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|Report on 2008 Internal Audit Forum|
|Sunday, 07 December 2008 20:00|
Internal Audit Leaders to Share Information, Offer Mutual Support
Members of the Government Internal Auditors Council of Canada (GIACC) identified a number of topics on which they plan to exchange information and areas in which they could provide mutual support at their annual National Forum in Ottawa, October 20-22, 2008.
Meeting for the sixth time since they first got together in 2003, the senior internal audit representatives from Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to look for opportunities to share information on such subjects as:
Members also saw opportunities to support each other:
The Forum was co-chaired by Richard Kennedy, Chief Internal Auditor and Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Finance; Brian Aiken of the Office of the Comptroller General of Canada, which hosted the meeting; and Nicole Wieczorek, CCAF's Chief Financial Officer and Secretary of the Council.
The Government Internal Auditors Council of Canada comprises member representatives from Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments, in most cases, that Governments' Chief Internal Auditor, as well as Luc Lavoie, the Executive Director of the Institute of Internal Auditors - Canada, and Michael Eastman, Executive Director of CCAF.
In addition to member-led sessions, presenters at this years Forum included:
CCAF was also pleased to welcome Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser, Auditor General of the City of Ottawa Alain Lalonde, Amipal Manchanda, Director General, Internal Audit and Accountability, Citizenship and Immigration Canada & Past President, IIA Ottawa Chapter, Board of Governors and Errol Price, Deputy Auditor General of British Columbia.
Forum covers wide range of topics
The three-day meeting began with a roundtable review of developments in each jurisdiction. Issues frequently raised in the roundtable included internal audit work with audit committees, the use of audit software, the role of internal audit in risk assessment, professional designations for auditors, and HR issues facing the community.
Bob Shahi, Director of the Northwest Territories Audit Bureau, reported on the results of a pilot survey of GIACC members regarding performance indicators for internal audit offices, conducted by the Performance Indicators Committee he chairs.
The survey tracked 9 of 33 performance indicators in 4 categories that members had earlier identified. Seven jurisdictions participated in the survey. Among the findings were the following:
The committee will rework the questions based on the knowledge gained from the survey and from the discussion, submit them to members for response, report on the results and then conclude the project.
The usefulness of the survey findings prompted the group to create a new permanent Performance Indicators Panel. Heather Zomar, Chief Internal Auditor, Government of Alberta, agreed to lead the new Panel, which will take the work of the committee chaired by Bob Shahi to the next level.
Elizabeth (Libby) MacRae sought the group's input on a draft public sector Internal Audit Capability Maturity Model she has been developing for the Institute of Internal Auditors Research Foundation, with funding from the World Bank.
The five-level model describes key elements for effective internal audit. It provides a tool for self-assessment and a roadmap for improving capabilities in an orderly manner.
Following a lively discussion based on her presentation, Libby thanked the group for its input.
Stuart Newton, Executive Director of Audit and Technical Services for the Government of British Columbia, made a presentation on Enterprise Risk Management in the BC Government.
His group is responsible for validating the risk assessments prepared by ministries, agencies and Crown corporations, identifying corporate risks, and suggesting audits based on risk and mitigation issues. It stresses that ministries and agencies are responsible for risk assessment, mitigation and management.
In the discussion that followed, members noted the difficulty many governments have in addressing risk effectively.
David Moynagh, Acting Executive Director, Professional Practices, Internal Audit Sector, Office of the Comptroller General of Canada and Paul Wallis, Executive Lead and Strategic Advisor, Audit Centre for Excellence, Ontario Internal Audit made separate presentations on Quality Assurance and Practice Inspections in the federal and Ontario governments respectively.
David reviewed The IIA and Government of Canada requirements for quality assurance and improvement programs for the internal audit function. He noted that the government's Internal Audit Policy and Guidelines require the Comptroller General to conduct practice inspections of the entire spectrum of departmental internal audit activities at least every four years.
David also reported that the Office of the Comptroller General (OCG) is developing a self-assessment tool that will allow departments to assess their conformance with all mandatory requirements for the function. Departments will be able to use the tool to prepare for practice inspections carried out by the OCG. Pilot inspections will begin in late 2008-2009; OCG will eventually conduct 14-15 inspections a year.
Paul described a multi-phase quality assurance program that is being implemented in Ontario, where audit service teams report to the Office of the Chief Internal Auditor but reside in the ministries they serve. The program will include independent validation by The IIA (March 2009) and final reports to ministry audit committees, with an overall report to the corporate audit committee. It will be sustained through an ongoing annual internal maintenance process followed by a five-year external assessment.
GIACC members discussed the challenge of finding trained quality assurance assessors. The IIA offers Quality Assurance Assessor Courses; Luc Lavoie said he would consider the feasibility of offering the course in Canada, perhaps once in western Canada and once in the east.
Mishèle Bérubé, Executive Director of Québec's Forum des responsables de la vérification interne, presented an update on the impact of Québec's Act Respecting the Governance of State-Owned Enterprises.
The Act, adopted in 2006, initially covered seven key state-owned enterprises, with more added since. The boards of these enterprises are required, among other things, to establish an audit committee composed solely of independent directors. The audit committees' responsibilities involve the audit plan, internal controls, and the risk management process.
Mishèle indicated that the Act has added substantially to the work of the heads of internal audit in the state-owned enterprises. Internal audit heads have responded by strengthening their links to other managers, networking to exchange best practices with other audit offices, ensuring they have adequate trained staff, and promoting the role of the function internally.
Lee McCormack, Director of Research at CCAF, described the research the Foundation is undertaking in the areas of innovation, risk and control, and asked GIACC members for their input into the work done to date. He noted that the discussion was the first opportunity he had had to engage a federal/provincial/territorial group in the initiative.
Following Lee's presentation, GIACC members made a number of observations and suggestions regarding the program. At the conclusion of the session, Lee said he would involve the members in a series of regional consultation sessions he is planning for 2009.
For this session, three Forum participants made presentations on initiatives taking place in their jurisdictions regarding internal control over financial reporting:
Each of the jurisdictions has been engaged in major projects to help strengthen internal control over financial reporting, suggesting that this is a subject of growing importance.
As the Forum approached its conclusion, GIACC members reviewed the Terms of Reference for the Council, and proposed a number of changes. CCAF will draft revised Terms of Reference for the approval of GIACC members.
CCAF Executive Director Michael Eastman summarized the results of the Forum. He noted the potential for the GIACC website to serve as a means for GIACC members to share information, and said CCAF would upgrade the site to enhance its usefulness. He also encouraged members to provide information for the website, and to use it.
The 2009 GIACC Forum will take place in Toronto, hosted by the Ontario Internal Audit Division of the Government of Ontario.
Government Internal Auditors Council of Canada