National News

Highlights of auditor's spring report

By The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Highlights of auditor general Michael Ferguson's spring report to Parliament:

— The prison system has met its immediate need for cells, but has not figured out how to deal with the long-term problem of crowding, especially since federal law-and-order legislation promises to keep more people behind bars for longer periods. The audit says there is already overcrowding in some regions as prisoners are bunked two to a cell — and the problem could get worse.

— The First Nations policing system is not working as intended and some of the police services fail to meet provincial policing legislation and standards. The audit found that First Nations don't have enough say in negotiating policing agreements. The Public Safety Department doesn't know whether First Nations police facilities, such as jails, police stations and accommodations, meet fire and building codes or provincial standards.

— Public-service pension plans, covering public servants, Mounties and the military, are not regularly assessed for sustainability. The audit says the Treasury Board should assume a greater role in overseeing the plans, because prolonged low interest rates, lower-than-expected returns on assets and longer life spans could end up costing taxpayers billions.

— A government program intended to integrate the way public servants, the military and the RCMP handle transfers and moving costs, did not encourage competition when it sought to issue one large contract to cover everyone. The audit also found that Public Works did not follow its usual processes in documenting its procurement strategy.

— Statistics Canada needs to better address the needs of those outside the federal government who use its data, especially when it comes to job-vacancy data. The auditors say the agency must find better ways to deliver data on small areas and smaller populations.

— The Canada Revenue Agency has made progress in dealing with aggressive tax planning, which pushes the envelope of what is allowed when it comes to minimizing tax liability. The auditors say, however, that the agency isn't sure it's catching all the high-risk cases. They say it needs to monitor the way its people are trained to sniff out and track down such tax schemes.

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