Tag Archives: Globe & Mail

Auditor General Health Canada / Infoway Audit

This past weekend there was a spate of tweets, most of them retweets, related to a “new” auditor general’s report.  As reported in an earlier blog post, this audit report was released Nov 3/2009.  Digging beyond the highlights reported in the mainstream press, the AG’s report concluded:

  • “Canada Health Infoway is exercising due regard in managing funds from the federal government to achieve its goal related to the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) across Canada.”
  • “Infoway has set a good foundation for the work it is doing by applying appropriate governance mechanisms to carry out its mandate and objectives.”
  • “It has also implemented appropriate management controls for operational spending, although controls for contracting for goods and services need to be strengthened.”
  • “Infoway is exercising due regard in approving, monitoring, and making best use of its funds for EHR projects. However, Infoway ought to better document its analyses of project deliverables before releasing payments.”
  • “Infoway approves projects that are designed to align with the Blueprint and comply with standards. However, it does not have sufficient assurance that, once implemented, projects will comply with these requirements.”
  • “…the Corporation does not annually report progress achieved against expected progress and it does not report on its performance targets that are related to the use of EHR systems. Also, it does not report on project adoption and project compliance with requirements for national compatibility. This information is important to providing a complete picture of progress achieved.”
  • “Health Canada ensures that Infoway complies with the funding agreements. However, at the time of the audit, the Department had not yet fully developed an approach to its ongoing monitoring activities to detect early warning of potential non-compliance.”
  • “Infoway has accomplished much in the eight years since its creation. Progress achieved thus far required the collaboration of Infoway, all provinces and territories, and other stakeholders. Significant challenges remain to ensuring that tangible benefits of EHRs are realized across the country.”

These conclusions hardly seem to point to widespread problems or misspending of public funds.

I have stated in past blog posts that I support the concept of a national eHealth agency and that, in general, I support Canada Health Infoway  That said, there is clearly some public dissatisfaction with Infoway and its operations.  I encourage continued debate regarding further Infoway funding and offer this blog as a vehicle for such discussions.  I am more interested in an open and vigorous debate than I am defending Infoway.

Mike

Deja vu all over again

Having just finished reading the BC Auditor General report, I was intrigued to see a Tweet last night regarding a recent Auditor General report on Canada Health Infoway.  Digging a a little deeper a I found a Feb 20th Globe and Mail article about a “new audit” that found “Health Canada handed out millions of dollars to a national eHealth agency without properly accounting for how the money was spent”.  As I read the article I had this strange sense of deja vu, as though I had seen many of the audit findings before.  Also, I found it strange that a “new” Auditor General report would be released when parliament was prorogued.   So, I went to the federal Auditor General’s site and found what appeared to be the report referenced in the article.  It was released  November 3rd, 2009.

http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/mr_20091103_e_33273.html

I make no secret that while I have some reservations about the way that Infoway operates I support the concept of a national eHealth agency and I strongly encourage the federal government to release the $500M earmarked for Infoway.  This support notwithstanding,I firmly believe in the need for honest and open debate about eHealth plans and priorities.  Indeed, this need is the basis for this blog and lack of transparency is one of my key complaints about Infoway.  In that light, I do question whether an audit report released last fall is really “new”.  Now, I’ll give the Globe and Mail the benefit of a doubt.  Perhaps there is another more recent report that I missed.  If so, could someone point it out to me as I’d like to read it.

Mike

Postscript – updated 26 Feb 2010

I did some more digging around and found the internal audit referenced in the Globe & Mail article; you can find it at:

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/pubs/_audit-verif/2009-20/index-eng.php

In addition to the comments noted in the Globe and Mail article, the audit also notes:

  • Overall, Canada Health Infoway Inc. has an effective management control framework in place surrounding the administration of grant funds.
  • Approved expenditures were related to the Scope of Work and Outcomes as defined in the Funding Agreements.

I’m all for shining the light on all government spending.  But, lets share both the good points and bad points and highlight overall findings in addition to picking on specific detailed issues.