OTTAWA - A federal watchdog offered taxpayers a long anticipated peephole view into spending on Parliament Hill Wednesday.
But Auditor General Michael Ferguson cautioned there was little shocking in how MPs and senators dispensed their combined $517 million budget each year.
"We didn't find anything in our sample that caused us concern," Ferguson told reporters Wednesday after tabling two reports into spending in the House of Commons and the Senate.
Ferguson's office only performed a broad review of the House of Commons administration and did random anonymous spot checks on some MP and senator's expenses.
Still, the once-over dug up three senators who shopped for trinkets in the Parliament Hill boutique on the public dime, a living expense claim that wasn't properly documented, and a Washington D.C. junket that "provided no details beyond stating that it was for parliamentary business."
Senators operate under the honour principle when it comes to submitting expense claims.
In the lower chamber, Ferguson ferreted out one case where a $600,000 contract was awarded - a later torpedoed - even though it failed to meet a mandatory requirement.
In all, 41 of 59 procurements examined failed to meet the rules set out by the House. Problems with the procurement - which comes with a $60 million budget - included missing documentation and unsigned contracts.
And 7% of MP expense claims checked lacked proper documentation.
Parliamentarians fought tooth-and-nail to keep the watchdog from snooping through their books when former Auditor General Sheila Fraser proposed to inspect their financial records in 2009.
In 2010, MPs bowed to public pressure and allowed the federal auditor to comb through their expenses. After a few months of sober second thought, the senate also caved in.
The brief review left Gregory Thomas from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wondering Wednesday whether there was more sloppy spending to be uncovered.
"They didn't audit members of parliament, they didn't audit MPs' staff, they didn't audit contracts awarded by members of parliament, and they didn't audit the work that goes on in constituency offices," he said.
Ferguson shut the door on any further scrutiny, saying he was satisfied with the result.
The last audit of spending in Parliament took place in 1991.