Archived – Audit of the Salmon Sub-Committee Contribution Program

Archived information

The Standard on Web Usability replaces this content. This content is archived because Common Look and Feel 2.0 Standards have been rescinded.

Archived information is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Project Number 6B202
Final Audit Report
JANUARY 7, 2010

Table of Contents

List of Acronyms

DFO
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
IP
Implementation Plan
PAD
Program Approval Documentation
PTP
Policy on Transfer Payments
SSC
Salmon Sub-Committee
TBS
Treasury Board Secretariat
UFA
Umbrella Final Agreement

 

1.0 Executive Summary

1.1 Introduction

In May, 1993, an Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) was entered into as part of a Comprehensive Yukon Land Claims Settlement.  The signatories to this agreement were the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs on behalf of Canada, the Government Leader of the Yukon and the Chair of the Council for Yukon Indians.  

Under the UFA, the Fish and Wildlife Management Board was established as the primary instrument of Fish and Wildlife Management in the Yukon.  Also under the UFA, a sub-committee of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, the Salmon Sub-Committee (SSC), was established as the main instrument of salmon management in the Yukon.  The SSC was previously referred to as the Yukon Salmon Committee. However, as a result of the 2007 Implementation Review, it was recommended and accepted by all parties that the committee be known as the SSC. The SSC may make recommendations to the Minister and to Yukon First Nations on all matters related to Salmon, their habitats and management, including Legislation, research, policies, and programs.

The SSC is funded through an annual contribution from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The Program is due for renewal at the end of fiscal year 2009-10 and the audit of the SSC Program was included in the Multi-Year Risk-based Audit Plan given that the conduct of an audit engagement was a condition of renewal.

1.2 Objectives and Scope

The objectives of the audit were as follows:

  • To provide assurance that the departmental management control framework for the SSC contribution is in place, appropriate and functioning.
  • To determine compliance with terms and conditions of the contribution program, regulatory policies and procedures for controlling transfer payments.

The audit engagement covered the 2005-06 to 2009-10 fiscal years. The audit work included detailed file review, document review and interviews with both program and finance officials. All payments made to the SSC in the 2005-06 to 2008-09 fiscal years were reviewed due to the limited number of transactions. 

1.3 Statement of Assurance

In our opinion, the auditors have examined sufficient, relevant evidence and obtained sufficient information and explanations to provide sufficient assurance on the reported opinion or conclusions.

1.4 Summary of Observations and Recommendations

The SSC Program is generally managed and administered in compliance with terms and conditions of the Program and the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on Transfer Payments and the Financial Administration Act. The audit engagement examined the management control framework in place for the Program and noted some deficiencies, which program management had already begun to address. The UFA provides the foundation on which the Program is based. However, the audit identified terms and conditions in the current Program Approval Documentation (PAD) which were not in line with the provisions of the UFA.  The renewal of the Program will provide an opportunity to amend the PAD to bring the Program in line with the requirements of the UFA.  It is recommended that:

  • The Regional Director General, Pacific, ensure, in the renewal of the contribution program, that the Program Approval Documentation is in accordance with the provisions of the Umbrella Final Agreement. (High significance) 

2.0 Introduction

2.1 Background

In May, 1993, the Umbrella Final Agreement (UFA) was entered into as part of the Comprehensive Yukon Land Claims Settlement.  The signatories to this agreement were the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs on behalf of Canada, the Government Leader of the Yukon and the Chair of the Council for Yukon Indians.  

Under the UFA, the Fish and Wildlife Management Board was established as the primary instrument of Fish and Wildlife Management in the Yukon.  Also under the UFA, a sub-committee of the Fish and Wildlife Management Board, the Salmon Sub-Committee (SSC) was established as the main instrument of salmon management in the Yukon.  The SSC may make recommendations to the Minister and to Yukon First Nations on all matters related to Salmon, their habitats and management, including Legislation, research, policies and programs.

The SSC is comprised of members from all parts of the Yukon and represent both First Nation and non-First Nation populations.  The composition of the Committee is laid out in the UFA and is carefully structured to ensure diversity and balance.  SSC members are nominated by the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and the First Nations of the Alsek, Porcupine and Yukon River drainage basins.

As stipulated by the UFA, DFO provides technical and administrative support to the SSC, as required, to determine appropriate plans for Salmon management.  A senior DFO official in the Yukon (Pacific Region) serves in the capacity as Executive Secretary to the SSC.

In May 1993, DFO established a contribution program for the SSC for implementing responsibilities pursuant to the Comprehensive Land Claim Settlements.  Since its inception, the SSC has been funded by an annual contribution from DFO.  The following table depicts the annual expenditures by the SSC for the period covered by the audit’s detailed file review:

2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 Total

$202,100

$174,545

$210,085

$194,025

$780,755

Top of page

2.2 Objectives and Scope

2.2.1 Objectives

The objectives of the audit were as follows:

  • To provide assurance that the departmental management control framework for the SSC contributions is in place, appropriate and functioning.
  • To determine compliance with terms and conditions of the contribution program, regulatory policies and procedures for controlling transfer payments.

2.2.2 Scope

The audit engagement covered the 2005-06 to 2009-10 fiscal years. The audit work included detailed file review, document review and interviews with both program and finance officials. All payments made to the SSC in the 2005-06 to 2008-09 fiscal years were reviewed due to the limited number of transactions. 

2.3 Methodology

The audit team carried out its engagement in accordance with the Government of Canada Internal Auditing Standards, as set out in the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on Internal Audit (TBS PTP).  The engagement included interviews with departmental officials responsible for the development and implementation of the Program as well as an examination of the Program documentation.  Detailed file review was conducted to provide assurance related to the processes utilized to certify payments and the compliance with applicable policies and the terms and conditions of the Program. 

Top of page

3.0 Observations and Recommendations

The following sections present observations on the effectiveness of the SSC contribution Program management control framework and on compliance with regulatory policies and procedures.

To assist management in preparing its management action plan, the audit recommendations have been labelled according to the following three categories to reflect their degree of importance:

  • High significance – major control weaknesses and/or unacceptably high level of risk;
  • Medium significance – control weakness affecting operational efficiency and/or credibility; and
  • Low significance – control or process weakness contributing to inefficiency.

As the Program Approval Documentation (PAD) expires March 31, 2010 and the Program is subject to renewal, observations, recommendations and the management action plan in this report have been developed to strengthen the renewal of the PAD.

3.1 Management Control Framework

The management control framework currently in place has some deficiencies. However, program management has taken action to address these issues, and improvements have been noted.

A management control framework is understood as the suite of controls management has put in place to enable the administration of contribution programs. Controls are “any action taken by management, the board, and other parties to manage the risk and increase the likelihood that established objectives and goals will be achieved. Management plans, organizes and directs the performance of sufficient actions to provide reasonable assurance that objectives and goals will be achieved”[1]. For the SSC, those objectives and goals are defined in the UFA.

The activities of the SSC are governed by the UFA; as such, the PAD must reflect these activities. The UFA (s.16.7.17.12) lists the activities that the SSC may undertake. These activities include seeking input from Councils or the public and making recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and to Yukon First Nations on all matters related to Salmon, their habitats and management in the Yukon. However, the PAD includes activities that are operational in nature, which are contrary to the advisory role set out in the UFA. As well, the UFA restricts SSC activities to matters relating to salmon management in the Yukon, while the PAD allows for participation in international meetings without restrictions. As a result of the PAD not being in accordance with the UFA provisions, the annual contribution agreements funded SSC activities that were not in accordance with the UFA provisions.

Roles and responsibilities for the Program were not clearly defined. The UFA states that an Executive Secretary, appointed by DFO, is to “provide technical and administrative support to the SSC, as required, to determine appropriate plans for Salmon management.” Due to the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Secretary not being clearly defined, the technical and administrative support provided to the SSC exceeded the requirements of the UFA. The Executive Secretary has prepared budgets for the SSC despite the UFA Implementation Plan (IP) stating that the SSC “shall prepare an annual budget and submit it to the Fish and Wildlife Management Board for approval by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.” Other administrative activities performed by the Executive Secretary for the SSC included bookkeeping and bill payment. The 2007 Implementation Review of the UFA (s.8.3.6) states that “the SSC has not been operating according to the administrative provisions of the UFA and UFA IP.”

During the period under review, improvements to the management of the Program have been implemented. To address the discrepancies in the administrative provisions of the UFA, the SSC is now in the process of hiring an individual to perform the budget, bookkeeping and bill payment activities. Also, contribution agreements are now more clear and concise and have evolved to contain more detail. For example, as compared to earlier agreements, the 2008-09 contribution agreement clearly detailed the number and types of meetings the SSC is to hold, and the meetings were aligned with provisions of the UFA. In addition, DFO has taken steps to work with SSC board members so that their activities may be aligned with the UFA. Finally, in an effort to ensure both parties clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, DFO has engaged the SSC in clarifying the roles and responsibilities for the Department, the Executive Secretary and the SSC.

Recommendation (High significance):

  • The Regional Director General, Pacific, ensure, in the renewal of the contribution program, that the Program Approval Documentation is in accordance with the provisions of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

3.2 Compliance

The administration of the contribution Program complies with terms and conditions of the Program, regulatory policies and procedures for controlling transfer payments, with minor exceptions that did not pose a significant risk.

Payments are generally in compliance with policies and procedures, with minor exceptions noted in the early years of the scope of the audit. Management had taken the necessary actions to address these exceptions.

Contribution agreements were put in place on a yearly basis for the SSC program. All agreements analyzed contained the basic provisions required by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Policy on Transfer Payments.

SSC contribution agreements contained all clauses listed in the terms and conditions of the SSC Contribution Program, with the exception of the clause for application and approval procedures which did not pose a significant risk to the Program.

Recommendation:

  • As no major deficiencies posing significant risk to the Program were identified, no recommendation is required.

Top of page

4.0 General Conclusion

The management control framework in place contained some deficiencies, which program management had already begun to address. The SSC contribution program is generally managed and administered in compliance with the terms and conditions of the Program and the TBS PTP. The renewal of the Program will provide an opportunity to amend the PAD to bring the Program in line with the requirements of the UFA. 

5.0 Management Action Plan

Recommendation Management Action Plan Status Report Update
Actions Completed Actions Outstanding Target Date

The Regional Director General, Pacific, ensure, in the renewal of the contribution program, that the Program Approval Documentation is in accordance with the provisions of the Umbrella Final Agreement. (High significance) 

Area, Regional, and Headquarters staff collaborate to develop Terms and Conditions (T&C) for the Program Approval Documentation (PAD) that are consistent with the Umbrella Final Agreement.

 

 

Initial:
December 31, 2009

Revised:


1The Institute of Internal Auditors, International Professional Practices Framework, January 2009, p. 40.