Reading the report into the Senate released Tuesday by Auditor General Michael Ferguson can be infuriating.
Senators expensing golf with their buddies, questionable travel, getting taxpayers to pay for two homes when they really only use one. None of these are things the average Canadian could do and keep their job, but the senators in question will keep their jobs and their pensions.
Did I mention that these are also the people that sat in judgment of Mike Duffy?
While the ol’ Duff is on trial and facing a possible stint in jail, the 30 senators flagged for improper expenses, including nine referred to the RCMP, will have a chance to go to arbitration if they disagree with the Auditor General and plenty of them do.
I don’t blame them. This is a guy that needs an audit of his auditing process.
Ferguson found roughly $1 million in questionable expenses. The cost to us for this audit? A staggering $23.5 million. It had previously been reported that Ferguson’s audit cost taxpayers $21 million but on Tuesday he admitted that no, it is actually $23.5 million.
So the overage on what his audit cost is 2.5 times higher than the amount of misspending he found. Great!
Only in a government town would that make sense.
Look, I’m not justifying former Senator David Oliver dinging us for golf with his buddies in Montreal or former Senator Marie Charette-Poulin expensing trips more likely related to the law firm she worked for than the Senate.
But the golf fees for Oliver and $31,000 in corporate travel of Charette-Poulin don’t amount to much compared to the $23.5 million racked up by Ferguson and his office to audit just two years worth of expenses.
I’ve been told that if Ferguson and his team were able to go back further that they would uncover much more misspending. Most likely they would, but at what cost?
The audit just released covered from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2013. Would going back another two years cost us another $23.5 million?
Quite frankly we can’t afford that.
It is also more than a bit odd to see Ferguson get so nit picky as to explain to senators how they can save $30,000 on Christmas card mail outs when his audit costs so much.
It was also amusing to find out that Ferguson’s office has their own YouTube Channel and that they produce videos for him that pretty much nobody watches.
Talk about value for money.
I wouldn’t be so nit picky myself normally, I see enough waste in this town in one day to make the average Canadian’s head spin. Eventually you either get used to it or sick of hearing yourself complain.
But as Ferguson is using his $23.5 million audit to lecture senators over Christmas card choices he is using office time and resources to post vanity videos to YouTube. Haven’t we heard complaints about cabinet minister’s doing that recently?
Most of his YouTube videos have less than 100 views. Is that good value for money?
Over Twitter, Ferguson (or his office) told me that the total cost over the last three years has been $7,800 to produce the videos.
Given that he has English and French versions, transcriptions of both and closed captioning, I’m going to doubt that figure.
And I’ll move on because Ferguson’s videos are small potatoes compared to the huge amount he just wasted tracking down Senate waste. Surely they could have found a more affordable way to complete this task.
In the private sector no company would pay $23.5 million to ferret out $1 million in waste, it just doesn’t make sense and if someone did do that while claiming value for money, they would lose their job.