Despite a cost efficiency mantra over the last 19 months, the city’s auditor general’s annual report reveals Ottawa is still wasting money in several areas.

“We’re not always looking for the most economical way to achieve things,” auditor general Alain Lalonde said yesterday after releasing his annual report of 23 audits undertaken in the last year. “Do we have the reflex to really save all the money we can?”

One audit revealed the city lost out on more than $4 million in development fees last year. Other audits revealed losses and cost overruns in the following areas:

  • The city’s protocol office went over budget by $389,000;
  • The city spent $40,000 to repair a line-marker vehicle that was then sold for $32,000;
  • The city is incurring unnecessary cost by not taking advantage of manufacturers’ warranties.

City manager Kent Kirkpatrick agreed with “85 per cent” of 300 recommendations made by the auditor general. However, the two clashed over the merit of paying a headhunting firm $282,223 to recruit four senior managers who were already known to the city.

“These are among the most important decisions that management makes and spending the money on an executive recruitment firm is absolutely a good investment,” Kirkpatrick said.

Mayor Larry O‚Brien sided with Lalonde, however, saying only the most senior positions should involve recruitment firms.

“You do want to engage a professional service when you are looking at replacing a police chief,” he said. “But when it gets down to operations, it is highly unusual to get a headhunter to confirm a position was justified by the managers.”

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