I put forward a motion at the City Council Executive Committee meeting on February 24, 2014. The motion addressed the schedule of audits planned by the auditing firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) for the City’s agencies, boards, and committees (ABCs). If you take a look at the Audit Schedule (see image attached), you’ll notice six agencies, boards and committees are going first including Transit Windsor and The Airport (2013-14) followed by Tunnel, Solid Waste, Library and Community Housing (2014-15) . ENWIN is scheduled to go last in 2015-16 – two years from now. I put forward a motion that Council change the schedule and start with the ENWIN audit. There are several reasons for this.
First, when I was knocking on doors during the by-election campaign in December, the issue of accountability and transparency came up frequently and by far the object of those discussions was ENWIN. Not the airport. Not the tunnel. Not Transit. It was ENWIN. The concerns I heard at the door regarding accountability are reinforced by the fact that a petition was organized in support of an audit at ENWIN which gathered 800 signatures across the city. That is significant. In light of this existing demand, it makes sense to respond proactively by focusing the first audit efforts at ENWIN. If something comes up, we fix it. If nothing comes up, we move on with a greater degree of public confidence.
Second, we know and recognize the fact that we have a highly professional and highly dedicated City Administration that often goes above-and-beyond to serve residents of the City of Windsor. I’ve seen the long, tough hours they put in. But we also know that–as with any large organization–there is room for improvement and ENWIN is no different. For example, from a recent article in the Windsor Star titled “Tortuous ENWIN Response” we learned that it took a Windsor Star journalist nearly two years to receive the documentation she requested from a Freedom-of-Information (FOI) request that asked for something as simple as the length and attendance of past ENWIN meetings. Surely we can do better than two years, and that’s one of the things this audit would examine.
Third, many of my Council Colleagues put forward the argument that Professionals and City Councillors sit on the Board of Directors of ENWIN, and hence implied there is enough oversight already. I trust the integrity and professionalism of both my colleagues and the members of the board. However, as former President of the United States Ronald Reagan often stated: “TRUST, BUT VERIFY”. The point of an audit is not to confirm what we already know, but to identify the blind-spots.
The true value of this audit will be if we can use it to improve the accountability, transparency and responsiveness of our City government. With ENWIN at the top of people’s minds and in the news, it’s the natural first place to start.