Auditor General John Noseworthy has found millions of dollars in government mismanagement and public safety concerns as a result of policies not being followed.
On Wednesday, Noseworthy released his annual report on government operations, which examines questionable practices and wasted funds within the provincial bureaucracy.
While the report details sketchy practices in everything from forestry management to real estate regulation Noseworthy was careful to say the issues he uncovered are to be expected in any organization as big as the Newfoundland government.
“Every year we have items that we present for government to consider — issues, deficiencies and non-compliance with established policies,” he said. “I think this is very similar to what we see each year.”
One of the biggest concerns is a systemic failure to follow policies in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, which leaves children more vulnerable to abuse.
Noseworthy also found government officials failing to follow proper policies when hiring hundreds of retired teachers, who draw a pension while they continue to get paid a salary.
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Government failed to provide proper oversight in the fishery and forestry sectors, the report said.
Provincially owned vehicles still under warranty were being taken to local service stations for repairs, and the government has rented cars for so long that it would have been cheaper to buy a car instead.
Noseworthy also reported the province has made virtually no movement on its government broadband initiative, and not enough is being done to clean up contaminated waste sites.
When asked by The Telegram which topics were most concerning, he said that no single issue stands above the rest.
“We don’t usually try to categorize any ahead of others,” Noseworthy said. “They’re all important and they should all be considered by government.”
Finance Minister Tom Marshall said the auditor general’s reports are taken very seriously.
Marshall said the auditor general provides an important service to the government, and pointed out that the government has moved on nearly 90 per cent of past recommendations.
Noseworthy said he is quite pleased the government has been so responsive to his previous reports.
“That’s a really good percentage; we would be pleased with 80, and we’re up around 89 per cent,” he said. “I have to be pleased overall with that.”
Despite that, the government has failed to move on recommendations made on air quality in schools, inspections in the aquaculture industry and a variety of other issues.
In total, 21 recommendations made between 2004 and 2008 have not been satisfactorily enacted, according to Noseworthy.
In total, 79 have been fully implemented, and another 82 have been partially implemented.