The Province

Gov’t agency’s claims stump auditor general


VICTORIA — B.C.’s auditor general was unable to determine whether a government agency in charge of supply chain purchasing for the province’s health regions is really saving the money it claims.

Auditor general Russ Jones set out to evaluate Health Shared Services B.C.’s claim that it has saved $230 million on procuremen­t.

The agency, a division of the Provincial Health Services Authority, handles centralize­d purchasing for B.C.’s health regions in an effort to leverage lower prices.

Health Shared Services B.C. claims to have saved $230 million in procuremen­t between February 2009 and March 2013 — an assertion made several times on the agency’s website.

But Jones said his office was unable to determine whether that figure is correct. He said purchasing data was inconsiste­nt between the province’s different health regions, which meant it would have taken months to gather in a form that could be analyzed. In some cases, health authoritie­s used different codes to describe the same product.

Jones said when the agency claims to have saved $230 million, it should make it clear the figure is merely an estimate, not a precise calculatio­n.

“We really don’t know,” Jones said when asked whether the agency’s estimated savings are accurate. “The problem is around the public reporting of this organizati­on, just letting the public know that this is an estimate. It’s not for certain.”

Jones said the agency should also provide the public with a detailed breakdown of how it calculated the estimate.

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