Kevin Sorenson Reports
Working on Canada’s Public Accounts
It has been great travelling around our riding of Battle River-Crowfoot this summer attending functions and meeting with many constituents. As your voice in Parliament, I look forward to hearing more from you in the few weeks remaining before the House of Commons reconvenes in Ottawa on September 19.
The work of a Member of Parliament sometimes requires an MP to fulfill duties outside of the Parliamentary precinct in Ottawa and outside of the riding. This past week, from August 21 to 23, I attended the Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts Committees in Yellowknife, NWT. This conference takes place once a year and invites representatives from Public Accounts committees in all of Canada’s provinces and territories. The Conference is hosted by a different city each year.
The reason I am attending this Conference is because representatives from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee also participate. As a member of the Official Opposition party in Parliament, I was elected by fellow MPs from all parties to Chair the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts. This committee is one of the very few in our Parliament that is required to be chaired by a member of the Official Opposition in the House.
The goal of our Conference is to share best practices. We hear information and learn about the experiences and progress of Public Accounts committees from all across the Commonwealth nations and our own provincial and territorial legislatures. Not all Public Accounts committees are alike. There are different procedures and methods that governments have in place for audits to be conducted on the activities of the departments that implement their policies. The goal of Public Accounts committees is always to try and assist governments in the expenditure of taxpayers’ money and make recommendations on improvements. We also wield a measure of accountability and bring transparency to the work of the federal government. This is one committee that best performs its duties when acting in a non-partisan manner.
As Chair of the Public Accounts committee, my duty is to oversee the committee’s deliberation on the Public Accounts of Canada and the Reports of the Auditor General of Canada. The Public Accounts of Canada is a three volume document that publishes annually the federal government’s revenues, expenditures, budgetary balance, liabilities, assets and accumulated deficit. The Auditor General formally reports to Parliament four times a year and in each report there are separate chapters that audit the performance of specific activities of the federal government.
The majority of our committee’s meetings deal with these individual chapters. We hold hearings and invite the Auditor General and federal departmental officials to discuss the findings of the audit. Our committee then prepares a Report that the Chair tables in Parliament. This Report makes recommendations to the government based on our findings, having heard testimony from witnesses on a particular chapter (audit) in the Auditor General’s Report.
I am pleased to report that at the Conference, we heard that Canada’s Public Accounts committee has earned a reputation of leadership when it comes to strengthening and developing the work of these committees. Over the past several years, Canada has made a substantial contribution to improving the procedures and methods utilized by Public Accounts committees throughout the Commonwealth and even here at home by sharing our information with our provincial and territorial governments.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-6084603 or e-mail Kevin.Sorenson.email@example.com.