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Legislature getting new financial boss

Sep 26 2012

The B.C. legislature's financial boss has lost his job, after a series of critical reports into the management of the capital building.

Legislative comptroller Dan Arbic has been laid off and his position eliminated as part of a reorganization, clerk Craig James said Tuesday.

The legislature's finances will now be handled by a new executive financial officer, a job that requires "a higher skill level," James said.

"An executive financial officer is a position which brings to bear a greater degree of administrative and financial skill that is required," he said.

The move comes almost two months after Auditor General John Doyle released a scathing report into the financial management of the legislature, where a committee of MLAs is supposed to be overseeing a $70-million budget that includes everything from security to politician salaries and expenses.

Doyle's report zeroed in on inadequate financial practices at the legislature, which were overseen by the comptroller's office.

Shortly after Doyle's report was released, Speaker Bill Barisoff described one of the main issues as a personality conflict between Arbic and Doyle, which Doyle has denied.

James said the restructuring wasn't directly a result of the auditor general's report.

The changes were suggested in an organizational review done by former auditor general Arn van Iersel in 2011, and have been months in the making, he said.

Nonetheless, both Doyle and van Iersel were consulted and "wholeheartedly embrace" the changes, James said.

"John Doyle's report reinforces my view that this structure is a good structure," he said.

The legislature's interim executive financial officer is Bob Faulkner, an official from the auditor general's office who is temporarily seconded to the legislature, James said.

Paul Cumberland, a former comptroller general official and financial analyst in the Justice Ministry, has also been seconded to the legislature's financial services office, James said.

The committee of MLAs that oversees the legislature promised last month to begin providing more detailed accounts of MLA travel and constituency expenses, in the wake of the auditor general's report.

Travel expenses will start going online in October, James said. The legislative assembly is also working to process expense information for MLA constituencies, including office expenses and salaries, while also co-operating with the auditor general on a planned audit of those books, he said.

"It's a huge change, it's much more accountability and transparency."

Doyle is expected to meet in person with Liberal and NDP MLAs on the legislative management committee next month to walk them through his audit.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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