The AG presents the concert scandal report to Council

Larry Munroe, HRM Auditor General, walked us through the Executive Summary of the Concert Scandal report.

First big remark was “CAO and DCAO could not have made these disbursements happen on their own.”

One of the first of fifty recommendations – HRM must end its corporate culture of “not my responsibility” leads to lack of accountability & followup. Halifax Council Audit and Finance committee should review soft controls in the organization.

When the CAO delegates a task it is still CAO’s responsibility.  Lack of role clarity is pervasive throughout the findings of this report.

The OAG recommends formal written policy on ethics and ethics training, for staff and councillors.

HRM would benefit for clear discussion between oversight by council, and day to day active management.  This seems to indicate the OAG found council & the Mayor starting to interfere in operational matters.

For the Metro Centre, specific levels of authority, performance measure, reporting requirements, details for compensation need to be included in the management agreement between HRM and Trade Centre Limited in regards to the Metro Centre.  HRM administration needs stated and approved guidelines for where and when to engage TCL board.  OAG recommends a yearly structured discussion around structured risk between TCL and HRM.

The big money issue is the commingled funds – HRM, Metro Centre, TCL mixed together.  OAG has recommended any money going in and out HMC should be for HMC operations ONLY, any other use requires Council approval. This is a huge change, where the CAO had been drawing on Metro Centre funds to the tune of millions to loan to Power Promotional Events.

In the good new column, immediate steps have been taken to implement changes already by the management at TCL.  He later said “we had the complete cooperation of Trade Centre” Good for TCL. Good for Halifax.”

In one of the most direct rebukes, OAG says that HRM legal needs to provide clarity around what “approved to form” means.  AG recommended council get independent legal council making recommendations regarding in house legal services.  He also recommends establishment of a Chief Risk Officer.
Clear as day, Munroe states “Senior individuals took actions outside the Charter or normal business practices.”

He closed by saying that as HRM gained experience in concerts, we didn’t change our management of the risks, and that there was no transparent reporting of these risks. “What we started out to do was to be a concert venue. We were going to rent a piece of land.”  We ended up much more involved than that.

Full report should be on the AG website after lunch, more then.

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