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City’s AG praises drop in perks

There is a lot less buttering-up between city officials and firms hoping for contracts, according to the city's auditor general.

There is a lot less buttering-up between city officials and firms hoping for contracts, according to the city's auditor general.

Since the audit was commissioned last year as a reaction to reports of city officials attending hockey games or going on ski trips with potential or current suppliers, Auditor General Alain Lalonde found that behaviour has virtually disappeared.

Lalonde, who released the 2008 audit reports for the city Wednesday, credited the change to a June 15, 2007 memo from city manager Kent Kirkpatrick prohibiting city staff from accepting any "hospitality."

"Before, it was prevalent for employees to accept invitations. Some employees were even seeking invitations," he said. "After June 15, it virtually stopped. I've never seen, in my previous experience, such a change in approach."

Many people pointed to the memo to explain their refusal, he said.

In the audit, Lalonde said they identified all employees who were responsible for awarding contracts and focused on the 28 workers who dealt with a high volume of contracts.

They reviewed the applicable policies and files and interviewed city staff and suppliers.

However, Lalonde said his investigation was limited by the city's policy of only saving emails for 90 days and he is asking the city to consider extending that period to two years.

With 15,000 employees on the city payroll, Lalonde said there are bound to be grey areas and he spent some time during an in-camera session discussing those cases with council.

 
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