AMHERST – Officials with the provincial Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Department are laying the groundwork for the completion of a forensic audit of the Cumberland Regional Development Authority.
“There is some work that has to be done internally to scope out what exactly the forensic audit should look at. That’s what staff are doing right now,” department spokeswoman Jennifer Gavin said Friday. “They’re looking at the boundaries of what the audit will be.”
No timeline has been set for when the audit will take place or who will complete the task.
Gavin said minister Percy Paris understands the concerns of Nova Scotians and that people expect regional development authorities to manage their finances appropriately. They also deserve to know their tax dollars are being managed in a transparent and accountable manner.
She said Paris has accepted the report and the department is beginning to implement the recommendations made by ombudsman Dwight Bishop. At the same time, she said, a review of the regional development authority model by an expert panel of business and community leaders is underway.
“Part of this work is reviewing lessons learned on governance and accountability of RDAs. The minister will be making sure they take the ombudsman’s report into consideration,” Gavin said.
The department, she added, has immediately implemented the requirement of cancelled cheques to ensure cheques have deposited. The minister has met with the board of the Cumberland RDA and the lines of communication are open.
“No other measures are being taken at this time. We are looking forward to the information that will be obtained from the forensic audit and the RDA review,” she said.
Bishop recently called for a forensic audit of the development authority after slamming CRDA’s financial practices and the department’s oversight of the development agency. His report said the level of oversight does not bring integrity to the accountability process for monitoring projects and expenditures of public funding.
If the forensic audit is consistent with his findings, Bishop is recommending the matter be handed over to police.