Introduction

At its May 1, 2007 meeting, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Audit and Evaluation Committee approved the "Preliminary Survey Report – Audit of Accounts Payable" and the deferral of the detailed examination phase of the audit. The Committee requested that Internal Audit and Evaluation undertake selected testing of accounts payable during fiscal year 2007-08. The Assurance Engagement of Accounts Payable – Large Payments to External Vendors was therefore included as part of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Three Year Risk Based Audit Plan (Fiscal Year 2007-2008 to 2009-2010). The engagement period was from September 2007 to April 2008. 

Accounts payable are liabilities that occur when amounts are owing to creditors for goods received or services rendered. An accounts payable arises because of the time lag between the receipt of goods and services and the time in which the invoice is paid. Accounts payable are recognized for payment upon receipt of an invoice that has been approved under section 34 of the Financial Administration Act.

Requisitions for payments and settlements from the Consolidated Revenue Fund are to be submitted to the Receiver General in accordance with the format, information, certification, verification and data integrity requirements stipulated in the Payments and Settlements Requisitioning Regulations, 1997 of the Financial Administration Act. The Treasury Board Account Verification policy indicates that responsibility for the system of account verification and related financial controls rests ultimately with those officers who are delegated payment authority pursuant to section 33 of the Financial Administration Act. Financial officers with payment authority must provide assurance of the adequacy of the section 34 account verification process and be in a position to state the process is in place and being followed. Furthermore, as part of the account verification process, transactions should be reviewed for accuracy such as ensuring that the payment is not a duplicate.

During the period under review, there was a centralized accounts payable function for Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Finance Canada under the Financial Policies and Procedures Division within the Corporate Services Branch.

Large payments to external vendors. The definition of large payments for the purposes of this engagement is individual payments greater than $100,000 made to external vendors.

The Assurance Engagement of Accounts Payable – Large Payments to External Vendors is part of the approved Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Three Year Risk Based Audit Plan (Fiscal Year 2007-2008 to 2009-2010).

Objective and Scope

The engagement objective was to conduct selected tests and analysis, based on a risk assessment, to provide additional assurance on issues and findings identified in the "Preliminary Survey Report – Audit of Accounts Payable." In particular, the engagement sought to provide reasonable assurance that there were no duplicate large payments made to external vendors during fiscal year 2006-07 and 2007-08 (periods 1 to 8),

The engagement covered all transactions greater than $100,000 processed for external vendors during fiscal year 2006-07 and 2007-08 (periods 1 to 8). The examination phase was conducted between September 2007 and February 2008.

The engagement scope was limited to large payments to external vendors. The scope did not verify the existence of the good or service or include an assessment of the effective use of goods and services provided by external vendors. In addition, the engagement did not validate internal controls within related business applications. 

Engagement Criteria

The criteria and tests used in the conduct of the engagement are based on the Financial Administration Act and Treasury Board financial management policies and procedures. The criteria are presented in Appendix 1.

Approach and Methodology

The engagement approach and methodology is risk-based and is consistent with the requirements for assurance engagements as defined by the Institute of Internal Auditors Professional Practices Framework and the Internal Auditing Standards for the Government of Canada. These standards require that the engagement be planned and performed in such a way as to obtain reasonable assurance that the objective is achieved. The engagement wasconducted in accordance with anengagement program that defined tasks to assess each criterion.

The approach used in carrying out the engagement included:

The selected tests and analysis conducted were based on a judgmental sample of the type of expenditure and the materiality of its annual balance. We assessed all transactions processed that were greater than $100,000 during fiscal year 2006-07 and 2007-08 (periods 1 to 8). The total number and dollar value of the transactions for the period were as follows:

Table 1: Total number and dollar value of the transactions assessed.
Fiscal Year Number of vendors Number of transactions Total dollar value of transactions ($M)
2006-07 25 280 $854.2
2007-08
(periods 1 to 8)
19 250 $630.6
Total 32* 530 $1,484.8

Source: Download from the SAP financial system

* The total number of external vendors that received payments during the period under review was 32, however not all external vendors received payments in both fiscal years while some received payments in both fiscal years.

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