Opening Statement to the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

7 October 2010

Sheila Fraser, FCA
Auditor General of Canada

Mr. Chair, Honourable Senators, we thank you for inviting us today to discuss the request that we made to audit the administration of the Senate. As you mentioned, I’m accompanied by Clyde MacLellan, Assistant Auditor General, and Gordon Stock, Principal.

In our performance audits, we examine and provide independent assessments of management practices, controls, and reporting systems. When necessary, we make recommendations to further strengthen management’s practices and procedures.

The objective of our audit of the administration of the Senate would be to assure the Committee and all Senators that appropriate policies and procedures exist for administrative services and that these services are provided in an efficient manner and in accordance with those policies.

When I refer to the administration of the Senate, this includes functions that the Clerk and the Clerk’s management team are responsible for, such as providing support to the Senate, its committees, and the Senators’ offices.

I would like to emphasize that my audit would not include the Senate’s constitutional, legislative, or public policy roles, nor would it include any procedural aspects of the Senate and its committees.

We would conduct this audit as we conduct all of our performance audits, in accordance with professional standards, and in three phases—planning, examination, and reporting.

The initial or planning phase of our audit would focus on ensuring that we understand the authority framework under which the Senate is administered and the management practices that are in place. This knowledge and understanding would allow us to determine which areas to include in the examination phase of the audit.

In general, we would select the most significant or important processes in place that support the Senate in achieving its objectives. The following areas could be included in an audit:

  • Human Resources,
  • Information Technology,
  • Security, and
  • Financial Management and Control

Financial Management and Control would include an examination of the practices established for the expenses and administrative costs of Senators and their offices.

The proposed audit plan would be discussed with the Clerk at the end of the planning phase of the audit. During the examination phase of the performance audit, the audit team would gather the evidence to form our conclusions.

During the reporting phase, we would confirm and validate the facts in a draft report with the Clerk. The results of our work would be a report planned for presentation to the Senate in late fall 2011.

Throughout the audit, we would communicate regularly with the Clerk, and we would be happy to provide the Committee with updates on our progress.

Mr. Chair, I would like to assure Senators that our report would be addressed to the Senate only, that it would be conducted independently from that of the House of Commons with a separate audit team. As well, all work would be conducted in the Offices of the Senate and all records would remain there. And, to the extent possible, we would rely on previous audit work, for example, internal audits or the financial audit work that was done and obviously we would not repeat any work that we thought had already been done.

Mr. Chair, we would be honoured to carry out an audit of the administration of the Senate, with the intended objective and direction that I have described. I will now be pleased to answer any questions you may have.