tabled in Parliament in the fall.
Direct program spending
The portion of total budgetary spending that includes operating and capital spending and grants and contributions but excludes public debt charges and major transfers to persons and to other levels of government (as specified in the Public Accounts).
Discount rate
The rate used by the Government of Canada to estimate the value, in today’s dollars, of its long-term liabilities.

F

Financial audit
An examination as to whether the numbers presented in financial statements, or other financial information, are reasonably accurate. It isn’t designed to examine each dollar received or spent, to identify instances of fraud or wrongdoing or to assess the merits of government policy decisions.
Financial statements
A representation of a government entity’s financial position and financial performance. Financial statements include the notes and schedules (such as tables) supporting the statements.
Financial statements discussion and analysis
A section of an entity’s annual financial report that explains the significant items and transactions presented in the entity’s financial statements, as well as variances and trends.

G

Government business enterprise
A government organization that can, in the normal course of its operations, maintain its operations and meet its liabilities from revenues from outside sources.
Governor in Council
The Governor General, acting on the advice of Cabinet, as the formal executive body that gives legal effect to those decisions of Cabinet that are to have the force of law.

I

Independent auditor’s report
A written opinion of an auditor regarding an entity’s financial statements. The report is written in a standard format, as mandated by generally accepted auditing standards.
Interim Estimates
A document prepared annually by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat before the start of the fiscal year that outlines the government’s planned spending for the first 3 months of the next fiscal year.

L

Leave with income averaging arrangement
A special work arrangement that allows employees to take an extended leave without pay (for a minimum of 5 weeks and a maximum of 3 months) while averaging their income over a 12-month period. This income averaging allows them to continue receiving part of their regular salary during their leave without pay.

M

Main Estimates
A document prepared annually by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat that outlines how the government plans to spend public funds for the coming fiscal year. It is presented to the House of Commons for approval.
Management letter
A letter that identifies opportunities for changes in procedures to improve an organization’s systems of internal control, streamline its operations and/or enhance its financial reporting practices.

N

Non-budgetary expenditures
Changes in the composition of the financial assets of the government, including loans, investments, and advances.

P

Pay action requests
Anything from a request to change an employee’s address or bank account information, to a request to enter parental leave or a promotion, or a request to fix a pay error.
Pay process
The process from the hiring of an employee and entering the employee’s pay data into the human resource system up to and including issuance of payment and recording the employee’s pay expense in the financial statements.
Public Accounts of Canada
The government’s annual report that includes the audited consolidated financial statements of the Government of Canada and other unaudited financial information, such as the financial statements discussion and analysis and supporting tables, contained in three volumes.

S

Statutory spending
Expenditures authorized under specific legislation. As they are already approved by statute, they do not require further approval. Over 60% of government spending is statutory.
Supplementary Estimates
The documents that identify the spending authorities (votes) and amounts and adjustments not included in the Main Estimates. Parliamentary approval is required to enable the government to proceed with its spending plans.

T

Transparency
A value that ensures information is provided to the public and interested parties in a timely manner that facilitates public scrutiny.

U

Unfunded pension liabilities
Liabilities of the government to pay for pension benefits for which there is no separate fund allocated.
Unmodified audit opinion
An opinion expressed by an auditor when the auditor concludes that the financial statements gave a fair presentation of the underlying transactions and events according to accounting requirements.

V

Voted spending
Expenditures voted by Parliament annually for a federal department or agency in a particular expenditure category, such as operations, capital, or grants.