City one of the first targets in auditor general’s sights

Focus on larger investments such as major infrastructure, reconstruction, buildings, roads and facilities

The Comox Valley Regional District, Campbell River and Port Alberni will be included in the first performance audits conducted by Basia Ruta, B.C.’s new auditor general for local government.

As opposed to finances, the audits will focus on the efficiency of programs and projects.

The first three topics relate to cost containment. The audit involving the CVRD and five other B.C. jurisdictions is dubbed, Achieving Value for Money in Operational Procurement — which involves day-to-day operations, contracts and services such as garbage collection.

“We’re not investing in infrastructure,” Ruta said in an interview. “What are we contracting out?”

Her office wants to get a sense of amounts being spent in terms of operational procurement, and where these dollars are going. “To what purpose? And then getting into more operational process and monitoring the results.”

Port Alberni’s audit is local government performance in managing policing agreements and police budget oversight.

“We’re looking at the levers that local governments have in order to manage the budget that they have for policing,” Ruta said.

Campbell River’s audit — Learnings from Local Government Capital Procurement Projects and Asset Management Programs — concerns larger investments such as major infrastructure, reconstruction, buildings, roads and facilities.

“We’re looking here at the process, the kind of planning that went into identifying the needs, and then looking at how you manage your assets on a long-term basis to see how local governments ensure sustainability of the assets they invest in,” Ruta said.

There will be one individual report per local government. The first three audits will be completed by the end of March 2014. The fourth and fifth topics — Local Governments’ Role in Ensuring Clean Drinking Water and Managing the Inherent Risks of Limited Human Resources within Small Local governments — relate to the management of key risks to local governments. These are expected to be reported by Aug. 31, 2014.  The new AGLG was appointed by Order-in-Council in November.

Along with providing recommendations for improvement, Ruta will confirm where local governments are already providing value for tax dollars.

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