June 10, 2021 – The risk of fraud in provincial government departments is constant but fraud-risk assessments are lagging in several departments, a legislative public accounts meeting heard Wednesday.
“Fraud is always a risk, I can’t say that there haven’t been instances of fraud,” Geoff Gatien, associate deputy minister and comptroller of the Finance Department and Treasury Board, said in response to questions from Dartmouth East MLA Tim Halman about providing assurances that COVID funding over the past year-plus hasn’t been misappropriated.
“But I can say that we have been of heightened focus, we have regular monthly forecasting, we have Treasury Board involved in reviewing department submissions, we have Finance staff and deputy ministers signing off on their forecasts,” Gatien said.
“We have a lot of regular controls that function well and when people are attuned to these risks and the circumstances that we’ve been experiencing for the past 15 months, I have a very high degree of confidence that Finance and Treasury Board has been engaged and we’ve been met with nothing but co-operation from the departments we serve.”
Joanne Munro, deputy minister of Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services, said she and her department assumed the responsibility of both fraud-risk management and cybersecurity about two years ago when the two units merged.
“We are a team of more than 1,500 employees working alongside a broader range of public partners in the health, university and municipal sectors,” Munro said of the merged department.
Munro said cybersecurity and risk management are a global reality faced at work and in our personal lives.
“From the province’s perspective, we are constantly monitoring and updating systems,” and working with partners inside and outside of government.
In January 2019, the province’s auditor general and its privacy commission slammed the Liberal government for a failure to assess and manage its online freedom-of-information portal.
More than 7,000 documents were downloaded on March 3, 2018, including hundreds with sensitive, personal information but the breach went undetected for a month. Saltwire.com reports. | READ MORE