Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do?
We complete independent, performance audits of HRM, other municipal bodies, and any grant funds received from HRM. Performance audits consider economy, effectiveness, and efficiency. They are sometimes referred to as value-for-money audits. Our audits cover many areas such as: adequacy of internal controls, whether programs and initiatives are effectively achieving their objectives, and how funds are spent. Check out Published Reports to see reports on the results of our audits.
An external firm completes HRM’s annual financial statement audit. We have no role in this audit.
Who audits the auditor?
We follow CPA Canada standards. Our audits are conducted in accordance with the Canadian Standard for Assurance Engagements CSAE 3001 – Direct Engagements. We apply CPA Canada’s Canadian Standard on Quality Control CSQC 1, and our staff follow the Chartered Professional Accountants of Nova Scotia Code of Conduct.
As is the practice for many auditors general, we have an external peer review conducted by an independent audit office. This review examines whether we met CPA Canada standards in carrying out and reporting our work. The Office of the Auditor General of HRM had its first external peer review in 2019. It concluded we met CPA Canada standards.
Why can’t you force HRM to implement recommendations?
We cannot force HRM management to implement our recommendations, nor should we have the power to make management comply. An auditor general’s role is to provide suggestions for improvement. Regional Council, through the Audit and Finance Standing Committee, is responsible to hold management accountable. This includes making sure known deficiencies in programs are corrected.
We discuss draft recommendations with management to identify possible issues with implementing change. We also ask management to indicate whether they agree with our recommendations. This helps us develop recommendations that are practical and focus on significant areas for improvement. Our goal is to have management agree with 100% of our recommendations. After that, it is up to HRM management and Regional Council to ensure changes are made. We follow up after 18 months to determine whether recommendations have been implemented.
How are audits picked?
We look at many possible audit topics in deciding where our staff resources are best used. We interview Regional Council, senior HRM staff, and other stakeholders. Citizens may also bring concerns to our attention. Some of the areas we consider in selecting audits include: expenses or revenues, risk of fraud or error, public safety, environmental issues, and impact on HRM’s ability to deliver services to taxpayers
How do I make an audit suggestion?
You can suggest an audit topic or provide information you feel may be useful for one of our current audits by clicking here.