Internal auditor concept explored
St. Albert council schooled by Edmonton auditor
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 06:00 am
The debate over the installation of a municipal internal auditor looks set to be coming back to City of St. Albert council chambers in the near future.
Coun. Cam MacKay, who has been championing the idea of hiring an internal auditor to look for efficiencies and accountability in city departments, recently set up a meeting between the City of Edmonton’s internal auditors and St. Albert council.
He plans to book a second session so council members who couldn’t attend the last one can do so.
“I’m booking one more meeting and then they can ask whatever technical questions they want of someone who’s in that field,” MacKay said on Tuesday.
The City of Edmonton’s auditing staff gave about two hours of their time for a presentation and question and answer session with St. Albert representatives.
The issue has been contentious in St. Albert as there’s been disagreement over whether or not the Municipal Government Act even allows for an internal auditor to be hired.
MacKay has maintained it does. In February, a representative from Municipal Affairs told the Gazette the rules in the MGA around auditors are to ensure the financial statements are checked externally, and that a municipality would be allowed to hire an internal auditor for risk management, value for money or governance matters.
MacKay said the City of Edmonton staff agreed.
External auditors have their purpose, but “they don’t look for any internal efficiencies or accountability within each system,” MacKay said, calling an internal auditor “a totally different animal.”
“Trying to find efficiencies is not against the law,” he said.
MacKay provided a copy of the presentation they were given, which notes the annual work plan for the office of Edmonton’s city auditor includes value-for-money audits, investigations, proactive projects, follow-up reviews and other activities and issue.
They get unrestricted access to all information required during a project, and also manage the city’s fraud and misconduct hotline.
“There’s a lot you can take out of it. For me, it was just one comment that they made. They said that in the City of Edmonton, they’re the eyes and ears of council,” MacKay said.
That comment rung true for MacKay because the auditors can get access to areas councillors can’t.
“They’re able to bring it forward and then you can address them,” MacKay said.
MacKay does have plans to bring forward a motion to St. Albert city council about getting an internal auditor, though he’s still trying to determine what that motion might look like.
“There’s so many ways you could do it,” he said. “I’m not sure what the best model is for us right now, and I’m hoping to figure it out and go forward.”
MacKay thinks having an auditor is important to offer internal controls.
“I don’t think there’s much not to like, we get improved transparency, accountability and you get to find some efficiencies in your city,” he said.