December 4, 2019
Requesting an action plan from audited organizations is one of the easiest things a public accounts committee (PAC) can do to improve how it tracks a department’s implementation of the auditor general’s recommendations. It has no direct financial cost for PACs, and the time invested is well worth the pay off – yet, many jurisdictions do not regularly request them.
What are action plans?
Action plans outline how, by whom, and by when actions will be taken to address an audit report’s recommendations. Requests for action plans are sent to the head of audited organizations, who are responsible for completing them by laying out step-by-step what they will do to address recommendations from the auditor general.
How can action plans make it easier for PACs to play their role?
Action plans provide valuable insight into departmental plans and progress and give PACs information they need to follow up with audited organizations and to hold them accountable.
Action plans bring PACs up to date on departmental actions, allowing for more time during hearings to probe deeper into the most important issues.
When should action plans be requested?
PACs should request an action plan for every audit. This can be done as soon as an audit report is released or in advance of a scheduled public meeting.
Requesting an action plan as soon as an audit report is released gives a PAC the opportunity to study the plan to determine if it is necessary to hold a public meeting with the department. Requesting action plans at this stage may also help the committee determine the most appropriate timing for a hearing.
Receiving an action plan in advance of a scheduled public meeting gives the committee an update on the implementation of the audit recommendations and can help focus the meeting.
Some PACs that request action plans directly after an audit is released also request an additional status update in advance of a hearing to ensure they are up to date on implementation.
Without follow-up there is no accountability
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