Frequently Asked Questions of OCG

General

  1. What is the difference between the Comptroller General and the Auditor General?

Reporting Wrongdoing

  1. If I become aware of financial mismanagement or wrongdoing, to whom do I report?

Financial Management

  1. What is the Core Policy and Procedures Manual (CPPM)?
  2. To whom does CPPM apply?
  3. CPPM is “principle based policy”. What does that mean?
  4. What is the difference between ministry policies and CPPM?
  5. Who can I ask when I have questions about financial policy and procedures?
  6. How can I be kept up to date whenever CPPM is updated?
  7. What legislation is the OCG responsible for?
  8. I have just been given the responsibility of Expense Authority (EA). What does this mean?
  9. Can the Purchase Card be used to make a purchase on the Internet?
  10. The Corporate Travel Card is a “shared liability card”. What are my responsibilities?
  11. Where do I go for information about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Provincial Sales Tax?
  12. Where can I find the financial forms?
  13. Where can I find information about financial reports?

Procurement

  1. What trade agreements does the Provincial Government of BC follow?
  2. What is the Vendor Complaint Review Process (VCRP) for government procurement?
  3. Is there a difference between ministry vendor complaint processes and the VCRP administered by the OCG?
  4. What does the government procurement policy apply to?
  5. When is a direct award contract appropriate?
  6. Who is responsible for the procurement policy?

Legal Encumbrances

  1. What is the legal encumbrance function within the Ministry of Finance, Corporate Compliance and Controls Monitoring Branch (3CMB)?
  2. Where do I send my Garnishing Order?
  3. Who can answer my questions about preparing a Garnishing Order?
  4. I received a call from a creditor asking about the status of a payment for a Garnishing Order. Who should I refer them to?
  5. Where in CPPM can I find more information on legal encumbrance?

Unclaimed Property

  1. What is the Unclaimed Property program?
  2. What are my obligations as a holder of unclaimed property?
  3. What should I do if I receive a letter from the BC Unclaimed Property Society?

 

 General

  1. What is the difference between the Comptroller General and the Auditor General?

The Comptroller General (OCG) reports to the Deputy Minister of Finance and fulfills a governance role by developing and maintaining a good financial management control framework to guide ministry activities.  The OCG prepares and issues the monthly, quarterly and annual financial statements of government, develops and maintains the financial management and procurement management framework and monitors compliance with it.  OCG also conducts special investigations into reported wrong doing .

The Auditor General reports to the Legislative Assembly of BC.  Duties of this office include auditing the financial statements of the Government Reporting Entity to provide an opinion on their fairness and completeness, conducting audits on some government agencies and providing audit opinions on the efficiency and effectiveness of various ministry programs.

Reporting Wrongdoing

  1. If I become aware of financial mismanagement or wrongdoing, to whom do I report?

All employees have an obligation to report under FAA Section 33.2 any circumstances where an expenditure is initiated by an unauthorized person or will result in exceeding the spending limits of the voted appropriation.  Payments must also meet the requirements of FAA Sec 33.  Fraudulent activities or misuse of government property is also to be reported.

Persons within and outside of government wishing to make a report may contact the Comptroller General directly or may make an anonymous report. 

Comptroller.General@gov.bc.ca or 250-387-6692 or PO Box 9413, Stn Prov Govt,      Victoria, BC V8W 9V1

If making an anonymous report, please provide sufficient details about the location and circumstances so that we can follow up on your report.

Be assured that your report will be held in strict confidence.

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Financial Management

  1. What is the Core Policy and Procedures Manual (CPPM)?

The Core Policy and Procedures Manual (CPPM) combines government-wide financial and general management policy and financial administration procedures into a single online reference source. The CPPM outlines government objectives, standards and directives for sound management and promotes consistent, prudent financial administration and practices.

  1. To whom does CPPM apply?

CPPM applies to all ministries, offices, special funds and accounts, and appropriations outlined in the FAA. Policies also apply to Officers of the Legislature.

  1. CPPM is “principle based policy”.  What does that mean?

Principle based policy refers to high-level objectives and principles in policy versus prescriptive, rules based policy.  Principled based policy is outcomes focussed and allows users to have more flexibility to determine how they will comply with the principles to ensure the objectives of government are met. Sound judgment must be used by all staff to ensure that principles are upheld.

  1. What is the difference between ministry policies and CPPM?

CPPM is a framework of key controls that apply to core government and supports the financial management activities of ministries and their organizations.  Ministries can develop specific operational procedures in order to manage and communicate roles and responsibilities and accountabilities for staff such as generating a contract, spending approval requirements, how to process invoices, etc. 

  1. Who can I ask when I have questions about financial policy and procedures?

Ministries often have detailed policy and procedures which adhere to the principles of CPPM but are based on the specifics of their programs.  If you have financial services staff in your branch, speak with them or contact the office of your ministry’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  The Financial Management Branch (FMB), Office of the Comptroller General, provides support and advice to CFOs and their staff.  See Financial Management Branch (FMB) contacts.

  1. How can I be kept up to date whenever CPPM is updated?

You can subscribe to be on the distribution list for CPPM updates.  You can also unsubscribe at any time.  

  1. What legislation is the OCG responsible for?

OCG is the lead central agency for the administration of two primary statutes:

The Financial Administration Act (FAA), enacted in 1981, is the financial administration framework for core government (entities in the Consolidated Revenue Fund), covering budgeting, expenditures, revenues, borrowing, lending and investing. The Act establishes the role of Treasury Board for government financial management and control.  

The Financial Information Act (FIA) enacted in 1985 requires public corporations outside of the government reporting entity to publicly disclose certain financial information.

Questions about the FAA and the FIA should be directed to the Financial Management Branch.

The Financial Management Branch is responsible for legislative changes to the Auditor General Act.  Questions specific to the Act should be directed to the Office of the Auditor General.

  1. I have just been given the responsibility of Expense Authority (EA). What does this mean?

Expense authority is the authority granted to some ministry positions to approve expenditures and accounts. It includes, but is not limited to, the authorization of the purchase of goods and services, approval of transfers and entitlements, and approval of financing transactions. It is important to note that expense authority is granted to positions rather than individuals.

The roles and responsibilities of EAs are essential to financial governance and it is important that you receive adequate training to fully understand your responsibilities as well as expenditure policies.  FM 111: Expense Authority, an online course available through the Learning Centre, is designed to provide you with training regarding your responsibilities. Also, see CPPM 4.3.2 for the policies related to Expense Authority.

  1. Can the Purchase Card be used to make a purchase on the Internet?

Yes, if certain policies and guidelines are followed.  See the Purchase Card Manual, 6.0 Making Purchases.

  1. The Corporate Travel Card is a “shared liability card”.  What are my responsibilities?

The travel card provided by the Bank of Montreal is a personal pay / shared liability product. The Province is liable for all legitimate travel expenses for which the employee has not been reimbursed, and the employee is liable for any ineligible charges and for approved travel expenses for which he/she has already been reimbursed. It is the employee's responsibility to pay the monthly statement balance in full by the due date. It is therefore essential that employees and ministry staff submit and process travel voucher reimbursements in a timely manner to avoid account delinquencies and interest charges. See CPPM 4.3.19 for more details.

  1. Where do I go for information about the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the Provincial Sales Tax?

Effective April 1, 2013, ministries charge and collect PST and GST on applicable government sales, and pay PST and GST on taxable goods and services where payable.  OCG is responsible for corporate GST administration and reporting, and settlement of CRA GST remittances and rebate claims. Go to CPPM M - Sales Taxes for information.

  1. Where can I find the financial forms?

There are a number of financial forms referenced throughout CPPM.  A list of financial forms can be found on the Ministry of Finance government intranet site.

  1. Where can I find information about financial reports?

Ministries provide annual service plan reports, ministerial accountability reports, and financial reports as required through legislation and policy.  An overview to all of these reports is found in CPPM Chapter 3, Part III, along with procedure requirements.

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Procurement

  1. What trade agreements does the Provincial Government of BC follow?

The Province is a party to the national Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA). Ministries must abide by the terms and conditions of the agreements when undertaking contracts.

  1. What is the Vendor Complaint Review Process (VCRP) for government procurement?

The VCRP is designed to ensure that there is a process for the review of vendor complaints about a government procurement process. The intent of the VCRP is to assist government in identifying and responding to problems in the establishment and application of government procurement policy and procedures. This VCRP requires that ministries and vendors provide full access to all information pertinent to complaints. All information under this VCRP is subject to the Document Disposal Act and the access and privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

  1. Is there a difference between ministry vendor complaint processes and the VCRP administered by the OCG?

Yes. The government vendor complaint review process consists of 3 separate components:

•    informal ministry discussions,

•    formal complaints at the ministry-level,  and

•    an independent review by the OCG.

All formal complaints are initially directed to the ministry responsible for the procurement in question.  Ministries must have a vendor complaint process in place including procedures for reviewing, recording, managing and reporting the complaint. Contacts and vendor complaint procedures for each ministry can be found at: http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/pgo/VCRP.htm#MinVCRP.  The OCG does not become involved with complaints at the ministry level in order to maintain our independence should the matter be escalated. 

The Financial Management Branch within the OCG, as a governance body, is independent from procuring ministries.  We will review the complaint at the vendor’s request if they are not completely satisfied with the result of the ministry process. A review by FMB is completely independent from the ministry-level complaint process.  It is FMB’s role to maintain fairness by remaining impartial and free of any real or perceived conflict of interest.

For more information on the government VCRP, please visit: http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/pgo/VCRP.htm or http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/fmb/manuals/CPM/06_Procurement.htm#11.

  1. What does the government procurement policy apply to?

This policy applies to government contracts (i.e. agreements to procure goods, services  and construction) and to contract expenditures chargeable to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (including special funds) and trust funds. This policy does not apply to government transfers (i.e., grants, entitlements).  See CPPM 21.

The Province is a party to the national Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement (NWPTA). Ministries must abide by the terms and conditions of the agreements when undertaking contracts.

The Procurement Governance Office, Office of the Comptroller General, is the contact point for the negotiation, compliance and reporting requirements for procurement related matters.

  1. When is a direct award contract appropriate?

Contracts for acquisitions (of goods, services, and construction) and disposals may be negotiated and directly awarded without competitive process where one of the following exceptional conditions applies:

  • the contract is with another government organization;
  • the ministry can strictly prove that only one contractor is qualified, or is available, to provide the goods, services or construction or is capable of engaging in a disposal opportunity;
  • an unforeseeable emergency exists and the goods, services or construction could not be obtained in time by means of a competitive process;
  • a competitive process would interfere with a ministry's ability to maintain security or order or to protect human, animal or plant life or health; or
  • the acquisition is of a confidential or privileged nature and disclosure through an open bidding process could reasonably be expected to compromise government confidentiality, cause economic disruption or be contrary to the public interest.
  1. Who is responsible for the procurement policy?

The Procurement Governance Office, Office of the Comptroller General, is responsible for developing and revising corporate procurement policy and provides official communications and interpretations of procurement policy.  Ministries are responsible for ensuring compliance with the policy.

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 Legal Encumbrances

  1. What is the legal encumbrance function within the Ministry of Finance, Corporate Compliance and Controls Monitoring Branch (3CMB)?

 3CMB is responsible for capturing, processing and re-directing payments made by government that have become legally encumbered due to third party demands, court ordered garnishments, or inter-ministry set-offs.

  1. Where do I send my Garnishing Order?

 Legal orders for the province may be served to:

The Attorney General at the Ministry of Justice in the City of Victoria, and are sufficiently served if
(i)  left there during office hours with a solicitor on the staff of the Attorney General at Victoria, or
(ii)  mailed by registered mail to the Deputy Attorney General at Victoria.

Orders , excluding those related to bankruptcy and insolvency, may also be sent to Ministry of Finance, Corporate Compliance and Controls Monitoring Branch, P.O. Box 9413 Stn. Prov. Gov’t, Victoria, BC  V8W 9V1. 

Can it be delivered in person to Ministry of Finance?
 Yes, if urgent, please contact 250-387-3364 to make arrangements.

Can I fax it to the Ministry of Finance?
 Yes, the fax number is 250-953-0462.

Do you also need the original document?
3CMB will require the original garnishing order prior to the disbursement of funds.

  1. Who can answer my questions about preparing a Garnishing Order?

3CMB does not provide legal advice so it is recommended to contact your legal department or local court house for assistance.  3CMB is responsible for the administration of orders received.

  1. I received a call from a creditor asking about the status of a payment for a Garnishing Order.  Who should I refer them to?

Any inquiries should be directed to the applicable courthouse as that is where 3CMB sends the funds for remittance to the creditor.

  1. Where in CPPM can I find more information on legal encumbrance?

Information on legal encumbrance can be found at this link http://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/fmb/manuals/FAP/FAP_E.htm

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Unclaimed Property

  1. What is the Unclaimed Property program?

This program authorized by the Unclaimed Property Act makes provisions for uniting owners with their lost property.  Examples include unpaid wages, forgotten deposits in credit unions, court trust funds and several other sources.  The Office of the Comptroller General is responsible for interpretation of policy and legislation.

To search whether you have any unclaimed property, you can go to www.unclaimedpropertybc.ca and click on the search link.  The BC Unclaimed Property Society was formed to make location efforts and help reunite owners with their lost property.  They can also be contacted at 604-662-3518

  1. What are my obligations as a holder of unclaimed property?

Sections 8–13 of the Unclaimed Property Act document your primary obligations.   These include making a search when property becomes unclaimed and maintaining a data base of unclaimed property held.  Section 12 provides for voluntary transfer of unclaimed property to the BC Unclaimed Property Society (the administrator) if you do not wish to maintain the data base required by Section 11. 

Section 8 of the Regulations describes classes of property, circumstances, dates and threshold amounts that pertain to various classes of property.

  1. What should I do if I receive a letter from the BC Unclaimed Property Society?

The Society undertakes location efforts to find the owners of unclaimed property they hold.  The purpose of the letter is to confirm whether you are the same person whose name appears in their data base, and the letter will ask you to provide evidence that you are the owner of property they hold.  If you are in doubt about the authenticity of a letter you can inquire with the Office of the Comptroller General, Financial Management Branch, Kevin Herkel at (250)387-8183.

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