In a new report released by the auditor general of Nova Scotia, Michael Pickup, the provincial government needs to tighten its control on potential fraud through senior officials with access to taxpayer money.
Released today, Pickup’s report on provincial finances states that 88 per cent of public organizations within the province haven’t completed a risk assessment connected with potential fraud.
Only 14 of 48 government organizations have any sort of fraud policy and some of the outlets without a risk assessment include the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, school boards, the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre and the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
“It (the government) should fix the weaknesses in internal controls and gaps in overall fraud risk management that threatens the good use of public money,” Pickup said in a news release.
Earlier in the year, on June 1, the province put into place a zero-tolerance fraud policy with the goal of curbing theft from public coffers, with enforced training to be completed by all public servants.
Michael Pickup’s comments on the heels of a scandal over frivolous spending by the former chief executive officer of Atlantic Canada’s largest children’s hospital. Tracy Kitch stepped down from her position at the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre in late August after an independent review stated she owed thousands of dollars in connection with “potentially personal,” expenses she charged to her corporate credit card.
In his report, auditor general Pickup notes that his office found significant weaknesses in the financial parameters at the IWK Health Centre, as well as at the Nova Scotia Health Authority and House Nova Scotia.
The report points to the IWK discrepancies in executive spending as an “opportunity for learning.”.
“It’s important that management in government departments and organizations review the control weaknesses and issues identified at the IWK and assess if their organization is exposed to similar risks,” the report says, adding it’s also important cabinet ministers “seek assurance that this has been done.”.
The report also indicates that tips called into hotlines account for 40 per cent of all fraud discoveries, and Michael Pickup said that such a hotline should be implemented in Nova Scotia. Because at the time, only the Nova Scotia liquor board uses a fraud tip hotline.
Read the full story at The National Post.