5 more things to know about AG Ferguson's report

The chapter on F-35s stood out in Auditor General Michael Ferguson's spring report released today, but here's a list of what else it contained.

Border and aviation safety also targets of spring 2012 report

Auditor General Michael Ferguson held a news conference shortly after tabling his spring report on Tuesday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Auditor General Michael Ferguson's spring report released today contains six chapters and all eyes were on what he had to say about the F-35 fighter jets.

Here's a look at what else was covered in the report:

Transport Canada

What he looked at: Whether Transport Canada has managed risks associated with overseeing its civil aviation program – the surveillance of air carriers, aircraft maintenance organizations and airports. The department spends about $148 million per year and has 1,400 employees to monitor the aviation industry to make sure it is conducting itself safely.

What he found: The department is taking too long to address emerging safety issues, in some cases, more than 10 years. Some aspects are working well but the surveillance program has "weaknesses in critical areas" such as the information that is used to identify high-risk aviation companies that should be inspected. It's not always available or up to date.

A minimum standard to indicate how long an airline can go without being inspected doesn't exist and only two-thirds of planned inspections have been carried out. The inspections are not being carried out according to established methodology, and are subject to little oversight from management.

The department also doesn't know how many inspectors it needs, despite a recommendation from the auditor general in 2008 that it come up with that number as part of its human resources plan. The audit also noted some inspectors have resisted the implementation of the surveillance program.

Border control

What he looked at: Whether the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Health Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Transport Canada work well together to ensure that imported products conform to our laws and regulations. The following products were examined in the audit: fertilizers, health products, pest control products, consumer products, fireworks, vehicles and tires.

What he found: In most cases, the goods examined are being adequately controlled at the border. But, the results of CBSA monitoring reports are inaccurate and incomplete, and the gaps "make it difficult for federal organizations to know how well the controls are working."

In some cases where goods that did not meet import requirements were allowed to enter the country, most were products for which there was no agreement in place between CBSA and Health Canada. That agreement should outline responsibilities for controls on products under Health Canada's supervision, such as medical devices and pest control products, so that border officers know what procedures to follow.

Canada Revenue Agency

What he looked at: What the agency is doing about Canadians who don’t file their tax returns.

What he found: The agency can’t pursue all non-filers, so it uses a model to identify only some of them and the audit found those pursuits do end successfully. But it has not tested its screening process to determine if the files it chooses not to pursue should in fact be pursued. In other words, the agency doesn't know if it could be even more effective in going after non-filers.

Finance Canada

What he looked at: Finance Canada's strategies to manage market debt and at how it reports information about charges on the interest-bearing debt. Market debt is the part of the government's debt that it borrows in financial markets and as of March 31, 2011, it totalled $597 billion. Market debt plus public-sector pension plan liabilities make up over 92 per cent of the interest-bearing debt and in the last fiscal year, interest charges on debt were $30.9 billion.

What he found: The Finance Department uses a sound process and has a robust debt strategy model, far better than when it was examined by the auditor general 12 years ago. It could do a better job of explaining why particular debt strategies are chosen.

Crown corporations

What he looked at: The Canadian Dairy Commission, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

What he found: No significant deficiencies in the systems and practices of the three Crown corporations, but he makes some specific recommendations for each on how to improve what they're already doing.