OAG: Sustainable Development Strategy for the Office of the Auditor General of Canada-2017-2020

by pmnationtalk on February 7, 201816 Views

Contribution to sustainable development

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada’s main contribution to sustainable development is its ability to influence the actions of federal and territorial departments, agencies, and Crown corporations through its audit work and recommendations for improvement.

On behalf of the Auditor General of Canada, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development is responsible for auditing the federal government’s implementation of sustainable development strategies and the federal government’s management of environmental and sustainable development issues. Through this oversight, the Office provides assurance to Parliament that the federal government demonstrates “whole-of-government” thinking and pays attention to sustainable development issues.

Contribution to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 sustainable development goals

The Office is committed to aligning its audit work with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the underlying 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) by

  • supporting the link to a portable document format (PDF) filefour approaches to the United Nations 2030 Agenda defined by the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI), of which Canada is a member, and by leading Approach 1. The four INTOSAI approaches were set out in link to a portable document format (PDF) fileThe Abu Dhabi Declaration and are reflected in the link to a portable document format (PDF) fileINTOSAI Strategic Plan 2017–2022;
  • considering the 17 SDGs when planning audits;
  • providing guidance to audit teams on identifying and assessing sustainable development risks and integrating them into performance audit and special examination work;
  • supporting the federal government in maintaining sound financial management systems;
  • continuing its commitment to transparency and accountability within its working environment; and
  • setting achievable targets for the consideration of the 17 SDGs in all direct engagements (for example, performance audits and special examinations).

All of the Office’s special examination reports and the four annual financial audits of Canada’s federal and territorial governments are focused on SDG 16 (which relates to peace, justice and strong institutions). By 2020, the Office expects that more than half of its performance audit work will consider matters that are addressed in at least one of the United Nations 17 SDGs. In years 2 and 3 of this strategy, after fully incorporating the consideration of the 17 SDGs in its audit planning process, the Office will set more specific milestones for its direct engagements.

Current efforts and future targets that support the four approaches of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions

The International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions established four approaches to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Office of the Auditor General of Canada supports INTOSAI’s four approaches in its current work and has established targets for future work as well as responsibilities.

Support for Approach 1: “Assessing the preparedness of national governments to implement, monitor and report on progress of the SDGs, and subsequently audit their operation and the reliability of the data they produce.”

Current efforts

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada currently supports Approach 1 as follows:

  • In 2017, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development agreed to be the lead for INTOSAI for this approach.
  • Every year, the Commissioner monitors and reports on how well selected federal departments and agencies have contributed to meeting the targets and goals set out in the Government of Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. The federal government’s 2016–2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy outlines federal leadership on climate change and on the SDGs.
  • The Commissioner also monitors and reports on whether these selected departments have met the objectives and implemented the plans set out in their departmental sustainable development strategies.
  • The Commissioner also plays an active role in the Working Group on Environmental Auditing, which is part of INTOSAI, by helping to produce guidelines and reports and to develop and implement training for environmental auditors.

Future target

The Office has established the following target for future work:

  • In spring 2018, the Office will submit an audit report on the Government of Canada’s preparedness to implement, monitor, and report on the sustainable development goals.

Lead responsibility

Within the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development is responsible for supporting INTOSAI’s Approach 1.

Support for Approach 2: “Undertaking performance audits that examine the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of key government programmes that contribute to specific aspects of the SDGs.”

Current efforts

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada currently supports Approach 2 as follows:

  • As part of the Office’s strategic planning process, audit teams must submit audit report proposals to the Office’s Performance Audit Practice Management Committee. In these proposals, audit teams are required to identify the relevant SDGs and associated targets that they plan to consider during the audit.
  • The Office developed The Environment and Sustainable Development Guide to assist auditors in identifying and assessing environmental and sustainable development risks that could be associated with the programs and activities they audit. This guide, which is available to the public, was updated in 2017 to reflect the Office’s commitment to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and to incorporate the underlying 17 SDGs into the direct engagements.
  • Audit teams are also required to consult an internal specialist responsible for Environment and Sustainable Development. Any identified risks are subsequently assessed, documented, and used in audit scoping decisions.

Future targets

The Office has established the following targets for future work:

  • In fall 2017 and in spring 2018, all performance audit reports submitted to Parliament by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development consider matters addressed by SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, SDG 13 on climate action, and SDG 14 on life below water.
  • In 2017, all performance audits submitted to a Legislative Assembly in Canada’s North consider matters addressed by SDG 13 on climate action.
  • By fall 2018, all performance audits and special examinations submitted to Parliament will have considered matters addressed by the 17 SDGs.
  • By fall 2018, all performance audit reports and special examinations will clearly identify which SDGs have been considered in the audits through the use of the Agenda 2030 SDG logos (Appendix A).

Lead responsibility

Within the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, the Assistant Auditor Generals and engagement leaders for performance audits and for special examinations, as well as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development are responsible for supporting INTOSAI’s Approach 2.

Support for Approach 3: “Assessing and supporting the implementation of SDG 16 which relates in part to effective, accountable and transparent institutions.”

Current efforts

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada currently supports the federal and territorial governments in maintaining sound financial management systems by auditing the following:

  • the federal government’s summary financial statements, the results of which are published annually in the Public Accounts of Canada;
  • the summary financial statements of the governments of Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories; and
  • the financial statements of most Crown corporations and many federal organizations.

The Office’s financial audits determine if the annual financial statements of Crown corporations; the federal, and territorial governments; and other organizations are presented fairly and if these entities are complying with their legislative authorities.

Financial audits represent about half of the Office’s work. The Office conducts more than 95 financial audits each year.

The Office conducts special examinations of Crown corporations to assess whether their assets are safeguarded, their resources are managed economically and efficiently, and their operations are carried out effectively.

Future targets

The Office has established the following targets for future work:

  • The audit reports of the federal and territorial public accounts, special examination reports, and the annual audit summary report from 2017 to 2020 will support the implementation of SDG 16.
  • The performance audits and special examinations with strong financial controls or with a focus on law and order will support the implementation of SDG 16.

Lead responsibility

Within the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, the Annual Audit Oversight Committee and audit teams are responsible for supporting INTOSAI’s Approach 3.

Support for Approach 4: “Being models of transparency and accountability in their own operations, including auditing and reporting.”

Current efforts

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada currently supports Approach 4 as follows:

  • To demonstrate its commitment to transparency and accountability within its working environment, the office receives advice from independent advisorsthrough several committees with external members.
  • The Office also conducts practice reviews to provide assurance to the Auditor General that practitioners have complied with Office policies and professional standards while conducting their audits and that the reports that were issued were supported by appropriate evidence in the audit files.
  • The Office’s internal audits focus on the internal management and administration of the Office and provide the Auditor General with assurance about the extent to which key risk areas within the Office are being adequately managed.
  • The Office periodically requests quality assurance reviews from external organizations, such as international peer reviews.
  • Finally, the Office also proactively discloses details of its operations, including travel and hospitality spending, standing offers, contracts over $10,000; advertising expenses, grants and contributions over $25,000, and employment equity reports.

Future targets

The Office has established the following targets for future work:

  • Twice a year, the Auditor General will seek advice from the Office’s External Audit Committee, the Panel of Senior Advisors, the Advisors on Aboriginal Issues and the Independent Accounting and Financial Auditing Committee.
  • Twice a year, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development will seek advice from the Panel of Environmental Advisors.
  • The Office plans to perform up to six practice reviews of financial audit leaders and up to six reviews of performance audit leaders each year.
  • The Office plans to conduct three internal audits in the 2017–18 fiscal year.
  • The Office has requested a quality assurance review from an international peer to be completed in 2019.
  • Each year, the Office will proactively disclose details of its operations, including travel and hospitality spending, standing offers, contracts over $10,000; advertising expenses, grants and contributions over $25,000, and employment equity reports.

Lead responsibility

Within the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, the following roles and teams are responsible for supporting INTOSAI’s Approach 4: the Auditor General, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Corporate Services team, and the Practice Review and Internal Audit team.

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