FREDERICTON (GNB) – The auditor general’s latest report tabled today in the legislative assembly highlights the importance of government oversight of Crown agencies in ensuring government priorities and objectives, along with the associated programs and services, are carried out as intended.

The Accountability and Continuous Improvement Act outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Council Office and Crown agencies in the oversight process. The auditor general’s office found the Executive Council Office and most Crown agencies do not always fully comply with the act when preparing critical documents needed for oversight. Critical documents include mandate letters, annual plans and annual reports which are needed for effective government oversight and accountability.

“In my view, there are two notable oversight risks regarding non-compliance with the act,” said acting auditor general Janice Leahy. “Firstly, the government and the public may not be fully informed if Crown agencies are meeting their mandated priorities and objectives when there are weaknesses in complying with the act. Secondly, the best interests of New Brunswickers may not be served if essential government programs and services are not being carried out as intended.”

The audit did find some areas where the Executive Council Office and Crown agencies complied with the act in preparing, addressing and including certain items within the critical documents, however there were a number of areas where they did not. These areas of non-compliance included documents not issued, late submissions and missing information within the critical documents.

“We found no one is monitoring if Crown agency plans and reports comply with the requirements of the act,” said Leahy.

The act does not address monitoring annual plans and annual reports for compliance with the act.

“A concerning theme throughout all report chapters released today was a lack of government oversight, transparency and accountability leading to ongoing unaddressed risks,” said Leahy. “Oversight and accountability are essential for citizens to have confidence in how government delivers programs and services, and to ensure those programs and services are delivered effectively and efficiently.”

In total, the acting auditor general made five recommendations to the Executive Council Office to help improve government’s oversight of Crown agencies and address areas of non-compliance.

The full report is available online.