Tuesday , 30 May 2023
Home News Councilors seemed receptive to proposal to increase power of City Auditor

Councilors seemed receptive to proposal to increase power of City Auditor

Hamilton staff may not be crazy about it, but there seemed to be some warmth around the council table for making the City Auditor General an independent  function answering directly to council. Currently, Auditor General Brown’s department reports to the city manager. The proposal came as Brown presented a report to council that recommended  that the current Whistleblower program which had been a pilot program be made permanent. The changes would bring Hamilton in line with the Province and the Federal governments where Auditors-General are completely independent.

In his presentation Brown said the Fraud and Waste Hotline had exceeded all expectations in terms of the number of complaints it handled. From the inception of the program in 2019 until last June, 272 complaints had been made by tipsters and fully a third of them had been substantiated by the AG. 68 of the complaints were investigated by the Auditor, another more than 100 were referred to various city departments. 57 percent of the complaints came from city whistleblowers and the rest from the public.

The recent Red Hill Inquiry testimony pointed to the need to expand the powers of the Auditor General. Testimony and emails showed instances where senior department heads were instructing staff to stonewall the Auditor General as it tried to conduct a value-for-money audit on city roads, That audit threatened to intrude into Red Hill Issues at a time when staff were scrambling to deal with mounting lawsuits and pressure from council and the public to make the highway safer.

The Audit and Administration Committee received Brown’s report today. It will come back at some later date for ratification, but Brown had already submitted an enabling bylaw for consideration. Comments around the table seemed open to the proposals as members praised Brown for his work.

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