Strengthening auditing and accountability within departments
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On April 11, 2006, the Government of Canada introduced the Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan, delivering on its commitment to make government more accountable. The Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006. This is one of a series of fact sheets describing proposed actions to respond to this commitment.
It is vital to government accountability that, within the framework of the minister's overall responsibilities and his or her accountability to Parliament, the roles and responsibilities of deputy ministers are clear. In addition, independent, objective, and timely internal audit services within departments provide assurance to deputy ministers and reinforce good stewardship practices and sound decision-making.
These measures clarify the roles and responsibilities of deputy ministers and, together with a stronger internal audit capacity, help ensure that departments are well managed to meet the needs of Canadians.
The Action Plan
To clarify roles and responsibilities and strengthen internal audit, effective December 12, 2006, the Federal Accountability Act:
- designates deputy ministers and deputy heads as accounting officers who are accountable before the appropriate committee of Parliament to answer questions related to specific areas of management within the framework of ministerial responsibility;
- requires that a clear process be followed in the event that a minister and deputy minister are unable to agree on the interpretation or application of a Treasury Board policy, directive, or standard;
- requires that deputy heads ensure an appropriate internal audit capacity and establish departmental audit committees; and
- ensures that audit committees in Crown corporations are independent of corporation management.
Effective March 1, 2007, the Federal Accountability Act creates a new offence of fraud involving public funds, carrying a maximum term of five years in prison for fraud of $5,000 or less, a maximum term of 14 years in prison for fraud over $5,000, and automatic dismissal for any public servant convicted of this offence.
In addition, the Government is:
- implementing the new Treasury Board Policy on Internal Audit;
- developing a compliance framework that ensures both sides of compliance are addressed, and includes training tools for employees, disciplinary codes to provide clarity on misconduct and
- related consequences; and
- enabling the development of best practices and ensuring consistency in discipline across the core public administration, through the Deputy Ministers Advisory Committee on the Management of Compliance.
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