AG report outlines recommendations for health authority
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2013 4:38PM MST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 12, 2013 7:08PM MST
The province released the most recent report from the Auditor General – which included dozens of recommendations meant for three different provincial departments.
Auditor General Merwan Saher passed the 117 page report on to the provincial government in early February.
The report included a total of 33 recommendations meant to increase accountability for Alberta Health Services, the Office of the Public Trustee, and a number of post-secondary institutions.
For AHS, Saher said the organization needs to place tighter controls on expenses, and guidelines for staff to follow when it comes to travel and living expenses.
According to the report, AHS spent more than $100 million on travel and hospitality over 17-months.
The report outlined a number of incidents where guidelines were not followed.
In one case, an AHS staff member was found to have charged taxpayers for flying his own plane – without an explanation as to why the official couldn’t take a commercial flight, or how the rate charged for the private flight was competitive.
In another case, one unnamed facility used taxi cabs to transport patients to their homes, some of the charges ended up totaling more than $300 – also, without an explanation.
As for living expenses, the report outlined at least one incident where existing guidelines appeared to be completely ignored - when an official ignored a rule stating only a portion of realtor fees would be covered, instead expensing the entire $116,000.
The report also outlined times that AHS provides service to patients and patient services gift shops – which meant that unusual purchases can be appropriate, such as staff buying toys, clothes, food, and tickets with work credit cards.
The Auditor General said the way certain unusual transactions were reported was inconsistent, with some indicating a business reason, and a number of others did not, or were not clear.
As an example, the report outlined three incidents where Carewest’s long-term care facilities purchased Calgary Flames season tickets and playoff tickets for the 2011-2012 season and season tickets for 2012-2013.
Nearly 300 Calgary Stampede tickets for gate admission were purchased for 2011 and 2012, with 40 grandstand show passes, and 10 rodeo tickets also purchased for 2012.
The report stated Carewest told AHS officials that the gate admissions were re-sold to staff, and the other tickets were re-sold to residents – AHS has planned an investigation to examine the organization’s records.
The only recommendation outlined in the report for AHS was for officials to tighten controls over expense claims, credit card transactions and other travel expenses by improving how charges are analyzed and documented, improve education and training of staff for compliance with expense policies and monitoring expenses and reporting results to the board.
The Health Minister responded to the report Tuesday, in a statement, he said he had asked Saher to audit AHS’ expense claim processes and policies, and that the Chair of AHS had told him changes would be made by the end of the month.
The rest of the recommendations, including those for the Office of the Public Trustee and for a number of Alberta post-secondary institutions, can be found online.