What good are the public accounts?

A $3.1 billion question

Of the $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding this was identified yesterday as a source of some concern by the Auditor General, Tony Clement has pointed to the public accounts.

“The fact is it all is accounted for, but through a different methodology and that methodology is the traditional way that governments — both the Liberal government before us and the current government on its anti-terrorism measures — reported to Parliament, through something called the public accounts,” Clement told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.

I asked the Auditor General’s office earlier: “In regards to the $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding that are in question, could the auditor general have tracked that funding by reviewing the department by department spending reports in the Public Accounts?” Here was the response from the auditor general’s spokesman.

The information reported annually in the public accounts was at an aggregate level and most of the PSAT spending was not separately reported as a distinct (or separate) line item. Furthermore, with over 10 years elapsing since the beginning of the PSAT program, much of that information is now archived and unavailable.

I put that to Mr. Clement’s office and wondered if that undermined Mr. Clement’s suggestion to Canada AM. Mr. Clement’s office responded as follows.

We agree with the AG that the information is in the Public Accounts but was categorized and reported differently.