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Motor vehicle chaos at the GN

System, not staff, is to blame

By JIM BELL

The Government of Nunavut’s under-staffed and under-supported regional Motor Vehicles office in Iqaluit is in a serious state of administrative disarray, says a consultant’s audit report obtained by Nunatsiaq News.

The consultant, Jeanne McHardy of Alexandria, Ont., said she found a building that is “totally insecure” and a huge backlog of unfinished work dating back to September 2005. The report was delivered to the GN’s Director of Motor Vehicles, Lorna Gee, this past January.

McHardy visited the Iqaluit Motor Vehicles office last year from Sept. 13 to Sept. 25 and from Oct. 25 to Nov. 22 to do an audit and review. When contacted by Nunatsiaq News this week, McHardy did not want to offer any comment.

“I would have to speak to the director before I could speak to the media. That’s not part of my contract,” McHardy said.

But her report paints a picture that will be familiar to demoralized and embittered workers throughout the GN who struggle to do their jobs with little support from senior managers, within a system that’s becoming more and more dysfunctional.

McHardy, who does not blame employees for the mess, said the Motor Vehicles office does not have enough people to handle the growing amount of work that flows in and out every day, and that staff do not get proper training.

“Given the size of the office in terms of number of employees (3) it is impossible to attend to all matters effectively and efficiently, as would an entire staff,” she said in her report.

To fix this, she recommends that two more staff people be hired: an assistant manager and a motor vehicle co-ordinator.

And she said that while in Iqaluit, she often had to step in to help existing staff do their jobs.

“I was also frequently required to answer phone inquiries and provide assistance to the issuing clerks due to their inadequate training,” McHardy said in her report.

She points out that it’s demanding work, requiring good knowledge of the territorial Motor Vehicles Act, GN policies and procedures, and federal legislation.

“The proper training of the staff in this office is crucial,” McHardy said, saying she’s willing to offer a training session in the near future for all new staff.

McHardy also found that the Motor Vehicles Division commits routine violations of Nunavut’s Access to Information and Privacy Act, violations of an intergovernmental agreement on driving licences, and violations of various GN policies and directives.

“It was observed that Nunavut law enforcement is being provided with clients’ driving records at no fee. This assistance is illegal under the Privacy Act. Information of this nature is to be provided only when presented with a warrant from the court.”

She found no staff attendance records, leading her to believe that “attendance has not been recorded whatsoever in the last year.”

Even after her second visit, the auditor said the office was in such a “jumble,” she still couldn’t locate missing revenues and do a complete audit.

“In all the years that I have been auditing, the Iqaluit office was at its worst,” McHardy said.

The GN’s Motor Vehicles Division, which is under the Department of Economic Development and Transportation, boasts a decentralized four-person “headquarters” in Gjoa Haven, a four-person regional office in Iqaluit, and a two-person office in Rankin Inlet.

The division’s job is to issue and keep track of driving licences and motor vehicle registrations, and to keep track of information on clients’ driving records.

But much of this private information is not secure, McHardy said.

In addition to the illegal access to information given to law enforcement officers, McHardy cited numerous examples of poor security:

* an alarm system that was never connected;
* numerous documents left in full view;
* an easily accessible storage room;
* computer monitors that can be viewed by the public.

This lack of security also means the office is not protected from fraud or theft.

“The main office is totally insecure at the present time…” McHardy said, saying cleaners leave the door wide open while they are working in other buildings.

McHardy also found:

* an unlocked safe;
* unlocked and unattended cash drawers;
* numerous baskets containing documents and unopened mail, including mail with revenue cheques inside;
* a cash float used to make change for customers was short $300 – and the shortage has not been explained.

Another headache that employees must cope with is inadequate office space.

“Workstations are not pleasant working environments. Issuers are required to be seated to perform transactions and they constantly jam their legs in the keyboard drawers. When they stand up to reach the plates, valid tags or photocopies, they bump into each other,” McHardy said in her report.

She ended her report by saying she hopes that Motor Vehicle staff can soon finish doing a certain procedure called “inventory reconciliation” and various other accounting tasks by March 31.

After that, she said they can start off the 2007-08 fiscal year with a “clean slate.”

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