If you read my previous blog post, you may have figured out I’m not impressed with the June 30th Saskatchewan auditor’s report on the Global Transportation Hub (GTH).
The following are a few samples, all taken directly from the document, of where, in my useless opinion, the report glosses over details it shouldn’t have; accepted statements at face value without actually, you know, auditing them, and contradicts itself.
You can read the whole report here, if you’re so inclined.
This report should have been clearer, and in no way accomplished what the auditor’s office was originally asked to do by Cabinet (though they’re likely not too disappointed):
Determining whether “appropriate“procedures were followed is a far cry from just determining whether procedures existed – because that’s what the auditor opted to do instead:
This is highlighted from the outset with the auditor’s summation of her findings, found at the very beginning of the document:
If you have even a cursory understanding of this issue, you knew that already. We wanted to know why the land wasn’t purchased in a financially responsible way, and why those delays occurred, which we would have learned if the auditor had assessed the value (or appropriateness) of what went down.
To be fair, the report does go into a bit more detail about those delays, but when I say that important issues were glossed over, or too vague, this is a prime example:
Why was Bill Boyd actively involved in this purchase? Was that an “appropriate procedure”?
Why was there no clear responsibility in government around this deal?
Anyway, moving on to contradictions in the report:
…as this same report identifies a few pages earlier:
That seems like a fairly simple, but important, detail to get right.
Another contradiction – the auditor says no one was taking sufficient steps to manage this deal:
So the auditor’s report says no one took sufficient steps to buy the land, then goes on to detail all the things the Ministry of Highways had been prepared to do (since 2008, really) to buy the land, right up until November 2013, a month before the deal was done by the GTH.
But, sad trombone:
Sorry, I can’t reconcile the notion that “no one” took sufficient steps to purchase this land when the same report details what appear to be very sufficient steps taken by the MHI, who were undermined by the parallel, and seemingly secret, negotiations initiated by Bill Boyd.
“Sometime in the fall” when Boyd “took action” was presumably, um, August:
Regardless of why Boyd decided to go ahead and do this, he did.
That’s adorable, because:
There’s not a word in this report about how no one – no officials, Cabinet, Ministers, a savvy administrative assistant, no one – knew the GTH and MHI were literally doing the exact same thing at the exact same time.
Not a word in the report about how much that bureaucratic duplicity on this transaction cost the taxpayer, a figure which should be tacked onto the $21 million we paid for it, or whether or not that duplicity was “appropriate procedure”.
Boyd asks one of his senior-advisors-who-didn’t-work-at-the-GTH to go knock on the landowner’s door.
Why would Boyd choose someone from his office – someone who the auditor makes a point of highlighting did not work with the GTH – to do the deal?
This one actually garners an answer in the report.
Because apparently Boyd, the guy who had been in charge of the GTH for the last two years, didn’t think the GTH was competent.
No word from the auditor in the report, however, on the appropriateness of any of this.
Either way, I think the fact that the GTH Minister allegedly didn’t have faith in the GTH might have warranted more than one line in an audit of the GTH, no?
Finally, this heading, from the report, made me LOL:
Weird, I wonder how they managed to spell ‘Secretly’ as “Handled Outside of the GTH”.
I’m going to stop there, because if you haven’t gotten the point by now, you won’t.
There’s a fundamental difference between what was asked for and what was investigated, and that should have been made clear from the moment the auditor’s report was released.
Which is how you ended up with headlines like this.
“…report clears province…”
“…didn’t do a good job…”
“…paid too much…”
We knew all that already. Had the auditor’s office done what was asked in the first place, we’d know a hell of a lot more.
Good news – we still can. I’ll kick out Part 3 of this saga sometime soon, in which we examine who said what on the record, and how what they said correlates to what little information we do have in the auditor’s report.
Hint – it’s still going to be a long read.