Calgary Herald

Redford’s expenses report not ready

Auditor-general to release it later this summer


EDMONTON — An auditor general’s report being released Tuesday won’t include a review of former premier Alison Redford’s travel expenses or an efficiency audit of government aircraft, his office said Thursday.

Auditor general Merwan Saher hoped to deliver a report on Redford’s expenses and her controvers­ial use of government aircraft in July, but now expects to release it later this summer, said spokeswoma­n Kimberly Nishikaze.

“We’re still in the process of doing that field work and the report hasn’t been written yet,” Nishikaze said. “But it will be released just after that happens, and that should be in the next several months.”

While Nishikaze couldn’t provide a specific date, she said the report will be delivered before the release of the auditor general’s annual fall report in October.

“It will be a special report,” she said. “It will be a stand alone.”

Redford requested the investigat­ion March 4 when she decided to pay back about $3,100 for the estimated costs of having her young daughter’s friends accompany her on the government aircraft on four occasions, and for using a government plane to fly to Vancouver for a family funeral.

Amid controvers­y over her travel expenditur­es, the premier asked Saherto determine whether her office is in compliance with the government’s travel and expense policy. Redford announced her resignatio­n about three weeks later when the controvers­y wouldn’t abate and a caucus revolt appeared imminent.

A poll at the time showed nearly eight of 10 Albertans believed she should repay all or a portion of a trip to South Africa, which ended up costing taxpayers about $45,000. She eventually repaid that, too.

“We’ll be looking at things like travel, meal, hospitalit­y expenses, and how that was disclosed, and we’ll take a look at the policies that were in place, and whether or not those policies and procedures were followed,” said Nishikaze.

The auditor general is doing a separate review of the air transporta­tion service to determine whether it is meeting its objectives, and the costs and benefits of the service, she said. That review will likely be released at the same time as the review of the premier’s office expenses, she added. The three PC leadership candidates vying to replace Redford have suggested they will wait for the auditor general’s report before deciding whether to keep or sell the government aircraft fleet, or sell part of it.

Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman said she would rather see a “full and thorough investigat­ion” — even if it takes longer.

“I’m willing to wait for a full report,” she said. “I think there is a value for money question in all of this. There has to be guidelines in the future.”

Nishikaze said the auditor general report that will be released on the office’s website Tuesday — www. — will review the government’s own performanc­e measures, which are included in the ministry annual reports. “This is a review of department­s and how they report results and the type of analysis that they do,” she said.

Saher will also re-examine Alberta’s climate change strategy, which was released in 2008, and follow up on the province’s bioenergy grant program that was criticized in the past for its lack of oversight.

The AG will also take another look at Alberta Health Services’ use of contracted surgical facilities, first reviewed in 2001 and again in 2011, Nishikaze said.

There will also be follow up audits of commercial vehicle safety, executive corporate credit cards, administra­tive systems at Athabasca University and management of sand and gravel resources, she said.

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