October 13, 2020
Audit and Evaluation Committee (AEC) Meeting
October 13, 2020
10:30am to 12:00pm
Microsoft Teams Meeting
Graham Fraser, External member - Chair
André Grondines, External member
Caroline Maynard, Information Commissioner
Stephen Campbell, Associate Director, Strategic Planning, Policy and Audit Services
France Labine, Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services, Strategic Planning and Transformation Services, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Audit Executive (CAE)
Senior Management Committee:
Layla Michaud, Deputy Commissioner, Investigations and Governance (absent) Gino Grondin, Deputy Commissioner, Legal Services and Public Affairs (absent) Guests:
Riowen Abgrall, Principal, Office of the Auditor General of Canada
Sébastien Lafond, Director, Finance, Procurement, Administration and Security and Deputy Chief Financial Officer (DCFO)
Chantal Laberge, Financial Management Analyst
Approval of record of decisions and action items from the meeting of May 21, 2020. Approval of the 2020 and 2021 Forward Calendar.
Financial Statements approved by the AEC and for signature by the Commissioner. Presentation of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) Report to the Audit Committee (RAC).
Call to Order and Opening Remarks
The Chair and Commissioner welcomed Mr. Grondines as the new external member and noted that his active participation on another Agent of Parliament (Elections Canada) will bring added value to this committee.
Mr. Grondines stated that is was a great pleasure to join the team.
The Chair congratulated the office for its resilience during this rather unique period of the Canadian government by continuing OIC operations during the pandemic.
The Commissioner stated that the office will remain closed until early April 2021 which will allow staff to plan for the long term. The health of the employees is more important and all employees are now working well from home. The limited staff with essential tasks are permitted to go to the office approximately once a week. The pandemic situation demonstrated that it is possible for employees to work from home and be good at it. The Beyond 2020 Committee is looking at what the new office will look like. Employees really like the flexibility that the pandemic is giving them. The CFO and DCFO will look at this by looking at providing appropriate policy (such as telework and working remotely) and procedure to ensure flexibility with the return to work on site framework.
The Commissioner also noted that the office received permanent funding after 4 years of temporary funding ($ 3M).
The CFO/CAE stated that the new internet site is now launched including the online complaint form.
Minutes and Action Items from the May 21, 2020 Meeting.
The members approved the minutes of the May 21, 2020. The action items were reviewed and approved.
Publication of the minutes of the May 21, 2020 on the OIC website.
2020 Forward Calendar – Presented by G. Fraser
In light of the current exceptional circumstances, the committee approved the 2020 and 2021 Forward Calendar and agree to continue to meet regularly to discuss any new risks and the impact of COVID-19 on the OIC operations.
No action required.
Financial Statements and Annex – Presented by S. Lafond
The DCFO welcomed the new external member. He congratulated J. Dusseault who worked actively to answer the questions of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) during the audit and also C. Laberge for the preparation of the financial statement and annex. The DCFO also thanked the OAG team for their cooperation during this audit.
The DCFO provided a detailed review of the 2019-20 Financial Statements including the Annex to the Statement of Management Responsibility and Internal Control Over Financial Reporting (ICFR). The highlights and significant variances were explained and discussed as per the PowerPoint presentation provided.
The external member questioned how pay works at OIC. The DCFO responded that if there is an issue with an employee’s pay or pay file not transferred, the office would provide an advance. The DCFO also stated that with pay files not transferred it is difficult to calculate vacation balances for example. The Commissioner added that with its own compensation officers now in place and less reliance on the central governmental pay centre (Miramichi), the transfer of pay files is much quicker and as a result producing better financial information. The OAG stated that this is problematic for several departments. The CFO added that since the OIC signed a special memorandum of understanding (MOU agreement) with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), granting them full access to the system, therefore transfer of pay files happens much faster and the office has two advisors trained to look at all pay files.
Also noted that since OIC and OPC share the same accounting structure and systems, extra work was required between the two organizations in order to accurately separate and report on their respective transactions and other mandatory reporting requirements. With both offices planning to change financial systems (SAP) in the near future, perhaps this could provide an opportunity to create separate accounts for both OIC and OPC.
The members reviewed and discussed the information presented. The Chair proposed that the Commissioner approve the Financial Statements and the Commissioner agreed.
C. Laberge will prepare the documents for the electronic signatures.
Publication of the signed audited Financial Statements and Annex on the Office of the Information Commissioner's website when the date of posting of the Departmental Results Report is announced.
The CFO and DCFO to look into the separation of OIC and OPC accounts by initiating discussions with OPC and central agencies.
OAG Financial Statements Audit Report & Management Action Plan – Presented by R. Abgrall
The Finance team was thanked by R. Abgrall for their collaboration and being able to complete the audit work later than normally planned due to the pandemic situation.
The report and management action plan was presented which included the annual audit results, risks and mitigation measures.
The OAG had an unmodified opinion of the Financial Statements. The major risk for this audit (and not limited to only the OIC) is Phoenix system related. The risk remains high but controls in place ensured that the risk is very limited. Based on the test sample, the OAG was very comfortable but had noted the delays in the transfer of employee pay files which is a common challenge for departments in general.
The external member stated that since the OIC has an external service agreement with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), questioned if the OIC received letters of attestation to satisfy the Commissioner on compliance on the level of internal controls. R. Abgrall stated that the OIC receives this letter every year as well as the OPC (CHRC does a joint verification).
The Chair questioned why the number of OAG hours worked on the audit was higher this year. R. Abgrall stated it was mainly due to limited resources due to the pandemic and extra time required for the knowledge transfer to the new auditors assigned to the audit. There were no delays from the OIC Finance team.
The external member stated there were no recommendations for the Internal Controls or systems and questioned if there were any reports of findings that existed. The CFO stated that for the previous audit, an external company (Samson) did an audit on procurement and there was only a few small findings with recommendations which were actioned.
F. Labine to provide a copy by email of the Samson procurement audit report to members and CHRC attestation of their key controls.
In Camera Session
A brief in camera discussion was held with the Commissioner, the Chair and the external member.
The next meeting is scheduled for November 26, 2020 which will include the results of the Financial Mid-Year Review and a COVID-19 update.