Auditor Brian Bigger is updating the audit committee on his office’s work since he was hired. In reviews of the city’s transit, roads, watermain repair and handi-transit services, Bigger has made 157 recommendations on how to improve operations.
“In simple terms, for every $1 invested in the audit process the return on this investment has been $5.78,” Bigger’s report states. “Many of the estimated cost savings are ongoing and occur on an annual basis.”
His report also highlights “non-financial benefits” that have resulted from the audits, including a cultural shift among city departments.
“Audits are a catalyst, an enabler for change,” Bigger writes. “Transparency and accountability has certainly been heightened. Policies and procedures have certainly been improved. A positive cultural shift accelerated.”
Bigger’s contract was renewed over the summer, although no one will say for how long. His audits have generated controversy at times. The audit of Sudbury Transit’s kiosk uncovered more than $800,000 in missing ticket money. The matter is still under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police.
And his review of how roads are built and maintained in Greater Sudbury found that 30 tonnes of recycled asphalt can’t be accounted for in city stockpiles.
When speculation grew that this finding somehow implied criminal activity, the city was quick to say that what Bigger’s audit found was problems with the way inventory is tracked. The asphalt isn’t missing, the city said, and instead was used for projects like repaving shoulders and laneways.
The roads audit also found that city inspectors weren’t ensuring the asphalt mix being used on city roads was the same as the one required in the contract tender. Also, problems were found with inspections of completed roads, many of which were cracking shortly after completion.
For the current year, audits being worked on include one of how the city’s system of user fees operates and one of the city’s waste management (garbage) system.