Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ridley Terminals gets mixed reviews from Auditor General report on governance and oversight

One of the North Coast's Industrial giants was under the microscope of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada recently with the Independent Auditor providing the results of its Special Examination to the Ridley Terminal Board of Directors in February of this year.

The review provides for a glimpse into some of the behind the scenes operational themes and relationships between the Industrial Terminal and the Federal Transport Canada department, the federal body which oversees the Board of Directors governance of the coal and soon to be LPG terminals work.

The report delivers a number of areas of concern that the Auditor General has raised some red flags for further attention on for both the RTI Board and Transport Canada.

A process that RTI's newly appointed Chair Michael McPhie notes has already been put in motion.

In a letter posted to the RTI website as part of the full release this month of the Auditor General's report, Mr. McPhie notes that over the course of the last year, Ridley Terminals and Transport Canada have worked together in a more collaborative way than in previous years.

Advising that as part of that collaboration a plan is to be developed that will include a more formal governance process for the Board, management and Transport Canada to implement.

Ridley Terminals Chair Michael McPhie's comments related to the recently
released report on RTI from the Auditor General
(click to enlarge)

That renewed commitment to collaboration is going to be a welcome note for the Auditor Generals office, as when it comes to how things worked in the past, the report suggests that there doesn't appear to have been a lot of communication between the Board and Transport Canada in recent years.

Along with the poor communication skills, the report also highlights a number of concerns and discrepancies and provides for a number of examples when it comes to specific operational and governance issues related to  the day to day duties for the facility.

The Ridley review offers up a comprehensive look at the Terminal operations, providing some history as to its past operations, its status as a Crown Corporation and its mandate to construct, own and operate docks, terminals, elevators, warehouses, storage facilities and equipment to store and deliver bulk commodities.

The report consists of three key elements, Findings, Recommendations and Responses.

The overview also puts a focus on a number of areas where there are concerns expressed related to corporate governance both for the Board at Ridley and from Transport Canada.

The Overall message delivered on page three of the Report sets the tone for much of the rest of the documentation, which found concerns related to governance, strategic planning, performance measurement and reporting.

The opening notes also put a focus on areas of human resources practices, board oversight and what the Auditor General report notes was a lack of advance government approval for a diversification project.

Transport Canada gets some significant attention as well for a lack of support in some important areas, with the Federal Department taken to task when it comes to oversight and clear strategic direction for RTI.

The Report provides for six Recommendations and Responses, four related to RTI's corporate governance, with the remaining two directed towards Transport Canada and its oversight on the Prince Rupert terminal facility.

(To view all of the above passages click on each
individual page to enlarge

There is also a listing of some of the detailed findings on Corporate Management practices and Management of Operations.

Those findings are examined under three assessment guidelines, Meet the Criteria, Meet the Criteria, with improvement needed and Did Not Meet the criteria.

Those results included:

Corporate Management practices

Corporate Governance

The report is somewhat critical of how RTI has functioned in the past, among some of the notes; citing incomplete conflict of interest declarations, the lack of an approved corporate plan, poor communication related to a proposed sale process, poor attention to required procedures on committees and reporting procedures

Board Independence -- Met the criteria, with Improvement needed
Providing Strategic Direction -- Did Not Meet the criteria
Board Oversight -- Did Not meet the criteria
Board Appointments and Competencies -- Did Not Meet the criteria

Strategic Planning

One of the key findings under strategic planning includes a note related to the process that RTI took related to the diversification project of a Liquid Gas project, with the report noting that the Corporation had entered into a long-term agreement for the project without having obtained advance approval from the Government of Canada.

Strategic Planning Process -- Met the criteria, with improvement needed
Performance Measurement -- Did Not meet the criteria
Performance Monitoring and Reporting -- Did not meet the criteria
Diversification -- Did not meet the criteria

Risk Management

The report identifies areas of concern related to the potential impact of environmental risks and mitigation strategies to help manage risks.

Risk identification and assessment -- Met the criteria, with improvement needed
Risk mitigation -- Met the criteria, with improvement needed
Risk monitoring and reporting -- Did not meet the criteria

Human Resources

The report is critical as to how RTI is planning for the succession for senior management positions.

Succession planning -- Did not meet the criteria
Compensation -- Did not meet the criteria

Management of Operations 

Service Delivery

RTI fared the best in the review when it comes to delivering on its services, though cautionary flags are noted for documenting budget items and maintaining assets.

Service management -- Met the criteria
Performance monitoring and reporting -- Met the criteria
Healthy and safe workplace -- Met the criteria
Operational planning -- Met the criteria, with improvement needed
Capital asset management -- Met the criteria, with improvement needed

You can examine the detailed review from each of the above from the document with the findings listed on pages 18 to 22.

The Conclusion to the report provides for a short synopsis of the overall review, citing the opinion that there were significant deficiencies when it comes to Ridley Terminal Inc's systems and practices.

(click to enlarge)

As part of their outline as to how they conducted the audit, the report notes that Ridley Terminal's management refused to confirm that the audit report was factually accurate.

That theme was expanded on as part of introduction to the report.

(click to enlarge)

You can explore the full range of the Auditor General report and its findings here.

For more items related to Ridley Terminals see our archive page here.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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