Being a politician is not all about the photo opportunity, shaking hands, kissing babies and attending community events. It’s not all about jumping up and down during Question Period (when we actually do sit in the Legislature) pointing out the current government’s shortcomings. It’s also not all about proposing policy changes, although it is the work of government (when it is sitting in the Legislature). Part of being a politician, and perhaps the part that I love most, is holding government (and by extension bureaucrats who are carrying out the direction of government) accountable.
I confess, I actually do enjoy reading the Auditor General’s reports and reviewing how government is tracking its own performance. This is the work of the Public Accounts Committee and I am pleased to serve on this supposedly non-partisan committee with about a dozen other MLAs – half Liberal and half NDP. (This supposed ‘non-partisanshipness’ is worthy of another blog post at a later time).
Last week we all met for four days reviewing numerous reports and asking the Auditor and the bureaucrats about the performance measures that would indicate if taxpayers dollars are being well spent and that we are getting the services we are paying for and reaching our goals and objectives. I know that this is pretty geeky stuff, but it’s the stuff that matters.
As a new MLA I have to say that I was rather shocked with many of the Auditor General’s recommendations. My shock was not with the Auditor General, per se. The Auditor General’s team have done an excellent job. It’s the bureaucrats, and by extension the Government, who have been in many cases, ignoring key pieces of information when making decisions (Evergreen Line), not tracking performance indicators when dealing with and paying private partners (Sea to Sky Highway, Health Benefits Operations/ Maximus) and not ensuring that sensitive personal information is kept private (JUSTIN system for the Police/Justice system).
The general lack of oversight is what shocked me. I have spent almost 20 years in the social service non-profit sector where oversight on government contracts has become more paramount over time, particularly over the past 10 years. Non-profit social service providers are currently expected to report on numerous performance indicators and service delivery outcomes before renewal is considered. I fully expected that this level of accountability would exist throughout government – boy was I wrong.
While serving on the Public Accounts Committee may not be the sexiest and attention grabbing of roles, it’s an important piece – one that deserves more attention. As taxpayers we deserve better and as a self-acclaimed ‘performance-indicator geek’ I am proud to represent taxpayers on this committee.
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