Auditor General of Canada

The Office of the Auditor General of Canada was established in 1878 to audit the accounts of the federal government's departments, agencies and many of its Crown Corporations. The auditor general is independent of the government and reports results of annual examinations of government financial statements to the House of Commons, which are then contained in the Public Accounts of Canada. The office also conducts comprehensive audits of individual departments and agencies or specific programs, and government-wide issues such as management of human resources, contracting and the use of computers.

The Audit Office operates under the Auditor General Act of 1977, which requires the auditor general to examine and report on whether public funds have been spent economically and efficiently and whether audited organizations are in a position to measure whether the funded programs are effective. The Act originally allowed the Auditor General to report only annually, but in 1994 it was amended to provide for the production of up to 4 reports a year.

Further amendments to the Act in December 1995 established the position of Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development within the Office of the Auditor General. These amendments also imposed an obligation on government departments to prepare sustainable development strategies and action plans by December 1997. The Commissioner, on behalf of the Auditor General, reports annually to the House of Commons on the extent to which departments have met the objectives and implemented plans set out in those strategies. The Commissioner does this in a new annual "green" report required by the amendments. The report also includes the Commissioner's observation on the number, nature and status of environmental petitions sent to the Auditor General and forwarded to the appropriate minister(s), who must respond directly to the writer within specified time frames.

L.D. Desautels was appointed Auditor General on 1 April 1991 for a term of 10 years.