The Thompson-Nicola Regional District said its “making strong progress” as it works through recommendations made by BDO Canada, following a forensic audit regarding reckless spending allegations by former CAO Sukh Gill.
The audit, released in December 2021, resulted in 65 recommendations by BDO Canada. The audit noted more than 18 “control weaknesses,” at the TNRD, including lack of oversight by the board of directors, and suggested implementing a “zero-tolerance tone” and a fraud risk assessment.
Gill left the regional district suddenly on Feb. 14, 2020, with a severance package in excess of $500,000.
Last month, the TNRD board issued a formal apology to current and former TNRD staff and citizens for the board’s lack of oversight and governance. Last week, on April 8, the TNRD said in a statement that it has completed 58 per cent of the recommendations aimed at enhancing policies and practices while addressing known gaps, and is committed to following all of the suggestions.
“I’m proud of the hard work that continues to be done by our entire team,” said CAO Scott Hildebrant. “We began to take steps to address previous gaps long before the forensic audit process, and we will continue to make progress towards fully implementing these recommendations.”
A progress page is available online and shows the TNRD’s progress through each of the 18 control weaknesses. To date, the TNRD has completed two of the 18 control weaknesses: complete a benchmark of salaries and expenses, and implement a formal whistleblowing system.
The BDO Canada recommendation suggested creating an anonymous and confidential system for whistleblowers, with both toll-free calling and email reporting channels. The report does not confirm if that had been completed.
“The TNRD has a disclosure (“whistleblower policy) but will revisit this policy to determine if further updates or changes are required,” the report reads.
The TNRD noted it will continue to provide policy updates at regular board and committee meetings, and through the TNRD website and additional methods.
Those wanting more information can visit the Forensic Audit Response & Results page on the regional district’s website. All 18 action items and their progress are noted, and numerous reports are available for review, as well as the report from BDO Canada.
The TNRD is also looking at improving how financial information is shared with the public, noting reports would be available online, though details about the initiative would be released at a later date.