It would be easy to take a look at the report from B.C.’s auditor general for local government and believe that Vernon city hall has significant organizational issues.
After all, the report indicates that of 25 procurement transactions reviewed, eight were in non-compliance with the city’s own policies. Among the most glaring situations were inappropriate expense approvals.
There was also a case of a $35,000 purchase order being issued by staff without a contract or the purchasing department actually being involved.
The AGLG also found that in many cases, the elected members of council abrogated their responsibilities over procurement of goods and services to staff.
All of these are serious cases and are an indication of where even the best-of-intentioned individuals and processes can head in another direction.
However, it’s important to understand that the AGLG audit covers from 2010 to 2012 and that’s three councils ago. Since then, there have been new politicians come into power and a new chief administrative officer has been in place since mid-2012.
The city has also taken a number of measures to improve procurement procedures, including centralized purchasing and electronic purchasing.
While the current city council and administration may have its failings, the matters outlined in the AGLG audit are from another time period.
But that said, city hall should not rest on its laurels and think that it has done everything possible to demonstrate best practices with purchasing goods and services.
All of the recommendations of the auditor general need to be considered, and where possible, implemented to ensure transparency with taxpayers’ dollars.
Current council may have not triggered the need for the audit but where things go in the future is its responsibility.