FREDERICTON (GNB) – Auditor general Paul Martin tabled his latest report today at the legislative assembly, including a report on out-of-province and international travel in select school districts.

Martin emphasized in the report that his audit was “not intended to imply judgment as to whether travel should or should not have occurred, but to evaluate compliance with policy.”

Based on risk analysis, Martin’s office selected the Anglophone West, Anglophone North and Francophone sud school districts for its audit.

The audit’s focus was ensuring travel was appropriately approved and demonstrated value to government. The audit found instances of district staff not having documented approval to travel, including a lack of appropriate signatures and cost estimates. There were often no documented anticipated or actual benefits to government, and the auditor general was unable to determine if virtual attendance had been considered as a more cost-effective alternative, when available.

Martin reported that international travel included trips to Dubai, Australia, France and California, with as many as 17 district staff attending one conference. The audit found no documentation to ensure that budget pressures had been considered as part of the travel approval decision process.

The auditor general noted difficulties finding financial performance information on district websites and recommended improvements to transparency.

Recommendations were made to the applicable districts. The report is available online.