Federal government to audit VANOC 

Federal review questions ability to keep Games on budget

By Clare Ogilvie

Both federal government and 2010 Olympic officials said a recently ordered federal audit of venue planning to date for the Games is routine.

“It is a routine audit that we do over 100 times a year,” said Canadian Heritage spokesman Len Westerberg.

“We want to make sure that the recipient is complying with the terms and conditions that were part of the (2002 Multi-party) Agreement.”

The audit, which is focusing on venue spending, will cover from fiscal year 2003-04 to 2006-07. It will also look for any areas which can be improved upon.

“…That way we can make timely improvements,” said Westerberg.

“There is nothing sinister about this. Nothing precipitated it. It was part of the agreements. It is part of our due diligence. We have to make sure that the money being spent is being spent in the best interest of the Canadian taxpayer.”

There will be other audits leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Whistler and Vancouver, which will run from Feb. 12 to 28 and March 12 through 21 respectively.

Said Mary Fraser, manager of communications for the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee: “This is a basic preliminary due diligence step for an initiative of this magnitude, typical of the methodology employed by the Department of Canadian Heritage for contribution recipients and is about ensuring that funds provided through the contribution agreements were used for the purpose intended and to make timely improvements to address any weaknesses identified in the audit.

“…Heritage Canada annually conducts over 100 similar audits of its funding recipients.”

Westerberg said the audit had nothing to do with a federal review carried out earlier this year by the federal government as it considered a request by VANOC for a further $55 million for venue construction.

The review, by Pacific Liaicon Associates Inc., was completed last May. The report raised concerns over a number of issues, including the fact that only three venues — the Nordic Centre, the UBC Ice Hockey Arena, and the Whistler Sliding Centre — were close to completing their engineering.

“The rest of the venues are either in the conceptual diagram stage of just starting detailed engineering, which means that there is not enough information to develop a good estimate and a procurement plan,” states the May 19, 2006 report.

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