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8090 Preparation for Tabling of Direct Engagement Reports
Ensuring that reports are communicated clearly and accurately through the media is key to fulfilling the OAG’s mandate. The OAG delivers its messages in several ways:
- the audit report itself;
- the At a Glance, including the related tweet;
- the Auditor General’s statement to the House of Commons and to the media on tabling day; and
- the responses of the audit team to media questions on tabling day.
CSAE 3001 Requirements
There are no directly applicable CSAE 3001 requirements and no related application material.
All information released to Parliament, the public, and the media shall be approved in advance by the Auditor General. The Auditor General may delegate this authority to the head of Corporate Communications and/or Parliamentary Liaison. [Nov-2013]
All external communications (reports, Audit at a Glance, tweets, opening statements to the media, web content and correspondence) shall be reviewed, edited, and translated by the Communications Group. [Nov-2014]
When reports are well communicated, the OAG’s messages are understood, which yields several results:
The audited organizations accept the OAG’s findings and implement its recommendations.
Parliamentary committees (OAG Audit 9070 Parliamentary committee hearings for direct engagements) engage in hearings or briefings on the issues reported and endorse the recommendations.
Members of the media report findings accurately.
Parliamentarians and other stakeholders continue to support the OAG’s work.
If reports are ignored or messages are misunderstood, audit resources could be wasted and the OAG’s credibility could be called into question.
At a Glance
The content of At a Glance is developed as part of the drafting of the report, which is done by the audit team working with Editorial Services. Communications provides guidance and advice on the storyline of the overall report and the messaging portions, which are those pieces that appear in At a Glance (overall message, headings, etc.).
Report Communications is responsible for pulling together the pieces of At a Glance to submit to Web Services for conversion to HTML and posting to the website.
As a courtesy, a limited number of officials from entities mentioned in the At a Glance are invited to see the news release, the excerpt of the opening statement, and the tweet that pertain to their entity, but they do not see At a Glance. This preview may take place in person at the OAG premises or virtually. The officials are instructed to keep the contents confidential until after report tabling.
Pre-tabling briefing with the Auditor General (or the Commissioner)
After sending the transmission (DM) draft to the entity, the audit team attends a pre-tabling briefing with the Auditor General (or the Commissioner). Potential documents or points the team may use to guide their discussion with the Auditor General are
current events that may have an impact on the issues raised in the report (e.g., press coverage, announcement made by Ministers, pressure from lobby groups);
sensitivities (e.g., confidentiality issues, negative reaction of the entity to our findings, federal–provincial issues, external reports that contradict our positions);
issues related to departmental responses to the recommendations, if any;
review of the tweet and Opening Statement;
any other items that the audit team wishes to bring to the Auditor General’s attention.
The assistant auditor general, engagement leader, lead director for the audit, and representatives from Parliamentary Liaison, Communications, Legal Services, and others as necessary attend a pre-tabling briefing meeting with the Auditor General to discuss the items presented on the agenda, the tweet, and the Auditor General’s comments for the opening statement to the media. The Parliamentary Liaison Group is responsible for scheduling the meeting several weeks before tabling. Additional topics that may be discussed at the briefing include anticipated main lines of questioning from parliamentarians and the media, and the Auditor General’s (or the Commissioner’s) responses to questions.
In addition, the Auditor General’s assistant schedules briefing sessions for the Auditor General (or the Commissioner) with relevant ministers, the President and the Secretary of the Treasury Board, the Clerk of the Privy Council, and the government leaders in the Senate. Briefing sessions may also be offered to ministers of entities not included in the report.
The opening statement to the media is finalized before tabling, and is also shared on tabling day with parliamentarians.
The following is the sequence of events on tabling day:
MP preview—The Auditor General (or the Commissioner) and engagement leaders with audit reports attend a preview for parliamentarians on Parliament Hill, and an in-camera briefing for parliamentarians is held to discuss the report.
Media lock-up—The media are given preliminary access to the report, but agree not to divulge its contents to anyone outside the “media lock-up room,” and must stay in the room until the report is tabled in the House of Commons. Representatives from each audit team (usually the lead director) respond to questions from journalists. Those involved should attend media training provided by the Communications Group before tabling day.
News conference—The Auditor General (or the Commissioner) holds an in-camera news conference within the media lock-up.
Tabling—The Speaker of the House tables the report in the House of Commons.
Question Period—The Auditor General (or the Commissioner), the audit assistant auditors general, and the head of the Communications Group attend Question Period on Parliament Hill.
A designated audit team member monitors the media for commentary on the audit and reports significant errors to Communications. The Parliamentary Liaison Group monitors question period in Parliament for reference to the report and notifies the engagement leaders.
During the week of tabling, the Auditor General (or the Commissioner) is the main spokesperson for the OAG’s performance audit reports, unless another individual (for example, the assistant auditor general or the engagement leader) has been delegated by the Auditor General or the Communications Group. The engagement leader is usually the main spokesperson for territorial reports, at the request of the Communications Group.
After tabling, media representatives’ requests for interviews with OAG staff must go through the Communications Group. The group responds to journalists on behalf of the OAG, arranges media interviews, and provides advice or coaching to OAG representatives selected to speak to the media.
Following tabling, the audit team retrieves (when applicable) all hard copy controlled documents (OAG Audit 9020 Management of controlled documents) and finalizes the audit file (OAG Audit 1171 Assembly of the final audit file). Besides the Public Accounts Committee, other parliamentary committees may hold hearings on the audit topics reported (OAG Audit 9070 Parliamentary committee hearings for direct engagements). In the future, the OAG may monitor entities’ progress in implementing audit recommendations as part of its Knowledge of Business work (OAG audit 1505 Acquiring and maintaining knowledge of business for performance audits) or follow-up audit work.