Auditor General Brian Bigger is looking for a new senior auditor, audit committee chair Ron Dupuis confirmed Wednesday.
Dupuis said Bigger has been authorized to offer a three-year contract, a significant improvement over the one-year deal offered to candidates in January. At the time, the auditor general said offering such little job security would make it difficult to retain staff. A candidate was hired in March, but is no longer working for the city. Dupuis said he didn't know if the length of the contract was a factor, but said Bigger has told the committee job security is key.
“He did bring it to our attention that he's looking for a new senior auditor,” Dupuis said. “If he's comfortable with a three-year contract, then I'm sure that's what he can proceed with ... We still want the best available person for the job.”
Bigger has been looking for a permanent senior auditor since former Senior Auditor Carolyn Jodouin left late in 2012. At the time, the auditor general was working on a one-year contract himself, and wasn't able to offer deals longer than his own. His contract has since been extended until December 2015.
Jodouin was part of several prominent audits since the office was created in 2009. A review of Sudbury Transit, for example, uncovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in missing bus ticket money, and an award-winning roads audit found issues with asphalt mix formulas and the storage of recycled asphalt. She and Bigger were honoured for that audit, which was entitled "The Impact of Changes to Road Design." It won the 2012 Silver Knighton Award from the Association of Local Government Auditors.
It's been a difficult period for the auditor general's department, which has only completed one audit in 2013, an examination of the city's Sudbury Transit and arena advertising contract. The September audit committee meeting was cancelled, but Dupuis said he expects Bigger will deliver another audit before the end of the year. According to Bigger's work plan for 2013, the next one is entitled Environmental Services Waste Management, and aims to finds savings in the city's waste management contracts.
But Bigger's work goes beyond the headline-grabbing audits, Dupuis said. Tracking the progress of work he's already done is also important.
“Because he had done so many audits before this, there was followup to be done,” he said. “He did progress reports, and he's been working on audits all the while.
“We're confident that by the end of the year, he'll have done sufficient work on audits.”
While Bigger will be around at least until 2015, a motion by Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk to make the audit department permanent has yet to pass into law.
After Matichuk introduced her motion last spring, council hired James C. Key, a highly regarded auditor with the Shenandoah Group, to give them options on what to do with the city’s internal audit department in the long-term. Key concluded that keeping a full-time audit department was the most effective and cheapest way to proceed.
Key also recommended bringing in a more diverse audit committee that included members with an accounting background. Currently, the committee includes all of city council.
Matichuk has said she intends to reintroduce her motion to make the office permanent at a future meeting.