Who was minding the ICBC store?

A government internal audit has apparently discovered mismanagement at ICBC. The Crown corporation president is leaving, and it has pledged to chop 135 management positions by June 2014. The report found that between 2007 and 2011 the corporation reduced union ranks by one per cent, but added 32 per cent more management positions. The compensation costs for management increased by 50 per cent over five years, while union compensation costs increased by nine per cent.
In part, the review found, that was because managers had a "generous" bonus plan "with easily met criteria resulting in almost all staff receiving them." Management pay, perqs and benefits were also more generous than other branches of the public sector.
"A culture of cost-containment and financial discipline has been lacking in recent years," the audit found. "ICBC's expense policies are generous when compared to the B.C. public service with exceptions approved by senior management."
Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said he was unhappy, and things had to change. But he's been the minister responsible for ICBC since March 2011. Shirley Bond and others were responsible before him. They could have read the annual reports and asked some questions.
And, of course, the Liberal government appointed the board of directors, including party supporters, who bear responsibility for the corporation's direction.
Then there's the legislature committee on Crown corporations, with MLAs from both parties tasked with providing oversight and direction.
Except the premier's office decides if they can meet. And the Crown corporation committee hasn't met since 2008. (The education committee hasn't met since 2006; the aboriginal affairs committee hasn't met since 2003. MLAs are named to the committees every year, there are important issues they could examine and committees in other jurisdictions are an important part of the democratic process. Not in B.C.)
If the corporation has been mismanaged, it means the government failed in its reponsibility.

And another thing:

The Liberal government's internal disorganization and scandals have played a significant role in these problems.
Since 2007, seven different ministers have been responsible for ICBC - Falcon, Bond, John Van Dongen (now a Conservative), Kash Heed, Rich Coleman, John Les and Iain Black. None of them had time to become knowledgeable, and the board faced a succession of new ministers, none of whom were around long enough to make a difference. It's an irresponsible way to manage a critical Crown corporation, and a symptom of the chaos that has afflicted the province since the 2009 election.


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