Opening Statement to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Audited Departmental Financial Statements

21 October 2010

John Wiersema
Deputy Auditor General

Mr. Chair, I am pleased to be here and would like to thank you for this opportunity to discuss departmental financial statements.

In 2004, the government committed to having departmental financial statements audited, as one way to strengthen public sector management and controllership. In support of improving internal controls and providing credible financial information, our Office took the position that, when departments were ready for control-based audits of their financial statements, we would be pleased to undertake them. We conducted a first audit of Justice Canada’s 2009 financial statements and issued an unqualified opinion.

Other departments, such as Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage, have indicated their readiness for control-based audits, but many of the largest departments remain years away from that objective. The government’s intention to have departmental financial statements audited was never formalized in policy.

Earlier this year, we communicated our decision to discontinue audits of departmental financial statements to the Comptroller General. Along with the challenges in funding the cost of the audits, we also considered the delays in the readiness of the largest government departments to have their financial statements audited, as well as the lack of a formal government policy on auditing departmental financial statements.

We remain strongly in support of the initiative to strengthen financial management and controls in government. Should the government decide that audits of departmental level financial statements are a priority, we will reconsider our position.

Mr. Chair, this concludes my opening remarks. I would be pleased to answer your questions. Thank you.