Auditor general prepared to look at huge security costs for G8 and G20 summits

OTTAWA — Auditor General Sheila Fraser is ready to look at the huge security costs for the G8 and G20 summit meetings next month.

OTTAWA — Auditor General Sheila Fraser is ready to look at the huge security costs for the G8 and G20 summit meetings next month.

”Once the events have occurred and the spending has occurred we can look to see if it was done appropriately,” she told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday.

The billion-dollar tab for security prompted angry clashes in the House of Commons last week, with Public Safety Minister Vic Toews staunchly defending the costs.

”It certainly seems like a lot of money,” Fraser said. ”I think we have to understand better what is it for.”

She said the audit would be routine.

”Given the amount of spending, it is something that we would normally look at in our financial work,” she said.

”I would expect that there are a lot of people involved in this,” she said. ”The costs of housing and overtime and equipment I’m sure are going to be substantial.

”We would have to look at what planning has gone on and was the spending really just for these events or not.”

Toews says he’s fine with an audit.

The G8 is slated for Huntsville, Ont. June 25-26 followed immediately by the G20 in Toronto.

Fraser also said she hasn’t heard formally that MPs and senators have changed their minds about letting her audit the half-billion parliamentary budget.

”I’ve had no communication from them since their letter indicating that they were refusing our request.”

The politicians, though, are saying she’s welcome to come in for an audit. They changed their tune after the public reacted angrily to the news they had turned down Fraser’s request to look at Parliament’s annual half-billion-dollar budget.

Fraser says if she does get a formal invitation, she won’t focus on the expenses of individual MPs and senators.

”What we had proposed was never an audit of MP expenses alone,” she said. ”That would have been part of a financial management audit, but we would also look potentially at issues like human resource management or security on the Hill, contracting, those sort of broader management issues.”

Her auditors would be more interested in procedures and policies.

”We would look to see what kind of rules and procedures and controls are in place,” she said.

”We would expect the House of Commons and the Senator to have good policies and procedures, that they be comprehensive and that they be communicated well. If that is the case, we would do spot checks to make sure that those policies are actually being followed.”

She said such an audit normally takes about a year, so if the invitation comes soon, she could have a report by the middle of 2011.

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