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11 janvier 2005
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HANSARD

NOVA SCOTIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

SUBCOMMITTEE

ON

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

COMMITTEE ROOM 1

Setting the Winter Agenda

Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS SUBCOMMITTEE

Mr. Graham Steele (Chairman)

Mr. James DeWolfe (Vice-Chairman)

Mr. Daniel Graham

In Attendance:

Ms. Mora Stevens

Public Accounts Committee Clerk

Mr. Roy Salmon

Auditor General

[Page 1]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2005

SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

1:00 P.M.

CHAIRMAN

Mr. Graham Steele

MR. CHAIRMAN: I'd like to call to order this meeting of the Public Accounts Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedures. The main objective of the meeting today is to set a schedule at least tentatively that will take us through to approximately the end of March and there are a couple of other relatively minor items on the agenda. One thing that I would like to add to the agenda myself is a brief discussion on the role that this committee might like to have in the selection of a new Auditor General.

Perhaps we could start by asking Mora to outline what we have booked already and then the committee can start its discussion of what else it wants to book. Mora.

MS. MORA STEVENS (Legislative Committees Clerk): On January 12th, which is tomorrow, the Auditor General is coming in with his staff to discuss the December 2004 report. On January 19th there is a briefing session scheduled for the audit that was done on Tourism, Culture and Heritage as well as any other items that might be chosen today from an AG report that they might be able to brief on on January 19th. January 26th is Tourism, Culture and Heritage coming in. On February 2nd the Department of Community Services, Affordable Housing Program. They are updating from the last time they were here. Then I skip down to February 23rd, the Department of Health and Doctors Nova Scotia concerning medical billing.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mora, were these all things that we had decided on in the past?

MS. STEVENS: Yes.

MR. GRAHAM: Okay.

[Page 2]

1

MS. STEVENS: These are from the September 14th subcommittee meeting agenda which was ratified, I think, on September 19th by the committee.

MR. GRAHAM: I'm having a brain cramp about Tourism in particular.

MS. STEVENS: It's the audit that was done in the June 2004 report and it was put on the agenda by the government members.

MR. DEWOLFE: I can't remember this health care regarding . . .

MS. STEVENS: It's Department of Health and Doctors Nova Scotia on medical billing and it was put on by the NDP. If you remember last time, the top three from each caucus list was taken.

MR. DEWOLFE: Can you just expand on that to say who would be invited?

MS. STEVENS: The Deputy Minister of Health is coming with her senior staff to speak about it and Doctors Nova Scotia - which is formerly the Medical Society - the Chief Executive Officer . . .

MR. DEWOLFE: They are not called that anymore? They are called Doctors Nova Scotia?

MS. STEVENS: They are called Doctors Nova Scotia now.

MR. DEWOLFE: Doctors within our border.

MS. STEVENS: Yes. (Laughter) They are coming with their Chief Executive Officer, Doug Clarke, and some of his staff.

MR. GRAHAM: Mora, these were all top three items of our top three lists the last time?

MS. STEVENS: Yes.

MR. GRAHAM: Okay, thanks.

MS. STEVENS: I'm just going through and I'm near the end of what was approved from the last subcommittee and approved by the Public Accounts Committee.

MR. DEWOLFE: So what happens between February 2nd and February 23rd there? You just haven't got that filled yet?

[Page 3]

MS. STEVENS: I had actually Health and Doctors Nova Scotia on February 9th but they had to change and I'm running out of agenda items.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, so let's move on then to possible agenda items. As we do that, what I would like to do is ask you to turn to this list here. The Trade Centre Limited topic, I believe, was originally proposed by the NDP caucus and that's, although always an interesting topic, no longer a priority for us. So you should take the other list that I have provided today as being our current list of priorities although that particular list is not in priority order, if you follow me. These are our priorities but not necessarily our priorities one to seven. My point being that the Trade Centre Limited is no longer one of our priorities. Danny, did you have a comment about the MRI topic?

MR. GRAHAM: Well, it's an oscillating one. Since I spoke to you last, Mr. Chairman, I have had a chance to confer with caucus colleagues and it still would be the desire of the Liberal caucus to have the Deputy Minister of Health appear on the MRI question.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, that's fine. So that will be on the list. I don't have . . .

MR. GRAHAM: As far as priority, I don't want to rank it in priority, necessarily, in relation to anything else.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, so let me ask you this. What would be the top two or three items on the Liberal priority list?

MR. GRAHAM: I think the first item that is at the top of the list that you have there, the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation and Office of Health Promotion, in particular John LaRocque who is the Director of Addiction Services, I believe, with the Office of Health Promotion. NSBI I think is fair to say would be the next priority. I would be interested in finding out more about the thoughts of others concerning Chapter 2, Government Financial Reporting and the AG's report in particular. That is of interest. It was of interest to others in the past and, as I mentioned, the MRI issue.

MR. DEWOLFE: The MRI is at the bottom of your list, is it?

MR. GRAHAM: In relation to those but I would, of all the potential suggestions, I would consider it still high up but of the priority items, it probably has the lower priority.

MR. DEWOLFE: So we are not really discussing these at this point. You are just laying them out.

[2:15 p.m.]

[Page 4]

MR. CHAIRMAN: What would be on the priority list of the PC caucus?

MR. DEWOLFE: Well, again, I think the issue is arising from the work of the Auditor General.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Do you have particular items you want to . . .

MR. DEWOLFE: I do not, other than the ones that we put forward before. We traditionally try to highlight issues, pursue issues that the Auditor General brought to our attention and use the AG's report as a guide. I would think it is the most appropriate non-partisan way to select witnesses and issues for discussion. Having said that, the Auditor General did come and present this report and I think we should follow along with it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you. As usual, we don't have any perfect overlap between the three caucuses. We just have topics that are probably proposed directly or indirectly by two caucuses. The first one that I would like to suggest is the topic of the Gaming Corporation with the Office of Health Promotion and it seems to me that it would be useful to have the Gaming Foundation there as well.

MR. GRAHAM: You could invite, along with Mr. LaRocque, Hubert Devine, who is the Chairman of the Gaming Foundation or Ray MacNeil who is the Executive Director or something like that of the Gaming Foundation.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Let me suggest . . .

MR. DEWOLFE: Could I just ask a question, Mr. Chairman?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Sure.

MR. DEWOLFE: Is this your priority? Are you going priority, because you are jumping down your list.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Right and remember I said that that list is not in order of priority.

MR. DEWOLFE: So I'm asking a question here.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I would be happy with any of these topics.

MR. DEWOLFE: Oh, okay. This is not your number one priority.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No.

MR. DEWOLFE: All right, thank you.

[Page 5]

MR. CHAIRMAN: My suggestion for you, normally when we invite an organization, we leave it up to them to decide who to send. Normally, they will send the person in a leadership position. If we specifically want an individual and we want to be insistent that that individual attend, even though they are not necessarily the organization's leader, then we would have to say so. It's an unusual thing, not unheard of, but it would be unusual for us to specify the individual that we want to hear from.

MR. GRAHAM: I don't think it needs to be restricted to Mr. LaRocque. I think that there could be other people. He is the Director of Addictions and a central conduit, as I understand it, with the Gaming Foundation. I would like for Mr. LaRocque to be identified as one of those.

MR. CHAIRMAN: And that is from the Office of Health Promotion . . .

MR. GRAHAM: That's right.

MR. CHAIRMAN: And from the Gaming Foundation, whoever they wanted to send.

MR. GRAHAM: Yes. I would be fine with whoever they wanted. I imagine they would send either Mr. MacNeil or Mr. Devine or both.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay. Do you have any objection to that topic, Jim?

MR. DEWOLFE: The subcommittee put this topic on hold the last time, isn't that correct?

MR. GRAHAM: Perhaps, Jim, I can just give you an update on things since we put it on hold and things that have changed.

MR. DEWOLFE: Okay.

MR. GRAHAM: Since we spoke, for example, $4 million that was with the Gaming Foundation, there has been a new agreement signed to identify different priorities than what that original agreement had been for the $4 million. So, for example, one of the things to explore is the specific priorities identified for money originally that has changed in the time since this committee last considered this.

MR. DEWOLFE: Is this an overlap with the NDP?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes. So, should we put that one on? There is one topic that seems to be common to all of us and that is Chapter 2 of the Auditor General's Report. This is, I would call it the fairly standard Chapter 2, which is issues relating to government-wide financial reporting. It's been mentioned by Danny and Jim, I know that your preference is

[Page 6]

that we focus on chapters of the Auditor General's Report as a topic of interest to us. So can we all agree that that should be one of our topics on topics within Chapter 2 of the Auditor General's Report?

MR. DEWOLFE: Yes, I guess I have say in the last session members had ample opportunity to respond and quiz the department on that issue. I'd hate to bring the department in just to satisfy what might be a partisan interest.

MR. GRAHAM: It's one that fits your criteria, nonetheless, and in some respects, Jim, fits it most squarely because it's so general and it has to do with the integrity of the overall system.

MR. SALMON: Mr. Chairman, I'd like to just briefly speak to that topic. I think it is a valid topic for the committee to consider as a priority, particularly the aspects of the government systems that relate to the new SAP system, which is financial controls. That would be very useful background if, down the road, you want to get into this recent fraud case.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I was hoping to get into that fraud case earlier than just a bit down the road. I appreciate that observation. I think we have some consensus on that. I appreciate what you're saying, Jim, but you've said that the best nonpartisan way to choose topics is from the Auditor General's Report, and we're proposing a chapter from the Auditor General's Report.

MR. DEWOLFE: Yes.

MR. CHAIRMAN: So I assume that we can all agree on that.

MR. DEWOLFE: I was just wondering where everyone was coming from on it, just so it's clear to me.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, Mora.

MS. STEVENS: So is this bringing the AG in on that report, as well as the Department of Finance, two meetings or one meeting all together?

MR. CHAIRMAN: That would be one meeting.

MR. DEWOLFE: The AG will be here anyway.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There might be a prior briefing that includes Chapter 2, but that particular topic would be one topic for the Department of Finance.

[Page 7]

MS. STEVENS: Okay.

MR. GRAHAM: I thought it was the AG who was coming in, you're suggesting the AG and the Department of Finance?

MR. CHAIRMAN: No, that's what Mora said. I'm suggesting the Department of Finance comes in, and in the normal course, as we normally do, we would have a prior in camera briefing from the Auditor General on this and any other topic from his report that we choose.

Since the committee only has three people, and one has stepped out for a moment, I think I'll just call a brief recess. I don't want to transact any business in his absence.

[The committee recessed at 2:22 p.m.]

[The committee reconvened at 2:23 p.m.]

MR. CHAIRMAN: We'll resume the meeting. I would like to explain to the committee members what I have in mind when I talk about the Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations fraud case. I have distributed to members a package of material relating to the documents filed in civil court by the government, which includes a statement of claim and an affidavit, and I see the clerk has added the news release and a few articles. It seems to me to be a significant event when the front-page headline in the newspaper is a fraud, which, if the allegations are true, totals hundreds of thousands of dollars and goes over the course of at least seven years and maybe longer.

My idea here is not so much, exactly, that we be briefed on that individual case, because I don't really see the utility of that, but more that we be informed about what this means for the rest of government. If the allegations are true, it seems to have been very easy: a refund clerk wrote cheques to her husband without any supporting documentation, over many years, totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's not supposed to be that easy. Since the Public Accounts Committee has oversight over the way government money is spent, it just seemed to me to be a good idea for us to be as informed as we can be about what this implies for the rest of government operations.

Now, I'm aware that there are some sensitivities around the fact that there's a court case and there may be a criminal charge or not, but I've never believed that that's not a reason for members of the Legislature to inform themselves, but it is a reason for them to be careful about how they do it. It might be an appropriate circumstance, for example, to have a briefing in camera. So that's my thought in putting it on the list. Any comments, observations?

[Page 8]

MR. GRAHAM: I have a question for the Auditor General. I would agree with all that you've said, but I'm not particularly informed about accounting procedures and I'm left wondering whether or not, in the normal course, checks and balances should have been able to find these at face value, without knowing anything about this particular case. Undoubtedly people can commit frauds in smaller amounts over shorter periods of time when they have access to cash. This is a large amount over a long period of time. We would like to think that that's catchable, but perhaps it's not, perhaps it's just so vast out there in government land that we can't.

MR. SALMON: We're back to what I spoke to previously, which is the SAP system, which has been in the process of implementation, back to 1997. My understanding, based on the work that my staff has done, and we've reported on it publicly, is that the system is designed to have adequate controls. The issue is how those controls are implemented on a department-by-department basis. We've raised that issue of concern, because it is a computer system. Somebody in a department sits down in front of a computer and inputs information that results in the production of a cheque by the Department of Finance. Those cheques are then physically delivered back to the department to be mailed to the recipients.

So you have to have adequate control and security over the input of the information to generate the cheque, and you have to have adequate control over the cheques when they come back. As I understand it in this particular case, from what we've been able to determine, somehow this individual was able - after getting an approved list of cheques to be issued, approved by her superior - to add additional names to the list. Somehow, then, that information was input through the computer, and cheques were produced. When the cheques came back, as I understand it, she was able to pull out the cheques that were addressed to her husband, and the rest were mailed to the legitimate recipients. That's my understanding based on the information we have so far.

That's a breakdown in control at both ends of the system, the input and the receipt of the cheques. We've pointed out these deficiencies to the Department of Finance in our reports and in discussions with them, and raised those types of concerns. As I say, it is not a system design issue, it's an implementation issue.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. CHAIRMAN: What I'd like to propose is that we could have a session with the Auditor General and with a representative of the Corporate Internal Audit division of the Department of Finance and a representative of Service Nova Scotia, perhaps in camera, if that's thought to be most appropriate. The purpose of the session is to inform the committee about what happened here and, more importantly, to offer whatever assurances can be offered that this sort of thing can't happen again.

[Page 9]

MR. SALMON: I'm not sure that the witness from Finance should be the Corporate Internal Audit division. It might be more appropriate to have the systems people.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, so that's what I'm proposing to the other subcommittee members, that we have one session that is about this topic, not just with Service Nova Scotia, but with the other people who are responsible for the systems that are supposed to be designed to catch this sort of thing.

MR. SALMON: You have an excellent witness from Service Nova Scotia at the ADM level who is the former Controller of the province from the Department of Finance.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Who's that?

MR. SALMON: Kevin Malloy.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Kevin Malloy, okay, thank you. So we can certainly suggest in Nova Scotia that Kevin should be included there. Do the subcommittee members agree that, by its nature, it's a sort of session that ought to be held in camera?

MR. GRAHAM: It depends on the degree to which there would be reference to the case in question. I am pretty sensitive to the notion that too much detailed information about this particular case creates the potential of confusion for the courts. I'm not sure if any statement by any witnesses couldn't be accessed. I suspect they still could be accessed by the parties to the litigation, themselves. So if, for example, a government official appeared here and was able to speak to this particular case, anything he or she might say could be used as a prior inconsistent statement in . . .

MR. CHAIRMAN: No, I don't think that is the case.

MR. GRAHAM: No?

MR. CHAIRMAN: That's not the case, no.

MR. GRAHAM: There's that kind of a blanket? Boy, is this impressive. (Laughter)

MR. CHAIRMAN: In fact, in a previous case where a lawyer proposed to do exactly that, the Office of Legislative Counsel intervened and made sure that it didn't happen, that everybody involved understood what the law of parliamentary privilege really is. In the end result, the proceedings before the committee were, in fact, not used. That was the Casino case, the Ralph Fiske case.

[Page 10]

MR. GRAHAM: Okay, I take that back. I'm generally reluctant to go in camera . It would be a shame if we dealt with nothing concerning this case and we were in camera the whole time on this issue.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, let's leave it open then.

MR. DEWOLFE: You didn't ask my opinion but, okay, if you want to leave it open at this point.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I think, leave it open but we have to be prepared, depending on which way the hearing goes, we have to be prepared to go in camera. I would suggest that it would be most appropriate for that particular session to be held here, actually.

MR. DEWOLFE: I think it should be in camera.

MR. CHAIRMAN: You think the whole thing should be in camera, just to avoid any possibility of problems?

MR. DEWOLFE: Yes. I don't want to turn on any lights of wisdom for criminal activity, if they find out, well, this is an easy way to extract money. It may not be from government but it might be in private companies and industry. A lot of people out there are willing to take a chance and embezzle. It amazes me.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I'll tell you what I'll do. As chairman, I will consult with the Office of Legislative Counsel, see what advice they have and I will advise the committee. We should go ahead and schedule it but we will have to revisit this issue at some point in the future because certainly, when Danny was talking, I agreed with him and when Jim was talking, I agreed with him, so I'm not sure where we will end up.

So the next topic. I'm always interested in the NSBI topic and I noticed it is a chapter in the Auditor General's latest report. However, we did go over this topic fairly recently with the Office of Economic Development, which I realize is not Nova Scotia Business Inc. If I had to set a priority I personally would choose Chapter 7 over that chapter. That's the one of Pharmacare and other drug programs. Since it's a chapter in the Auditor General's Report, Jim, I assume that you wouldn't object to that.

MR. DEWOLFE: No.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Danny, what about you?

MR. GRAHAM: I don't have a problem with it. I think that NSBI, nonetheless, should be put somewhere in the hopper, on the list as an improved item.

[Page 11]

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, I can agree with that as well. Although, if I were giving any direction to the clerk, it would be that if we end up at the point of having to choose, I would pick Pharmacare over NSBI, but I am quite happy to include both.

MR. GRAHAM: Yes, okay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Jim, since they are both chapters in the Auditor General's Report, I assume you don't have a problem with that?

MR. DEWOLFE: Yes, great.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay. So that's two more topics. That, frankly, should take us to the end of March, looking at the number of open spaces we have and taking into account the fact that we will have to have at least one briefing session from the Auditor General. I think that's probably enough.

What would the committee members like to do next week? We could ask the Auditor General to give us the in camera briefing next week for - I think we picked, so far, three chapters from the latest report. Does that sound like a reasonable thing to do next week? Roy, what do you think?

MR. SALMON: I was confused earlier. I thought I heard something about Tourism on January 19th.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, that's from the June 2004 report.

MR. SALMON: We could brief on that or we could brief on one of these other topics.

MR. GRAHAM: You were talking about doubling up.

MR. CHAIRMAN: At least doubling up, maybe tripling.

MR. SALMON: Yes, okay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: What if we did the briefing on Tourism, Culture and Heritage from the June 2004 report and, also, Chapters 2 and 7? Would that be reasonable to ask you to brief on three chapters?

MR. SALMON: Yes, we would have to condense it but we could allocate the time.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I felt the last time that your office did three in one session, that it worked very well. It moved along very nicely.

[Page 12]

MR. SALMON: So Tourism, Chapter 3 and Chapter 7.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No, Tourism, Chapter 2 and Chapter 7.

MR. SALMON: Oh, Government Financial Reporting.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes.

MR. SALMON: And Chapter 3.

MS. STEVENS: No, Chapter 7.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, what we had agreed on was Chapter 2 and you talked about . . .

MR. SALMON: Chapter 3.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Do they kind of go together, Chapters 2 and 3?

MR. SALMON: No.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No, not at all. Completely unrelated to each other.

MR. SALMON: Well, one is the system side and other is the external reporting side.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I know that Danny and I are interested in the government-wide financial reporting in the sense of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and that kind of thing.

MR. SALMON: Right, okay. So Tourism, Chapter 2 and . . .

MS. STEVENS: Chapter 7.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I'm hesitating here because it would be better if we got a briefing on Chapter 3 which might, as you suggested, lay the foundation for future work, not just in Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations but other topics as well.

MR. SALMON: Right.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Does that sound reasonable to the subcommittee members if we do that? Yes.

MR. SALMON: So Tourism, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3.

[Page 13]

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, and that would be next week at 9:00 a.m. here in the committee room?

MR. SALMON: Yes, okay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I understand that on January 26th, which is two weeks from today, we have to make an effort to break early because of a swearing in of a person taking on a new Cabinet position, which I understand starts at 11:00 a.m.

MR. DEWOLFE: They want all in attendance in their seats at 10:30 a.m. so that means at 10:00 a.m., we have to leave here to get down there.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Well the session would be over in the Legislature. Where is the swearing in, in the Red Room?

MR. DEWOLFE: I think it's down at Pier 21.

MR. CHAIRMAN; Oh, at Pier 21, okay. In that case, yes, you're right. Would there be any objection that day to having an 8:00 a.m. start?

MR. DEWOLFE: That would be terrific for our people.

MR. CHAIRMAN: That's the session with Tourism, Culture and Heritage. Danny, any objection to that?

MR. GRAHAM: None.

MR. CHAIRMAN: 8:00 a.m. start? Agreed.

MR. DEWOLFE: Thank you, everyone.

MR. GRAHAM: We might just do a special flag to those not in attendance, or we can remind them tomorrow.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is an outstanding item on our list that had been raised by Diana Whalen about the possibility of moving the committee day.

MR. GRAHAM: We spoke about that today and it's no longer an issue.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Let's just leave that off our agenda for future, then. I think we've dealt with everything except the topic that I wanted to add to the agenda. Before we move, though, let me just make sure, is there anything else anybody wants to say on topics, on

[Page 14]

setting of the agenda? You will recall that this will be done up by the clerk in a form of a report to the full committee and we'll have a report on it to the full committee tomorrow.

Okay, if there's nothing else on the subject of agenda setting, let me raise, very briefly, the topic of the role that members see for the full committee in the selection of a new Auditor General.

I understand that some early steps are being taken by the government to devise a process that is satisfactory to all the Parties, however, over and beyond that, the Auditor General's main point of contact with the Legislature is this committee and if this committee wants to assert itself as having a particular role in the process, then the earlier we do that, the better. Does anybody have any thoughts on what role this committee should have in the selection of a new Auditor General?

Maybe while Danny and Jim are thinking about that I will ask you, Roy, what role do you think the committee should have?

MR. SALMON: Again, I would suggest that that would depend on what process is put in place. The discussions that have taken place so far have been around the process that was followed back in 1991-92, when I ended up in the job. That process was designed with the major objective being that the process be totally non-partisan and, in fact, it was a process that involved a search committee that was established, totally outside of government.

There were two very senior representatives from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia and a senior representative of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society. They formed a search committee. They appointed a consulting firm to carry out a national search. The consulting firm created a short list of candidates, and the search committee interviewed the candidates. The search committee recommended one name to the Premier, who then consulted with the Leaders of the two Opposition Parties, with regard to the acceptability of that individual and the appointment was made.

If that process was followed, I could see that at a stage in that process, before the recommendation is made by the search committee, that there could be consultation with the Public Accounts Committee over the individual, in fact, a review of whatever number of candidates were on the short list, and the background discussed, and the Public Accounts Committee have a voice in influencing the search committee on that recommendation.

I wouldn't see the Public Accounts Committee getting involved at the beginning of the process, other than perhaps being comfortable with the people who formed the search committee.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Danny.

[Page 15]

MR. GRAHAM: I have no difficulty with that sentiment. It seems to have worked in the past, it seems to be a sensible one. It does include us, which was about the only substantive comment I could add, not having been around this in the past. It has the potential to include us both at the front and the back end, but not in a controlling or distracting way.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Jim.

MR. DEWOLFE: I agree. I think it seems to be a fair, non-partisan process and I agree with Danny's sentiments on it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I do think it would be useful at some point for this committee to turn its mind to what we think the successful candidate's qualities ought to be, that if we don't assert that role, we'll end up having a minor role in the process, or no role. As the main point of interaction between the Legislature and the Auditor General, I just think that we should take every advantage that we can to assert our role.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SALMON: I support that. I believe that's appropriate, and it does take place in other jurisdictions. This was a unique, one-time process that Don Cameron put in place. It was new, it had not been followed previously, and one of the issues was previous appointments were very partisan.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Any other comments on that? Are there any other topics that the members of the subcommittee want to raise today before we leave? Mora, have we left anything off, is there anything else we need to discuss, anything that's not clear in your mind?

MS. STEVENS: No, I think I'm good.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, with the Auditor General.

The meeting is adjourned.

[The committee adjourned at 2:47 p.m.]