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Internal Auditor: A Key Player in Vaughan’s City-Building Story
Nov. 16, 2022

Accountability is vital in effective city-building--and this is where internal auditors come into play. In the City of Vaughan, in Ontario, Canada, the Internal Audit department maintains and operates a workplace environment where open and honest communications are the expectation, not the exception. This is also the crux of Vaughan’s Service Excellence commitment--a promise to the many citizens, businesses and employees that live, work and play in the community that all city business will be conducted with integrity, accountability, and respect.

Vaughan’s internal auditors work to uphold this commitment.

City-building is famously associated with skyscrapers, transit, and roadways--but it also includes maintaining public confidence, operating under a transparent governance model, and instilling sound municipal best practices. A well-run government depends on this.

Vaughan continues to raise the bar and be a national leader of trust in the public sector--and our internal audit practices go above and beyond to deliver a quality government service for taxpayers that is second to none. By evaluating and providing recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency/risk management, finance, and control activities, the City’s internal auditors establish processes, mitigate issues before they occur, and help uphold Vaughan’s position as a city of choice.

Most recently, in response to the global pandemic, a COVID-19 Emergency Planning and Business Recovery Audit was conducted. The objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of internal controls, processes and procedures in place to mitigate business risks associated with the City’s current Emergency Management and Business Continuity Program--which utilizes the following five pillars: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery in service delivery. Overall, recommendations were provided to improve efficiencies, strengthen business relations and ensure the City is even better prepared for potential future emergencies. These include assigning/training more than one person to a key role, providing clarity to staff beyond management level and establishing a dedicated COVID-19 Task Force.

Further, a Service Vaughan Audit was undertaken in February 2022. Service Vaughan, formerly known as Access Vaughan, is the City’s contact center for telephone, email, and in-person inquiries and service requests. On average, the team receives more than 18,000 inquiries per month. The objective of the audit was to assess internal processes and risks associated with managing Service Vaughan--including when Vaughan City Hall reopened to the public following mandated COVID-19 facility closures. The audit identified opportunities to improve operational efficiencies, in-person services, health and safety protocols and more. Examples include leveraging technology to enhance information retrieval, manage call volume and capture citizen feedback, and implementing corporate guidelines to improve two-way communication with departments across the organization.

In addition, the team conducted a Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service Fire Station Construction Audit from 2016 to April 2021. The objective was to audit the in-progress construction of a new facility: Fire Station 7-4. Three audit reports were developed: Planning and Design and Bid and Procurement Phases; Construction Phase; and Close Out Phase. Auditing a construction project from inception to close out helps mitigate risk and identify issues before construction is complete, assess the quality, scope, cost, and schedule of in-progress work, and increase access to stakeholders.

Some other municipal best practices the City of Vaughan employs are as follows:

2021 External Quality Assessment Results
Vaughan’s Internal Audit department team received the highest ranking achievable for every standard audited in its 2021 External Quality Assessment. This is the first time an external assessment was performed on the department -- and the City’s top achievement maintains confidence in the municipality, its governing body and operational performance measures. The “Generally Conforms” ranking it received demonstrates a clear intent and commitment to achieving core internal auditing practices, in addition to highlighting successful municipal practices and identifying opportunities for improvement. Based on the results, the next external assessment will be conducted in 2026.

Anonymous Reporting System
The City’s Internal Audit department oversees an Anonymous Reporting System, which is an option staff have to confidentially report misconduct, abuse, false claims and fraud they suspect may be happening in the workplace. It also relates to forgery, misuse of City property, equipment or materials, or inappropriate time reporting. This system is available 24-7 by phone or online, and all reports are thoroughly investigated by Internal Audit.

Audit Committee
Comprised of Members of Council and the public, the objective of the Audit Committee is to assist Council in the discharge of governance, accountability and controllership responsibilities by ensuring risks are being appropriately addressed through strong governance, a risk/control and compliance framework, appropriate stewardship and an effective internal audit activity. The Audit Committee meets at a minimum of five times each year to provide Council with timely information.

Fraud Awareness Week
Each November, the City recognizes Fraud Awareness Week by educating staff about the work the Internal Audit team does each day, and the resources available to help them recognize and report suspected fraud in the workplace.

Good Governance priority
As outlined in the 2018-2022 Term of Council Service Excellence Strategic Plan, Good Governance is a City priority. The goal is to effectively pursue good governance and fiscal responsibility by holding the public’s trust through inclusive, transparent and accountable decision-making, responsible financial management, superior service delivery and effective communication.

International Internal Audit Awareness Month
Every May, the City uses International Internal Audit Awareness Month to reiterate to staff the important function internal auditors provide, and how they employ best practices to ultimately serve and support them at work.

Office of the Integrity Commissioner and Lobbyist Registrar
Vaughan Council appointed Suzanne Craig as the City’s Integrity Commissioner in February 2009. The Integrity Commissioner is responsible for providing policy advice, complaint resolution and education to Members of Council on issues of ethics and integrity. In 2018, Suzanne was also appointed as the City’s part-time Lobbyist Registrar to ensure any lobbying activities conducted in Vaughan exercise best practices and uphold the public’s trust through inclusive, transparent and accountable communication. This office operates independently from the City, so decisions and practices can be implemented without bias or conflict of interest.

These are only a few of the many ways Vaughan’s Internal Audit team helps the municipality deliver Service Excellence and build the city with integrity, accountability and respect. Learn more at