Nova Scotia’s auditor general says the government hasn’t done an adequate job of fixing the problems highlighted in previous reports.
The office reviewed 400 recommendations made in 2012 and 2013 auditor general reports and found that only 60 per cent of the recommendations have been acted on.
Auditor General Michael Pickup says the rate is essentially unchanged from last year’s 58 per cent implementation rate, which his report says is “still too low.”
Five departments implemented less than 50 per cent of recommendations made by the auditor general. They include the business department; communities, culture and heritage; the IWK Health Centre, transportation and infrastructure renewal; and the executive council office.
Meantime, four departments implemented all recommendations. The auditor general’s report says they are the office of the speaker; Nova Scotia Business Inc.; Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation; and Nova Scotia Primary Forest Products Marketing Board.
Health department and authorities under the microscope
A 2012 audit of the Nova Scotia Health Authority (formerly Capital Health) and the IWK found shortcomings in the protection of personal health information.
However, Pickup’s report found that only 25 per cent of recommendations to the NSHA, and 24 per cent of recommendations to the IWK have been implemented.
“Important” system security recommendations have not been implemented, the report said. One example, according to Pickup, is a failure to upgrade databases and restrict access to them.
Pickup’s report says part of the explanation for the low action rate is the reorganization of the health authorities and the transfer of some responsibility to internal services. However, he says despite those circumstances “more progress could have been made” to act on the recommended changes.
“Accountability for the protection of the information in these systems remains with the IWK Health Centre and the Nova Scotia Health Authority,” the report said.
The health department is also facing criticism for not acting on all of the recommendations from a 2012 audit on the prescription monitoring program. The report shows that while 76 per cent of the recommendations were implemented, some weren’t leading to gaps in the system.
A February allegation of one doctor abusing the prescription drug policy “highlights the relevance of our recommendations,” the report said. Specifically, it highlights the department’s failure to implement three recommendations related to reviewing physicians’ prescription practices and following up on the findings.
The report gives a pass to the health authority for not yet acting on recommendations for capital planning made in 2012. The report says the newly merged health authority is implementing the recommendations province-wide rather than just for the three former health authorities the original audit looked at.
Pickup says its “reasonable” that it hasn’t been done yet, given the NSHA has only been operating for one year.