Archive for the ‘Audits’ Category

Bloess to AG: See If Politicians Have Been Causing Headaches In Construction Work

- February 18th, 2014

Coun. Rainer Bloess wants auditor general Ken Hughes to take a hard look at the involvement of council members when auditing the infrastructure portfolio this year.

Hughes, subject to council approval, will look at several areas of the portfolio, as I mentioned in this story earlier this month.

During the audit subcommittee meeting last week, Bloess indicated he wants to see if politicians essentially meddled in any construction project behind the scenes. He refers to one project in particular, and even though he doesn’t name it, we all know he’s talking about the Airport Pkwy. pedestrian bridge. The city is already looking into how things went so horribly wrong.

But the investigation can certainly extend many other projects, from bridges to Lansdowne Park.

Here’s the exchange between Bloess and Hughes, all sic.

Bloess: “In terms of the scope of your audit — I can think of a perfect case study before us without naming it — are you going to be looking at councillor involvement in terms of how some of these projects, you know, not come about, but how they evolve and how that they create whether it’s legal implications, cost implications for us. And the reason I’m asking is certainly none of us should be immune from having in an audit identify if we in any way have any involvement.”

Hughes: “If I understand the question from the councillor correctly, we’ll be looking at the areas we’ve identified here. If we find issues that would certainly take us into that realm, we would at this point in time, we’re not specifically going to be looking in that area.”

Bloess: “But you won’t avoid it either. You won’t turn a blind eye to anything you see.”

Hughes: “It isn’t my style to turn a blind eye to something like that.”

Hughes’ first answer is a bit difficult to decipher, but judging by his answer to Bloess’ follow-up question, the AG will flag anything interesting on councillor involvement.

By the time this audit hits the council table, the retiring Bloess will probably be on a beach somewhere, but I bet he’ll still be interested in reading the report.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Video: Lalonde Has Confidence In New Insider AG

- November 28th, 2013

Auditor general Alain Lalonde said his goodbyes today as he tabled the last audit of his tenure.

There was plenty of thanks to go around, to staff, politicians and even reporters. Lalonde received accolades, too, from councillors and city manager Kent Kirkpatrick.

During his press conference, I asked Lalonde if he thought it will be rough for an insider, Ken Hughes (current deputy treasurer of revenue), to take over the AG’s office.

Here’s what Lalonde said:

One final note, you’ll see on this other video I did that I mention the wrong year of the auditor general’s report. It’s the AG’s 2012 annual report. Don’t know what compelled me to rewind two years, but I wanted to make sure that mistake was acknowledged and corrected.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Cheaper To Golf In French At Pine View

- October 12th, 2011

Well, Coun. Tim Tierney wasn’t kidding when he said the Pine View Golf Course website is a bit shoddy.

“The website is a big sticking point for me,” Tierney said today as we discussed the future of the golf course.

He’s on the golf course’s board of management and he’s the chairman of City Hall’s information and technology subcommittee.

For a golf course, the website’s usability isn’t that bad.

But, wow, the inconsistencies between the prices on the English and French websites. If you want to play golf at Pine View, I suggest you cite the the French website for prices when you’re in the pro shop.

I screen-clipped these today:

Eighteen holes on the championship course Monday to Thursday, according to English website, is $36.28. On the French website it’s $35.00 Monday to Friday.

The French website says the prices include taxes. The English website says those prices don’t include taxes.

I won’t even talk about the banquet menus.

It’s clear the French website has been collecting dust. Former councillors — Bellemare, Jellett, Hunter, Leadman — are still listed on the board of management, while the English website is completely up to date.

Campground Under Microscope, Too

- October 10th, 2011

Pine View Golf Course isn’t the only city-owned asset having some accountability issues.

The auditor general also found some problems at the Ottawa Municipal Campground. For example, a count of the petty cash was a little out of whack and there was no comprehensive inventory of goods.

The AG took issue with the campground’s French-language capabilities. Like Pine View, there were translation errors on the campground’s website and face-to-face communication was a problem.

The audit isn’t as bad as Pine View’s, but the AG still has 10 recommendations for the campground.

Some tech advice, too, from the AG office, which recommends the campground get better computers, better than the floppy-drive machine currently used by staff. Sounds like a real relic!

AG Takes Hack At Pine View

- September 2nd, 2011

CTV Ottawa’s story on mismanagement at Pine View Golf Course has put members of the board on the defensive.

The TV station got its hands on a draft copy of an auditor general’s examination of the 2008-2009 business years. The report apparently says there were questionable expenses on credit cards and even self-written cheques, leading auditor general Alain Lalonde to call for better oversight of the course.

There are six councillors on the golf course board, including Rainer Bloess, the former board chairman.

The leaked report prompted Bloess to provide an explanation to council this afternoon. Here it is:

Dear Council colleagues,

As you may know, a DRAFT copy of the Audit Report of the Pine View Golf course was made public yesterday while it is still being worked on by both the Pine View Golf Course Board and the Office of the Auditor General.

Typically, Board members, facility management and City of Ottawa staff are provided with a fair opportunity to review the audit findings, clarify any issues and provide a formal management response. Then, the AG finalizes the report with management’s response included in the report. Given that the report was leaked in advance of its finalization, I feel that all Council members should be given an overview of where we stand in relation to the AG’s audit.

On behalf of the Councillors who sit on the Board of the Pine View Golf Course, I want to remind my Council colleagues that the Board sought and welcomed this Audit, which identifies management practises primarily in 2008-2009 that required overhaul and significant improvements.

On September 1, 2011 – in the course of its normal business – the Board met to consider and ultimately accept the AG’s recommendations. Further, the Board has worked over the last six months to implement a number of recommendations which we had received from the Auditor General. Each and every outstanding issue pertaining to financial management has been addressed by the Board.

Further, we expect that all of the AG’s recommendations to strengthen management practises at the Pine View Golf Course will have been fully implemented by the Fall of 2011.

As the Ward Councillor and former Chair of the Board, I am best positioned to respond to any additional questions you may have, keeping in mind that the Auditor General has not yet finalized his report and I am respecting his process. Therefore, the DRAFT report will not be released until such time as the Auditor General brings forward his final report in accordance with his processes and procedures.

It is my understanding that the AG is planning to expedite the release of his final report, likely in October.

Rainer Bloess

Mayor Jim Watson released a written statement on the matter.

“I am fully supportive of the position that the board has taken and pleased that they have accepted all of the recommendations in the auditor general’s draft report,” Watson says in the statement. “The financial management issues of 2008 and 2009 have all been resolved. I look forward to seeing the auditor general’s final report in October and I’m confident the board will implement all the recommendations.”

There has been a big debate about whether municipalities should be in the business of owning golf courses. Proponents say city-owned courses provide a cheaper option for golfers who love the recreational activity, while opponents say courses are better managed by companies in the golf business.

No doubt we’ll be keeping a closer eye on Pine View.