Sunday, July 18, 2010

Media Witchunt Fails Again: Accountability Act Working

Does this story in the Ottawa Sun try to create another pseudo-scandal? Do old habits take a long time to die?

 A probe was started as a result of a whistle blower in September 2009 and the results are promising. This is not a repeat of when broad corruption was discovered in its operations and the program was discontinued. Illicit and even illegal activities within the administration of the program were revealed, involving misuse and misdirection of public funds intended for government advertising in Quebec- wiki

...Public Works, the government's procurement arm, hired the auditing firm KPMG to examine contracts awarded to CRG during the past four years. The auditor reportedly examined about $24 million worth of CRG's contracts and determined that insufficient records were kept on five contracts worth $303,737.

The audit did not discover serious problems, the insufficient paperwork represented 1.26% of the $24 million,  
How much was the audit?

What has changed in the culture in Ottawa and why did the audit not find larger problems?
Why is the media busy creating fake scandals around a $ 2 million lake or a $ 16 Billion  Military Purchase? (Reflective pool was $ 57k and Jets are estimated $ 9 Billion part of ten year programs initiated by previous government). Did lobbyists or opposition parties contact the press with incorrect information and the Press ran with it before getting the facts correct again?
Leadership 101 Promise Made Promise Kept
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has followed through on a campaign promise to introduce a sweeping bill designed to make government more transparent and to crack down on unethical actions.

The federal accountability act was tabled in the House of Commons on Tuesday morning, along with a detailed Accountability Action Plan.

"It will replace the culture of entitlement that took root under the former government with a culture of accountability," Harper told a news conference in Ottawa.
Leadership and Accountability.  Do we hear in the media how this is change may be responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in savings or do we hear the government is secretive and controlling meme?

After more than twelve years of Liberal rule, the 105-member Senate is chock-full of Liberal appointees. There are 65 Liberals sitting in the Red Chamber versus the Conservatives' 23. Additionally, there are three "Progressive Conservative" Senators, one New Democrat, five independents and eight vacancies. Liberal Senators have the power to thwart any Conservative legislation by burying a bill in committee or watering it down with amendments. Should this happen to Bill C-2 it will be a slap in the face to the millions of Canadian voters crying out for the government to change the way business is conducted in the nation's capital.

The Federal Accountability Act is a good piece of legislation. It will change the culture in Ottawa. The goings-on of lobbying, ethical oversight, appointments, government contracts, political party donations, and advertising will be subject to clearer rules and greater transparency.- Taxpayer

Bill C-2, An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability (the Federal Accountability Act) was given first reading in the House of Commons on 11 April 2006. The bill makes a series of amendments to existing legislation and proposes two new Acts, in diverse areas that are generally linked to political accountability. The bill’s short title, the Federal Accountability Act, is the name under which it became known as part of the Conservative Party of Canada’s platform in the January 2006 election campaign. 

Summary of the Federal Accountability Act:

  • Political Financing Reform - reform financing of political parties and ban secret donations to political candidates to ensure influence cannot be bought by political donations and to level the playing field for individual contributors
  • Expanding the Role of the Ethics Commissioner - create a new Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner to administer a new Conflict of Interest Act. The Commissioner will have a judicial or quasi-judicial background and have powers to fine violators and consider public complaints. The Senate Ethics Officer position remains separate.
  • Toughening the Lobbyists Registration Act - establish a new Commissioner of Lobbying with increased investigative and compliance powers to report directly to Parliament, ban contingency fees, and increase penalties for non-compliance
  • Creation of Parliamentary Budget Officer - create a position in the Library of Parliament to provide parliamentary committees with to independent analysis on economic and fiscal issues
  • Improving the Federal Appointments Process - create a Public Appointments Commission in the Prime Minister's portfolio to oversee, monitor, and report on the selection process for appointments to federal government agencies
  • Improving the Federal Government Procurement Process - ensure the procurement process is free of political interference, that a clear complaints process is in place, and provide more opportunities for small vendors and vendors in all regions of Canada
  • Improving Protection for Whistleblowers - expand the mandate of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner and give public-sector whistleblowers financial rewards
  • Strengthening the Power of the Auditor General - give the Auditor General the authority to "follow the money," require all funding recipients to keep records and co-operate with the Auditor General, and require federal departments and agencies to review their grants and contributions programs every five years
  • Strengthening Auditing and Accounting in Departments - clarify the responsibilities of deputy ministers, create a stronger internal audit capacity in federal government departments, and make fraud involving public funds committed by officials an offence with associated maximum prison terms and automatic dismissal for those convicted
  • Creation of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions - outside the Department of Justice, this office would have the independence to conduct prosecutions of offences under federal jurisdiction, including the new fraud provisions. -Canada Online
Which political party did not support the Accountability Act?

Canada is better off with a new culture of getting effective managers in the Federal Government. Accountability is the key in moving forward. Some stakeholders don't like the new rules of being asked to demonstrate how effective the tax dollars are in their organization. Some have been attached to the taxpayer teat for so long they believe their entitlements are  above reproach. The cuts continue into the fake arts programs and the ineffective NGO's.

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