"Biggest Scandal in Canadian History": HRDC Audit Starts Probity War (Working Paper 23)
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The article describes the nearly year-long political and media uproar that followed on the release in January, 2000 of a qualitative or soft “audit” of management control in the federal government department, Human Resources Development Canada, and analyses the contributing factors. The article argues that the auditors’ examination of project files for programs delivered by grants and contributions was so abstract and poorly executed that nothing whatever can be concluded from the work. Factors that favoured the “scandal” interpretation include across-government New Public Management reforms where accountability has not been re-theorized for Canada’s Westminster system of government; Canada’s electoral volatility that starves the country of experienced politicians and spurs the tradition of political compensation for electoral support; and the political role of the Office of the Auditor General. This paper has been accepted for publication by the journal Critical Perspectives on Accounting, which holds copyright.