Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Auditor General Unloads On Gun Registry

Who could possibly have imagined that the former Liberal regime was keeping Parliament in the dark about the true cost of the gun registry? I certainly couldn't have:

Auditor-General Sheila Fraser is reporting that Parliament was in the dark about “significant costs” at the Canadian Firearms Centre from 2002 to 2004, while the Liberal government was in the midst of regime change.
In a special, separate section of her latest report, released officially today, Fraser chides the previous government for not reporting some $60 million in costs associated with obtaining a new information system for the controversial gun registry.

According to Fraser’s report, up to $39-million in estimated costs was not reported in 2002-03 while $21.8-million was not reported properly in 2003-04.

Though she doesn’t come out and say so directly, she hints that the government was trying to avoid a showdown in Parliament over the gun-registry costs. “Had these costs been recorded properly, the Canadian Firearms Centre would have needed to seek additional funding . . . to avoid overspending the limit authorized by Parliament,” Fraser is quoted as saying in a news release accompanying the report.


This newest look into the program shows that the total, net cost of the Canadian Firearms Centre is just under $1-billion - $946-million, or roughly $100-million for each of its 10 years of operation from 1995 to 2005.

Well, isn't that lovely. How many other hidden costs will we be finding in years to come from the previous government's creative accounting?

What the Liberals did may not have been technically lying to Parliament. But it would have gotten any corporate CFO canned, if only to save the skins of the board of directors.

And that isn't even the worst of it, according to Auditor General's report. These cost overruns weren't being run up to do the job--half the time, the gun registry had no targets for performance, or if they did, no proof that they met them or were trying to meet them:

4.35 We found that the Centre reported performance at a basic level in the more important and difficult areas—namely,

--stating performance targets,
--reporting results, and
--reporting how results will be used to improve future performance.

4.36 In particular, the Centre has not set any performance targets and has provided few examples of its outcomes. Instead of reporting the key results achieved, the Centre describes its activities and services.

4.37 We noted that in its 2003–04 report, the Centre estimated that almost 90 percent of all firearm owners had complied with the licensing regulations. However, it did not provide a corresponding estimate in its 2004–05 report. The Centre told us that it had been concerned because the estimate of compliance was based on information that was becoming outdated. In our opinion, it is important that the Centre either tell Parliament the level of compliance with the legislation or explain the difficulty of estimating it.

If you don't think the gun registry should be shut down after reading the AG's report, think again.

Source: Toronto Star

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