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ministries prepare risk assessments, but one of the elements that we wanted to highlight going forward in the risk assessment process is…. although fraud is a key risk listed in the risk assessment process, i don't know if it's focused on as well. By conducting a fraud risk assess- ment, working with ministries, i think we would be able to educate them more fully on how fraud is just a little bit dierent and needs to be focused on.
We have a number of preventative and detective con- trols in place. We do receive quite a number of tips, for want of a better word, both under the obligation to report to the comptroller general and standards of conduct. as well, internal audit does nd issues, when they do their work, that warrant further follow-up. We're looking at being able to enhance that.
Since setting up the investigative group three years ago, we've been working fairly hard at trying to connect ourselves with the other areas within the province that deal with fraud and fraud risks, so the other fraud- monitoring groups within ministries.
another key element that improves fraud awareness and helps in dealing with fraud is an increased focus on internal control, so internal audits and audit plans for the current year and subsequent years are putting a little more emphasis on good control and being able to review an audit for good control practices apart from what we have been doing. at re-emphasizes the point.
We're also looking at being able to clarify — in relation to the Public Service agency's role, risk management branch's role and the oce of the comptroller general's role, as well as the roles of the other investigative groups
as to how we coordinate when we know we've got a
problem and how we share information.
e other piece is that we are looking at how to im-
prove the loss-reporting requirements in policy that were noted that we weren't meeting.
With that, that's the end of my presentation, and i'm happy to take any questions.
b. Ralston (Chair): okay, thanks very much. i'm sure there'll be a few questions. let me put together a list. Spencer, guy. anyone on the other side? We'll start with those two.
S. Chandra Herbert: i'm just curious. to govern- ment: i understand two of the recommendations…. one was a fraud hotline; another recommendation was pro- tection for whistle-blowers. i wonder if the comptroller might be able to respond to those two points and what the thinking is at government at this stage on those.
S. Newton: actually, as part of our project plan going forward to look at a fraud risk management strategy, we are looking into these areas to determine what we think needs to be enhanced. We certainly have
avenues for people to report to the comptroller gen- eral. ere are in the standards of conduct reporting requirements that also relate to the auditor general as well. We need to review whether we think those are enough or not.
e issue with hotline — and this is what we have to
work out — is that there are costs associated with setting it up. is it the best avenue for getting tips? i know the stats show that 50 percent of the issues come through tips. We're experiencing that through a dierent way, through other internal channels. certainly, a hotline would benet people outside of government as well, so we, as part of this project, are looking into that to deter- mine how practical or pragmatic….
ere are areas within government that have tip hot-
lines. i believe there's one for tax fraud, and i think there's one in the resource sector, but i'm not entirely sure of the specic area. So we are looking at those in de- termining what would be our best avenues to get good information.
S. Chandra Herbert: Just on the whistle-blower point, i know it's been raised in the house, as well, as some- thing that members may feel needs to happen. at was some years ago. i'm just curious if thinking has pro- ceeded since then. obviously, this has been debated and discussed before, in the past, so i'm just not sure what more needs to be done to think about it.
S. Newton: Well, i think we need to revisit it. i know when we were rst dealing with the obligation to re- port — the changes to the faa — one of the comments that was made was that the standards of conduct should protect an individual who is a whistler-blower internal to government because they're still required under the standards of conduct to be treated appropriately and fairly.
i think one of the comments at that time was that the whistle-blower protection might create almost a false sense of security in relation to whistle-blowers, but certainly, given our progress down this fraud road — looking at a better fraud risk management program — it needs to be revisited. i think we also need to include what avenues would be available for contractors or the public.
e public has various avenues. ey do provide com-
ments to my oce. ey do provide comments to their members, who do provide comments or concerns back to us. So there is that avenue. it would just be creating something more formal.
G. Gentner: e auditor general states that among the most common causes of fraud are purchase card misuse by employees. i want to get into, i suppose, what is sub- liminal the or what is tangible and what isn't tangible. i see some members opposite know where i'm going.