News October 19, 2012

Standing Committee on Government Operations Focuses on Accountability

YELLOWKNIFE (October 19, 2012) – The number one goal of the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Government Operations is to improve government oversight and accountability, with the intent of improving services to people.

“In the past, Government Operations has been reactive, rather than proactive,” said committee chair Michael Nadli. “Now we intend to interpret our mandate more broadly and expand our work, focusing on accountability issues.”

Added deputy chair Wendy Bisaro, “We want the public to be aware of what we do, and to feel free to approach us and provide advice. The reason we work to make the government account for its spending and performance is to make life better for people in the NWT.”

Last February, the Auditor General of Canada identified three government-wide barriers to good program management in the Northwest Territories:

Inadequate information to manage programs and make decisions;
Insufficient monitoring of third-party program delivery; and,
An absence of detailed action plans clearly setting out how and when organizations intend to implement recommendations made in audit reports.
The standing committee applies the guiding principles of transparency, measurability, and accountability in looking for coordinated improvements across departments to address these gaps. The committee is pleased that Premier Robert R. McLeod and his Cabinet have recognized the need for a coordinated approach to these challenges.

“We are the ‘eagles’ for the ministers,” said committee member Norman Yakeleya. “We look for efficiencies and best practices, and let them know if we see problems.” 

The standing committee met in Yellowknife on April 26 to begin developing their mission statement, guiding principles, and work plan for the next three years. The committee reaffirmed its top priorities today, and is pleased to report progress as follows: 

An ombudsman for the NWT. The committee supports the establishment of an ombudsman as one mechanism of public input and accountability. On June 6, the Legislative Assembly voted to recommend legislation to establish an independent parliamentary ombudsman office for the NWT. On October 17, the government responded that the matter is under review. The committee intends to follow this issue and, further, will look into the broader concept of a Government Accountability Office.
Review of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy (ATIPP) Act. In its review of the 2010-11 Information and Privacy Commissioner’s annual report, the committee recommended that the GNWT undertake a comprehensive review of the Act. On October 17, the government responded that it supports the committee’s recommendation for a comprehensive review of the ATIPP Act and expects to complete this in the life of the 17th Assembly. The committee is pleased with this progress, and will continue to follow the issue closely.
Recommendation of programs to the GNWT Program Review Office and the Auditor General of Canada for review. The committee will provide ongoing input on programs recommended for future review and audit, in collaboration with other committees of the Legislative Assembly.
Resume review of the Public Accounts of the NWT. The government’s audited financial statements have not been scrutinized by a Legislative Assembly committee for many years. The standing committee has pressed the government to provide the Public Accounts earlier in the financial cycle, and will be working with staff of the Auditor General this December on how to approach this review.
Five-year review of the Official Languages Act. The committee will undertake this review beginning in the Legislative Assembly’s February sitting.  
The committee’s ongoing mandate includes oversight of the Departments of Executive, Finance, Human Resources, and Aboriginal Affairs and Intergovernmental Relations. It is also mandated to review the Auditor General of Canada’s reports, official languages matters, the NWT Public Accounts, and the reports of the Assembly’s Statutory Offices including the Human Rights Commission, Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Official Languages Commissioner.

The committee consists of MLAs Michael Nadli (Deh Cho), Wendy Bisaro (Yellowknife Frame Lake), Daryl Dolynny (Yellowknife Range Lake), Norman Yakeleya (Sahtu), and Alfred Moses (Inuvik Boot Lake).

For more information, contact:

Michael Nadli, Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations
MLA Deh Cho
Legislative Assembly of the NWT
P: 867-669-2268
E: Michael_Nadli@gov.nt.ca