Engineers and Geoscientists BC

Firm Audit Program

The Compliance Audit program of registrant firms is governed by section 63 of the Professional Governance Act ("PGA") and section 8.7 of the Bylaws

Goals of the Program 

The primary purpose of a compliance audit for registrant firms is to assess the overall compliance of registrant firms with regulatory requirements of the PGA, Regulations, the Bylaws, and Standards of Engineers and Geoscientists BC, as well as those imposed by other relevant laws, codes, and standards. All of which can be found here.

What can Firms Expect and How to Comply

Compliance audits are process-based and are intended to assist the registrant firm in understanding how their documented policies and procedures are working in practice, and to identify areas where improvements can be made to mitigate risk and streamline their processes. 

Compliance audits are not intended to assess technical practice, they are intended to be a constructive and educational process.  During execution, Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s Assessors (Compliance Auditors) ensure consistency, and compliance with the three pillars of professional practice: 

  • Ethics;
  • Quality management; and 
  • Continuing education and competency. 

Initial compliance audits are randomly selected and are intended to serve as a pre-screening mechanism, allowing registrant firms to demonstrate their effective implementation of and adherence to requirements. The initial compliance audit provides an assessment of the risks associated with a registrant firm’s practice. This allows routine compliance audits to be scheduled based on information and analysis specific to the assessed risk associated with each registrant firm. 

Compliance Auditors carry out the audit which includes interviews with the Responsible Registrant(s) and any other required staff, third parties, etc., and prepares a report which can include the following findings (in ascending order of seriousness):

  • Opportunities for Improvement (OFIs) are extremely useful and seen as value-added by registrant firms. OFIs indicate an area or topic where the registrant firm’s procedures meet required standards but may pose future risks of non-conformance. These observations can help improve practice processes and mitigate risk. Sometimes, OFIs are provided as examples of best practices.

    Opportunities for Improvement do not require action by the registrant firm being audited, they only need to be acknowledged on the firm's audit portal.

  • Minor Non-Conformance(s) are a failure to meet an applicable regulatory requirement(s) which is not systemic, and for which the Assessor does not have reason to believe there is a significant risk of harm to the environment or the public. Minor non-conformance(s) are reported as Corrective Action Requests (CARs) and requires the registrant firm to submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAPs) to correct any minor non-conformance(s). The CAP should specify the root cause, an action plan to prevent recurrence of the non-conformance, and a time frame by which the CAP must be implemented.
  • Major Non-Conformance(s) are a failure to meet an applicable regulatory requirement(s) on a systemic scale, and/or a finding for which the Assessor has reason to believe there is a significant risk of harm to the environment or the public. The Audit file is referred to the Audit and Practice Review Committee (APRC), who after reviewing the assessor’s report of the compliance audit, any written response from the registrant firm, and any recommendations from the assessor, must do one of the following:
    1. prescribe corrective action that the registrant firm must complete within a specified time period which is not limited to the corrective action originally prescribed by the assessor, and which may be followed by a subsequent compliance audit or audits of the registrant firm;
    2. authorize a practice review of the registrant firm;
    3. provide information about the compliance audit to the Investigation Committee; or
    4. close the compliance audit file and provide written notice to the registrant firm.

Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s approach to regulation of firms, including compliance audits, is informed by widely accepted best practices such as the standards set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 

Which Firms can be Audited? 

All registrant firms are eligible for an initial mandatory compliance audit. Following the completion of the initial audit, registrant firms are eligible for routine compliance audits. Registrant firms will be selected for compliance audits using risk-based criteria and a random selection process. Currently, 40% of the selected firms will operate in industries most heavily represented in the investigation and practice advice data. This includes structural, geotechnical, sewerage, mechanical/HVAC, fire protection, electrical and civil engineering, equipment safety, manufacturing, natural resources, and building sciences. The remaining 60% will be selected randomly from other areas of practice.

What is the Difference Between a Firm Audit and a Firm Practice Review? 

A compliance audit takes a proactive process-based approach and is intended to assist the registrant firm in understanding how their documented policies and procedures are working in practice. A compliance audit also identifies areas where improvements can be made to mitigate risk and streamline the firm’s processes.

A practice review is a reactive process that is only undertaken when significant deviations from the expected standards of practicing registrant firms are identified, punitive rather than corrective action can be taken. The APRC, Registrar, or the Investigation Committee may authorize a practice review of the registrant firm, if the registrant firm consents or information is obtained through an audit, a complaint, another practice review, or an investigation that indicates the PGA or Bylaws have been contravened.

Resources: 

Send an email to [email protected] for questions about compliance audits for firms.