Auditor General Karen Hogan on holding government accountable

After a busy week in the headlines, Auditor General of Canada Karen Hogan sat down with The Peak to talk about her work, and her goals of making Canada better, one audit at a time.

How would you describe the role of the auditor general?

“My role as the auditor general of Canada is to provide objective information, advice, and assurance to Parliament, territorial legislatures, boards of Crown corporations, governments, and Canadians gathered through independent audits. This work often focuses on the government’s stewardship of public funds and efforts to protect the environment for future generations.”  

What does a typical day look like for you?

“As auditor general, there is rarely a typical day. Depending on the time of year, my days frequently involve working with our incredibly talented people on interesting work, whether it is developing performance audit reports or working through complex financial accounting issues. I also enjoy the opportunities I get to engage with government officials and members of the media about our work.”

How does your office plan/choose its audits?

“My office considers a wide range of input and feedback that helps us to prioritize our planned audits and to consider emerging issues. This is a rigorous multi-year selection process that aims to identify and deliver audits of significance for Canadians.”

What are the standards an audit must meet?

“It’s actually not me who sets the standards for our audits. We follow Canadian auditing standards so that everyone can rely on what we say and have confidence that our findings are supported by evidence.”

You’ve had a busy week in the headlines. Between announcing findings into process failures with government consultants, the mishandling of federal ‘green’ funds, and a lack of oversight by Canadian agencies into cybercrime, what is the ideal outcome of your work?

“My hope is that our work will make Canada better, one audit at a time. With the recent reports you mention, this would lead to the public service going back to fundamentals with a renewed focus on fairness, transparency, and value for Canadians.”

What is taking up most of your attention these days?

“Since I have just released reports, my attention in the coming days will be turning to engaging with parliamentarians as they begin to study this work. Over the summer we will be completing the audit of financial statements of the Government of Canada and turning our focus to the next round of reports planned for the fall. Canadians can stay up to date on our work by visiting our website.”

Is there a book you’ve been reading lately that you’d recommend?

“I would of course recommend reading any of our reports, especially the recent ones about professional services contracts, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, and combatting cybercrime.”