HALIFAX – The province has taken another step toward hiring an independent firm to complete a forensic examination of Cumberland County’s development authority.
Economic and Rural Development Minister Percy Paris confirmed Thursday his department has issued a call for proposals to complete the investigation of the development authority that came under fire earlier this year from Nova Scotia’s ombudsman.
“The province’s internal audit centre is managing the forensic examination of the Cumberland Regional Development Authority and the work is underway,” the minister said in an email. “The internal audit centre has scoped out the parameters of the forensic examination and consulted with key groups including the offices of the Ombudsman and Auditor General.
“We issued a request for proposals earlier this week to find the best independent group to do this work.”
Paris said the department looks forward to receiving the results of the examination, which he said will help strengthen oversight and accountability.
The minister expects the work to be finished by the summer of 2013.
In August, ombudsman Dwight Bishop reported questionable accounting practices and a lack of oversight at the development authority. He called for the forensic examination with the recommendation the results be turned over to police if the findings are the same as his.
He said invoices were created and used to obtain funds from the province without direct expenditures. He said those actions undermined the accountability process and brought into question matters of credibility and integrity.
Bishop’s review of CRDA stemmed from two former employees who claimed they were fired after they disclosed concerns to the CRDA board about wrongdoings that were taking place.
He recommended the board acknowledge to the complainants they did not adequately address the concerns raised by them.
CRDA, for its part, has indicated it will co-operate fully with the examination while saying it remains proud of its record of achievement.