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June 27, 2019
CAAF Launches Municipal Oversight Workshops in Halifax

Municipal Oversight Workshops in HalifaxAt the end of May, the Foundation launched the first in a series of pilot workshops that will support the development of our new municipal oversight program.

Members of the Standing Committee on Audit and Finance of the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) attended the first workshop: Improving service delivery to citizens: maximizing effective oversight of audits. The councillors, along with the newly minted citizen members of the Audit committee — Bill Rafuse and Brenda Cowell— explored our good practices for effective oversight. These practices will be included in an upcoming CAAF publication, Good Practices for Municipal Oversight, which we expect to release early in 2020.

Municipal oversight committees have little information or guidance available to them on how to support the implementation of audit recommendations. To address this information deficiency, our program will provide relevant, tailored, and accessible guidance, tools, and training materials for Canadian municipal elected officials and members of audit committees. This material is designed to support them in exercising effective oversight of audits. This is being done with input from our Advisory Group. This group includes auditors general, city auditors, elected officials, academics, and strategic partners, including Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA) and the Institute for Internal Audit (IIA).

The timing of the workshop in Halifax was fortuitous. Very early in its mandate, members of the Standing Committee envisaged a training course to effectively acquaint them with the purpose, responsibilities, and activities of the committee. Evangeline Colman-Sadd, the Auditor General for the Halifax Regional Municipality, knew just what to do. Both as a CAAF board member, and contributor to the nascent municipal program, she was the impetus for the workshop.
Committee members were given a preview of the Foundation’s good practices for municipal audit committees. They had the opportunity to reflect on how their committee had been operating and saw the benefit of a more effective follow-up procedure to ensure recommendations from reports of the Auditor General are implemented in a timely manner.

The Standing Committee is dedicated to the oversight of public money and ensuring that Haligonians receive the best value-for-money. The Foundations emphasized the importance of audits: Audits can determine whether resources are being allocated in the way the council intended and identify instances where this expectation was not met. Audits can also highlight areas where administrative changes could increase efficiency. By using audit findings, elected officials can contribute to improved program administration.

We were glad to share good practices with the committee members in Halifax during this pilot workshop. “This workshop marks a pivotal moment for our municipal members and municipal audit committees. The HRM will become a leader among municipalities when it starts requesting action plans for each of the Auditor General’s reports; we look forward to highlighting this good practice in an upcoming edition of Featured Oversight Practices” said John Reed, CAAF’s President and CEO.

We look forward to continuing to support the members of the Standing Committee—and other municipal oversight committees across Canada—in their endeavors.