Annual Audit Committee Report to the Clerk of the Privy Council 2014-2015

Memorandum to the Clerk

My colleagues and I are pleased to present you this Annual Report of the Privy Council Office Audit Committee.

Further, we would like to congratulate you on your appointment as Clerk and to thank you for your always thoughtful insight and wise counsel throughout your five years as a Member of the Committee. We are also pleased that Michael Wernick joined us on your departure last Fall.

The Committee would like to acknowledge the highly professional assistance of all PCO personnel including the Chief Audit Executive, Jim Hamer, and his fine team and the Chief Financial Officer, Michelle Doucet.

We would like to recognize and thank Lorraine Milobar [ * ] providing outstanding support to the Committee since its inception six years ago. We also want to welcome Chantal Bechervaise, who has replaced Lorraine as the Audit and Evaluation Division Administrative and Research Officer.

During 2014-2015, Audit Committee’s sixth year of operation, the Committee held four meetings, including one on 2 April, 2015, which had originally been scheduled a few weeks earlier. As you will see in the Report, the Committee is pleased to note continued progress in all areas of our mandate.

Solid progress was achieved in the three priority areas established for 2014-2015. A detailed assessment of each priority is included in the Issues and Observations Section of the Report.

Looking ahead to 2015-2016, the Committee will remain focused on its core responsibilities and recommends the following specific priorities:

  1. Maintain the emphasis on the production of highly focused assurance and other products in areas of highest risk;
  2. Maintain the Committee’s focus on the management of security risks; and,
  3. Continue to assist PCO in strengthening its approach to risk management.

The Committee looks forward to discussing this report with you.

Yours sincerely,


Larry Murray
Chair, PCO Audit Committee

Introduction

This sixth Annual Report of the Privy Council Office (PCO) Audit Committee (AC) covers the period from 1 April 2014 to 2 April, 2015 and is forwarded in accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Internal Audit.

In addition to the overview provided in the opening Issues and Observations section, the Report includes a brief summary of activities, followed by the Committee’s assessment in the key areas of its responsibility.

This will be followed by the Committee Self-Assessment and Future Plans and Priorities.

Annexes outlining the membership and operations of the Committee as well as an AC Annual Plan for 2015-2016 and more detailed Self-Assessment are also included.

Issues and Observations: Progress on Priorities

The PCO AC met with the former Clerk, Wayne Wouters, on 20 June, 2014 to discuss the Committee’s Draft Annual Report and finalize priorities for 2014-2015. Progress is discussed below.

Priority 1) Ensure emphasis is placed on the delivery of highly focused audits and action plans in areas of highest risk.

The Committee encouraged and was pleased with the improvement in the approach to producing the critical Risk-Based Audit Plan (RBAP) and with the broader range and types of proposed projects. The expanded consultation process with Deputy Secretaries has been valuable in helping the Chief Audit Executive (CAE) and the Committee to develop a better understanding of the risks and challenges in PCO. The CAE has joined the Corporate Management Advisory Committee as an observer, which should further help ensure the development of RBAPs focused on areas of higher risk. 

The production of assurance products this year also improved. The Audit of Accounting Officer Responsibilities, including Risk Management, the Follow-up Audit of Business Continuity Management, and the Audit of Contracting were all approved by the Clerk. The Follow-up Review of the Implementation of Management Action Plans (MAPs) and the Fraud Risk Assessment have been tabled and accepted by AC. The Draft Report on the Audit of Information Technology Management has been accepted by AC but the acceptance of the MAP was delayed to allow the new Chief Information Officer to participate in the finalization of the action plan.

The MAPs for the Audit of Accounting Officer Responsibilities, including Risk Management and for the Audit of Occupational Health and Safety have been completed. In addition, the issues raised in last year’s third-party Practice Inspection have been fully addressed.    

The Committee is satisfied with the progress achieved in this priority area over the past year. However, continued emphasis in the coming year will be important to ensure the focus on the delivery of quality products in areas of high risk is sustained.

Priority 2) Continue to assist the department in developing and strengthening its approach to risk management.

The Committee believes that PCO is continuing to strengthen its approach to risk management. This view is based on audit reports and the resulting action plans; the Follow-up Review of the Implementation of MAPs; the Fraud Risk Assessment; the Committee’s review of Financial Statements and Public Accounts Reporting documents; discussions with a variety of  PCO staff throughout the year; and ongoing efforts to improve risk information used in the Integrated Business Planning Process.

The AC also inquired about alignment between risks presented in the Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) and those included in the Risk Profile.  In response, the Committee was provided with a crosswalk of all relevant PCO Corporate Reporting documents.  The committee is satisfied that these documents are sufficiently aligned. It was noted that differences in the security classification of these documents do dictate some differences in the nature and detail of the information presented.

The Committee will continue to assist PCO in strengthening its approach to risk management. 

Priority 3) Maintain the Committee’s focus on the management of security risks.

The Committee continued to place a high priority on security issues.

The Follow-up Audit of Business Continuity Management was discussed with the Committee during the September meeting and a number of changes to assist in finalizing the Report and its MAP were agreed upon. The revised document was reviewed and discussed during the December meeting and was recommended to the Clerk for formal approval.

The Committee discussed the Audit of Information Technology (IT) Management during its September meeting and certain changes pertaining to IT Security were agreed. The draft Audit Report was subsequently accepted by AC during its December meeting with work continuing to finalize the MAP.

The Committee also continued to closely monitor the completion of the remaining two recommendations of the Audit of Physical and Personnel Security action plan which were delayed owing to changes in some key PCO security personnel. One was completed and one remains a work in progress.

Physical security and IT security remain areas of particular concern for the Committee. Much work remains to be done and the Committee intends to maintain its focus on the management of security risks in the coming year.

Audit Committee’s Key Areas of Responsibility

During 2014-2015, the AC scheduled four meetings to fulfill its oversight requirements in the PCO AC Charter and the Annual Plan. This section summarizes the key activities undertaken by the Committee to meet its core responsibilities and its assessment in the following eight areas:

  • Management Control Framework
  • Governance
  • Risk Management 
  • Values and Ethics 
  • Internal Audit Function
  • Follow-Up on Management Action Plans
  • Liaison with External Assurance Providers
  • Financial Statements, Public Accounts Reporting and Accountability Reporting

Audit Committee’s 2014-2015 Activities and Assessments

1- Management Control Framework

The Committee assesses that the PCO Management Control Framework remains solid and effective. Internal controls have been improved this year as a result of the completion of the action plan for the Audit of Accounting Responsibilities, including Risk Management.

In addition to the progress related to internal controls noted above, the AC assessment has been informed by the results of the Audit of Contracting, the Follow-up Review of the Implementation of MAPs, the Fraud Risk Assessment and a PCO Self-Assessment against a recent Horizontal Audit of Financial Forecasting in Large and Small Departments conducted by the Office of the Comptroller General. It has also been reinforced by the Committee’s ongoing review of financial statements and Public Accountability documents and numerous briefings and discussions with PCO staff and senior management including one which had a particular focus on the improved three year monitoring plan for internal financial controls. In addition, every meeting of the AC normally includes an in-camera session with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and separately, with the CAE.

The comprehensive PCO Management Control Framework document, which was initially promulgated in December, 2011, is currently being updated as a result of changes in Treasury Board policy and the implementation of the MAP for the Audit of Accounting Officer Responsibilities, including Risk Management. The Committee looks forward to reviewing the revised Management Control Framework soon.

The PCO Management Control Framework will also benefit from completion of the ongoing Audit of Internal Controls Over Financial Reporting.

2- Governance

The Committee’s activities of the past year have brought it in contact with a broad cross-section of PCO staff ranging from Deputy Secretaries to relatively junior personnel discussing a diverse range of subjects including initiatives such as business renewal, “Destination 2020”, the results of the Public Service Employee Survey and many others, in addition to the core mandate of the AC. This extensive dialogue, coupled with the actual results achieved in completed and ongoing assurance and review work, provides the Committee with considerable confidence that the Governance structure at PCO remains healthy, robust and fully engaged.

During the past year, Governance improved in various areas in PCO with completion of the Follow-up Audit of Business Continuity Management; the Audit of IT Management; implementation of the MAP of the Audit of Occupational Health and Safety; implementation of the MAP of the Audit of Accounting Officer Responsibilities Including Risk Management; and the completion of one of two remaining recommendations contained in the MAP of the Audit of Physical and Personnel Security.

The Committee expects that further improvements in Governance will result from the Audit of Internal Controls Over Financial Reporting and the remaining work on the MAPs of the Audit of Physical and Personnel Security, the Follow-up Audit of Business Continuity Management, and the Audit of IT Management.

3- Risk Management

One of the Committee’s priorities of the past year was to continue to assist the department in developing and strengthening its approach to risk management. For the reasons indicated in the Issues and Observations section above, the Committee is encouraged that PCO is continuing to strengthen its approach to risk management.

The Risk Profile was the subject of a detailed discussion during two AC meetings. The Risk Profile development process has been improved by integrating the collection of risk information into the overall data gathering exercise for the Integrated Business Planning Process. In addition to gathering more detailed risk information, this change also expands the range of consultation on potential risks to include all branches and secretariats. 

The Committee also reviewed a Fraud Risk Assessment prepared by the Audit and Evaluation Division. The results indicated that PCO has a good framework of internal controls and that the residual risk of a material fraud is low.

The Committee looks forward to reviewing and commenting on the new PCO Enterprise Risk Profile during its next meeting.

4- Values and Ethics

During the September 2014 AC meeting, the new PCO Champion for Values and Ethics briefed the Committee on progress over the past year and his plans to continue the Program’s momentum.

The Values and Ethics program at PCO has a comprehensive plan to ensure awareness, understanding and adherence to the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, the Policy on Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment, the Policy on Harassment Prevention and Resolution and other related directives aimed at helping to foster a respectful workplace.  

During the 2 April, 2015 meeting the Committee was briefed on the PCO and Public Service wide results of the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES). The Committee was pleased to note the high participation rate within PCO and the positive results in many key areas. Following more detailed analysis of the results, the Values and Ethics program will be updated to address issues raised in the 2014 Employee Survey. The Committee looks forward to reviewing the intended response and intends to meet the PCO Senior Disclosure Officer in the coming year.

In addition to discussing the Values and Ethics program with the Champion, the Committee has had considerable contact with a wide range of PCO staff at all levels in the organization. Notwithstanding workload and budgetary pressures during the past few years, the Committee has been consistently impressed by the obvious pride, positive attitude and professional commitment of the entire staff.

The Committee assesses that the Values and Ethics program at PCO continues to be highly effective, primarily because it is real to employees and the leadership “walks the talk”. The response by PCO management to the results of the 2014 Employee Survey will be very important to maintaining the credibility of this important program in the coming year.

5- Internal Audit Function

The Committee is satisfied with the improvements made within the internal audit function over this past year.  Most significantly, the RBAP consultation process was strengthened and the production of more tightly-scoped audits improved.  As well, other products, including the Fraud Risk Assessment and a Review of Management Action Plans, were delivered.

The MAP for the Independent Practice Inspection was also completed this year. The Audit and Evaluation Division’s (AED) audit manual was updated and audit managers now document lessons learned at the end of each audit engagement. A performance measurement dashboard for AED has also been developed, discussed with the Committee and implemented. Although still a work in progress, this dashboard will continue to improve over time and should be an increasingly useful tool for AED as well as for senior management and the AC. As well, a strong majority of Post-Audit Feedback Surveys yielded positive results.  

Overall, the PCO Internal Audit team has performed with dedication and professionalism, delivering assurance results as well as important process improvements.

6- Follow-up on Management Action Plans

The Committee reviewed the status of all MAPs at two of its meetings. In addition, a Follow-Up Review of the Implementation of MAPs indicated that all MAPs reviewed had been effectively implemented.

On 1 April, 2014, eight MAP recommendations were outstanding. Five more were added during the year for a total of thirteen. Six were reported to AC as having reached Full Implementation status during 2014-2015. Seven MAP Recommendations remain outstanding at year end and all are within their due dates.

Based on its own ongoing review of the status of MAPs, the progress achieved in implementing MAP recommendations during the year and the results of the formal Follow-Up Review of the Implementation of MAPs that has just been completed, the Committee assesses that, within PCO, a sufficiently high priority is assigned to implementing MAP recommendations in a timely manner.

7- Liaison with External Assurance Providers

During three of its four meetings, the Committee was briefed on plans, progress and/or the results of audit work by various external assurance providers.

Most of this work was related to the role of PCO as a central agency. The Committee also reviewed the relevant assurance products, which examined government-wide issues of interest to the Committee. The Office of the Comptroller General’s Horizontal Audit of Financial Forecasting in Large and Small Departments enabled a useful self-assessment by PCO Financial staff, which confirmed positive results for the organization.

The Committee also received updates on the ongoing work of external assurance providers focused on PCO as a department. The Committee will continue to monitor this work, including management responses, and provide appropriate advice.

The Committee also hosted an informative and useful working lunch with the Comptroller General, Bill Matthews, during the 2 April, 2015 PCO AC meeting.

8- Financial Statements, Public Accounts Reporting & other Accountability Reporting

The Committee has remained actively involved in the internal review of Quarterly Financial Statements and the annual Future-Oriented Statement of Operations and is satisfied with the quality and discipline of financial reporting.

The Committee reviewed and provided input on the 2013-2014 Departmental Performance Report (DPR) and on the 2015-2016 RPP. The AC is generally satisfied with both documents. However, progress remains slow with respect to Performance Measurement. An expansion of the use of “Targeted Performance Levels”, as employed for the past two years in the RPP Supplementary Information Table on the Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy, to a few other areas initially such as Public Service Leadership and Direction, might achieve concrete progress relatively easily.

The receptive response and detailed feedback by involved PCO staff to the Committee’s input makes the effort seem particularly worthwhile and appreciated.

Audit Committee Assessment

Based on its Self-Assessment at Annex C, the Committee believes that it continues to function well together and that it has fulfilled its mandate in the past year.

Future Plans and Priorities

In addition to remaining focused on its core responsibilities, the Committee’s priorities for 2015-2016 will include the following:

  1. Maintain the emphasis on the production of highly focused assurance and other products in areas of highest risk;
  2. Maintain the Committee’s focus on the management of security risks; and,
  3. Continue to assist PCO in strengthening its approach to risk management.

Annex A – Audit Committee Membership and Operations

Membership of Audit Committee

The PCO Audit Committee has been in operation for six years. 

The AC complies with all the membership provisions in Section 6.4 of the Directive on Internal Auditing in the Government of Canada.

  1. Three of the five AC members are external members recruited from outside the federal public administration. The two internal members are Deputy Minister level officials in PCO.
     
  2. The three external members were jointly selected by the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet and the Comptroller General, and their appointments were approved by the Treasury Board.
     
  3. The two internal members, appointed by the Clerk, are Michael Wernick, Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet, and Coleen Volk, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Senior Personnel, Business Transformation and Renewal).
     
  4. External members have an appropriate diversity of skills, knowledge and experience. [ * ]  
     
  5. The external Chair is serving in his second four year term which ends in February 2017. The second member will complete his second four year term in June, 2017. The third member is currently serving in her first four year term which will end in November, 2015, but she has already agreed to and has been formally approved by Treasury Board to serve on PCO’s Audit Committee for a second four year term starting upon completion of her first term in November 2015. This phasing should ensure good continuity in the coming years.
     
  6. The AC follows the “preferred model” defined in the Directive with an external member serving as Chair.
     
  7. All external members are familiar with public sector financial reporting, especially since they all also serve on the audit committees of other departments. One is a practicing Chartered Accountant with a Fellow Chartered Accountant designation.
     
  8. Consistent with the Charter for the PCO Audit Committee, the CFO (Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Services Branch) and the CAE attend all AC meetings.
     
  9. Also consistent with this Charter, the quorum for meetings is a majority of members, including at least one internal member and two external members. No alternates are permitted.
     
  10. In addition to the CFO and CAE, other senior PCO officials, including Deputy Secretaries and the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, attend meetings as appropriate. The Charter makes it clear that the AC has direct access to all PCO officials, and may invite external assurance providers or Treasury Board Secretariat officials to discuss matters of interest to the Committee.
     
  11. External members are all free of any real or perceived conflicts of interest, and fully understand that any such conflict, real or perceived, should be discussed immediately with the Chair and the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet.

Operations of Audit Committee

Terms of reference for the AC are contained in the Charter for the Privy Council Office Audit Committee. The Charter outlines in a comprehensive and practical way the roles, responsibilities and operations of the AC. The Charter was reviewed and updated by the Committee in April, 2015.

The AC met four times during this reporting period. All meetings took place face-to-face and all members participated.

The incremental cost for running the AC over this reporting period was approximately $72,500. Most of this amount ($62,500 or 87%) was for direct compensation through payroll expenses to external members. With one external member commuting from [ * ] and another from [ * ], most of the rest of the overall expenditure ($9,000 or 12%) was for travel and accommodation expenses. The remainder ($1,000 or 1%) was for miscellaneous expenses including meals provided to members during day-long meetings.

In-camera meetings were held as part of each AC meeting. These included sessions with members only present; sessions with only the CAE and members present and sessions with only the CFO and members present. The Committee also met with the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet.

To ensure that the Committee addresses its core responsibilities, a forward agenda and activity plan for each coming year is prepared and agreed by the AC and approved by the Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet. In addition, the AC workplan is discussed at the end of each meeting to provide individual members with an opportunity to provide ongoing input and to ensure good collective discipline in terms of implementation.

Taking into account the guidance provided in the Practice Guide: Departmental Audit Committee Annual Report which was promulgated by Treasury Board Secretariat in April, 2013, the initial drafts of this PCO AC Annual Report and Annex A were prepared by the Chair, and an initial draft of Annex B was prepared with the assistance of the CAE and his staff, and Annex C with the input of all members. The entire draft report was then discussed and finalized at a special meeting in which all external members participated. Internal members, the CFO and the CAE were invited to provide input and to participate in discussions of the draft report throughout the process. However, consistent with the Directive on Internal Auditing in the Government of Canada, this Annual Report represents the views of the independent external members.

Annex B – PCO Audit Committee 2015-2016 Annual Plan

The key areas of responsibility that shall be addressed by the Committee during the 2014-2015 fiscal year are listed below. The particular emphasis and priorities for the Committee will be adjusted as necessary in consultation with the Clerk and in consideration of the departmental mandate, objectives and priorities, as well as the corresponding risks affecting PCO and the government. It should be noted that “review” actions may be accomplished in several ways, including: the review of documents (during meetings or secretarially); receiving presentations by subject matter experts; and discussions with PCO officials.

No.
Action Item Description
Timing
Sept / Oct 2015
Dec 2015 / Jan 2016
Mar/ Apr 2016
June 2016
Audit Committee Infrastructure
1 Audit Committee Charter
Review the Audit Committee Charter and as necessary seek reaffirmation by the Clerk.
    X  
2 Audit Committee Meeting Annual Plan
The Chair, in consultation with the other Committee members, will prepare a plan for recommendation to the Clerk to ensure that the Committee’s annual and ongoing responsibilities are scheduled and fully addressed.
      X
Audit Committee Responsibilities 
3 Values and Ethics
Review and provide advice on PCO’s systems and practices established to monitor compliance with laws, regulations, policies and standards of ethical conduct and identify and deal with any legal or ethical violations.
X      
4 Risk Management
Review and provide advice on PCO’s risk management arrangements, including the department’s risk profile.
X X X X
5 Management Control Framework
Review and provide advice on PCO’s internal control arrangements, and be informed of significant issues relevant to the Committee’s mandate and relating to the effectiveness of those arrangements that may arise from work performed by others who provide assurances to senior management and the Clerk.
      X
6a Departmental Internal Audit Charter
Review PCO’s Internal Audit Charter and recommend for reaffirmation by the Clerk, as necessary.
X      
6b Adequacy of Internal Audit Resources
Provide advice to the Clerk on the sufficiency of resources of the internal audit function.
This action will be linked to discussion of the AC Annual Report (item 11) and the CAE Annual Report (item 6g).
X      
6c Risk-Based Internal Audit Plan
Review and recommend for approval the multi-year risk-based internal audit plan.
      X
6d Performance of the Internal Audit Function/CAE
  • Monitor and assess the performance of the internal audit function; and
  •  Provide advice to the Clerk on the performance of the Chief Audit Executive.
      X
6e Internal Audit Reports & Management Action Plans
Review and recommend for approval internal audit reports and corresponding management action plans to address recommendations.    
X X X X
6f Progress Against Risk-Based Internal Audit Plan
Review regular reports on progress against the risk-based internal audit plan.
X   X X X
6g Annual Report from the CAE
Review the annual report prepared by the Chief Audit Executive.
      X
6h Audit Engagements that do not Result in a Report
Be made aware of audit engagements or tasks that do not result in a report to the Committee, and be informed of all matters of significance arising from such work.
X X X X
As required
7 External Assurance Providers
Be informed and advise the Clerk, as appropriate, on:
  • All audit work relating to the department to be undertaken by external assurance providers, including management's response; and
  • Audit-related issues and priorities raised by external assurance providers.
X X X X
8 Follow-up on Management Action Plans
Review regular reports on the progress implementing approved management action plans resulting from prior internal audit recommendations as well as management action plans resulting from the work of external assurance providers.
X X X X
9a Financial Statements and Public Accounts Reporting
  • Review and provide advice to the Clerk on the key financial management reports and disclosures of the department, including quarterly financial reports, annual financial statements and Public Accounts.
This activity will normally be performed secretarially.
X X X X
As required
9b
  • Review the annual Statement of Management Responsibility Including Internal Control over Financial Reporting and provide advice to the Clerk on the risk-based assessment plans and associated results related to the effectiveness of the departmental system of Internal Control over Financial Reporting.
X      
10 PCO Accountability Reporting
Receive and review copies of PCO’s Departmental Performance Report, Report on Plans and Priorities, and any other significant accountability reports. The Committee may also receive information copies of plans and reports prepared by the departmental evaluation function.
This activity will normally be performed secretarially.
X X X X
As required
Accountability Reporting by the Committee
11 Audit Committee Annual Report to the Clerk
The independent external members of the Committee will prepare and submit an annual report to the Clerk.
The Clerk will be fully briefed in advance of the finalization of the Annual Report of the Committee.
      X
Other
12 In-Camera Sessions
The Committee will meet individually in camera at each of its in-person meetings with PCO’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Audit Executive, and any other officials the Committee may determine.
X X X X
13 External Practice Inspection
As applicable, the Committee will review regular reports on the progress implementing the CAE’s action plan resulting from recommendations from the 2013 External Practice Inspection. 
X X X X

Annex C – Audit Committee Self-Assessment

The following table sets out the consolidated response to the questions contained in the PCO Audit Committee Assessment Questionnaire as received from the Audit Committee members, the CFO and the CAE.

Q.1 Does the Committee have the appropriate number of members (i.e. three to five)?

Yes. Current configuration of three External members, including the Chair, and two Internal Members including the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, works well. 

Q.2 Does the Committee have the necessary skills and expertise represented on the Committee, consistent with the Departmental Audit Committee competency profile?  If not, what skills and/or expertise are required?

Yes. The members and participants collectively have an appropriate mix of skills, experience and expertise and they work well together.

Q.3 Do all members continue to be independent, as defined by policies applicable to the department?  In addition to meeting the technical definitions of independence, Committee members demonstrate their objectivity during meetings, through behaviors such as driving agendas, rigorous probing of issues, consulting with other parties, and hiring experts, as necessary?

Yes. External members are fully independent and demonstrate this during meetings. There are no obstacles whatsoever to providing their views and frank advice, and they do this.

Q.4 Are differences of opinion on issues resolved to the satisfaction of the Committee?

Yes. Different perspectives on issues are often provided, but there has never been a problem with concluding on issues in a way that is acceptable to all members. The Chair ensures all parties know they can voice their opinions freely and that any differences of opinion are vetted until resolved to the committee’s satisfaction.

Q.5 Do the members challenge the Chair as appropriate?

Yes. Members are strong individuals who feel free to challenge the chair as appropriate. However, in practice, there is a high degree of mutual respect.  The Chair is sensitive to the views of others and is skilled at finding the right formula for collective advice that is clear and useful to management while respecting the perspectives of other members.

Q.6 Is the Committee Charter or terms of reference used as a document to guide the Committee in its efforts and help guide the Committee’s agenda?

Yes. The Charter is reviewed annually by the committee and there is collective ownership of it. An annual work plan that aligns with this Charter is used to guide the focus and work of the committee.

Q.7 Does the Committee commit sufficient time to review, discuss and consider matters brought before it?

Yes. Managing time effectively during meetings can sometimes be a challenge, but members work well together and there is sufficient time for each of them to provide their perspective and advice on major issues. And when there is not enough time, items are brought back for further discussion.

Q.8 Does the Committee meet with management to discuss the financial statements and key accountability documents (e.g., the RPP, DPR) before they are finalized?

Yes. The Committee always reviews and provides input on these documents before they are approved. We have a formula that works. To meet the required deadlines, financial statements and other key accountability documents are usually sent to members for comment electronically.  Members see each other’s inputs and management provides excellent feedback with respect to how these inputs have been handled. When the timing works, this process is reinforced with discussions during regular meetings.

Q.9 Does the Committee engage outside experts as appropriate?

Yes. The Committee understands it can engage outside experts if they feel a need to do so. Beyond the practice inspection in the previous reporting cycle, the Committee has not had to engage outside experts.  However, should the need arise, we would have no hesitation whatsoever in doing so.

Q.10 Are the organization’s management controls, including controls over financial reporting, stronger as a result of management’s interactions with the Committee?

Yes. PCO’s controls are stronger as a result of internal audit reports and management’s action plans, and the Committee provides advice to management on both either through direct interactions at Committee meetings or through the Committee’s advisory role to the Clerk.

Q.11 Is the Committee cognizant of the line between its role and that of management, and does it endeavor to respect that line?

Yes. External members are respectful of their advisory roles and the responsibilities of management. They do not try to assert themselves in ways that go beyond their advisory role.

Q.12 Does the Committee conduct in-camera sessions in a manner that offers a “safe haven” to the individuals, while at the same time asking tough and necessary questions, evaluating the answers, and pursuing issues that might arise to a satisfactory resolution?

Yes. A regular feature of every meeting is an in camera session with members only; with the CAE; and with the CFO.

Q.13 Do Committee members participate in continuing education to stay abreast of changes in those areas it is responsible for overseeing?

Yes. Members attend the Office of the Comptroller General’s Annual Audit Committee Symposium each year. The Chair also attends the meeting of the AC Chairs which usually precedes each symposium.  Members also bring to the PCO AC their experiences gained by simultaneously being members of the ACs at other government departments.

Q.14 Does the Committee do its part to ensure the objectivity of the internal audit team?

Yes. The committee looks closely at the work of the internal audit team to ensure it is rigorous and objective, especially since the introduction of new tools to record the objectivity and independence of the internal audit team which resulted from the 2013 Practice Inspection of AED.  Members effectively raise any concerns they have and any such concerns are discussed and dealt with appropriately.

Q.15 Does the Committee provide constructive feedback to the Chief Audit Executive at least annually?

Yes. There is a good process to provide feedback during the performance evaluation process. Ongoing feedback is also provided during meetings and through the Chair during ongoing interactions with the CAE throughout the year

Q. 16 Other Comments:

The PCO Audit Committee much appreciates the excellent support it continues to receive from the CAE and his fine AED “Team”.

This is a good Committee.  It is well supported and it functions well.

It is a pleasure to work with and receive support from the members of the Committee.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Privacy statement

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: