OTTAWA – Canada’s public service financial managers wholly concur with the findings of the Auditor General in the report she issued today regarding quality control of the nation’s finances and the modernization of Canada’s accounting system.

“As financial management professionals, our main goal is to work with the government to strengthen and modernize financial administration in the public sector,” said Merdon Hosking, President of the Association of Public Service Financial Administrators. “We agree with the Auditor General that reform of the financial administration system is critical if the government is to maintain the public’s trust, something we have been advocating since 1997.”

The Association has outlined two areas where it has significant concerns:

  • Quality of personnel who oversee financial administration system: Managers who are responsible for overseeing the financial system are not required to have any specific accounting accreditation. The philosophy governing the public service have given more weight to people with varied experiences and educational backgrounds as they are deemed to be better managers. The result is that people with no accounting accreditation are managing groups of financial professionals.
  • Misclassification of Financial Management Group (FI) positions: The government has set stringent standards for the FI group, including a recognized financial accreditation. Positions in the public service continue to be intentionally misclassified in order to circumvent the strict standards for the FI group. As a result, there are officials all over government in positions that require specific knowledge of financial accounting procedures who do not have financial training.

The Auditor General wrote in her report today that “the quality of the required decisions and analysis will depend on the people who prepare and use the information – those who explain the numbers, those who use them to support decisions with financial analysis, and those who foresee problems and recommend corrective action using the financial information.” She added that having junior staff with accounting designations is not good enough, that senior managers need to have financial training as well.

“We have raised our concerns with the Secretary of the Treasury Board, Mr. Jim Judd. We feel that the government has come a long way in implementing these reforms, however we will continually insist on enhancement, improvement and enforcement of these standards that have been set for public sector accounting. We are pleased to see that the Auditor General has indicated it is a high priority,” said Mr. Hosking.

“What we do has a bearing on the credibility of the government – if you can’t trust the books, public confidence in the system will suffer. This report clearly highlights the value and the importance of the work performed by members of the Association in the Public Service of Canada and their key role in the introduction of modern comptrollership in the Government of Canada,” added Mr. Hosking.

The Association of Public Service Financial Administrators represents the 2,800 accountants and financial professionals employed in all departments of the federal public service.

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For information:
Merdon Hosking, President
Association of Public Service Financial Administrators
(613) 728-0695