The Auditor General of Canada, Michael Ferguson, released his Spring 2013 Report (the “Report“) today and among the key findings, found that a whopping $3.1 billion in funding to programs to combat terrorism in Canada is unaccounted for.
Moreover, the Report found that some of the $12.9 billion approved for fighting terrorism in Canada went to pay for projects like renovating the apartments for married personnel at the Shilo Canadian Forces Base in Manitoba. Funds also went to pay for a security expert to provide security services to a foreign country in connection with a sporting event. The use of funds for those two projects appears inconsistent with the five PSAT objectives listed below for which the $12.9 billion was approved.
In the fiscals years 2001 – 2009, the Treasury Board allocated $12.9 billion for counter terrorism activities, but federal departments and agencies reported spending only $9.8 billion and none of the relevant agencies can, it appears, as of the date of the Report, account for the allocation of the remaining $3.1 billion.
In 2001, after 9/11, the federal government put in place a Public Security and Anti-Terrorism (“PSAT“) initiative to fund measures to combat terrorism whose objectives were to:
- keep terrorists out of Canada;
- deter, prevent, detect, and prosecute and/or remove terrorists;
- facilitate relations between Canada and United States;
- support international initiatives; and
- protect Canada’s infrastructure.
Over the reporting period, agencies that were funded pursuant to the PSAT initiative reported receiving $9.8 billion to meet the PSAT objectives from a total of $12. 9 billion that was actually allocated by the Treasury Board.
No entity appears to know where the unaccounted for $3.1 billion went, however, three theories emerge in the Report: (a) $3.1 billion lapsed and was never spent; (b) $3.1 billion was spent as part of the PSAT initiative but no one is sure specifically on what or where; or (c) $3.1 billion may have been spent on other programs not approved pursuant to the PSAT initiative. No doubt in the coming weeks, the $3.1 billion will be located and accounted for.
On a going-forward basis, the Treasury Board will make policy changes in respect of the PSAT initiative and its funding to ensure that there are mechanisms in place that require the reporting of financing and non-financial information to the government.
The Auditor General audits federal government operations and provides Parliament with independent information, advice, and assurance regarding the federal government’s stewardship of public funds.
The Report can be viewed here.