This past November proved a momentous one for Tara Clemett (BAdmin ’98), when she was appointed Saskatchewan’s Provincial Auditor after serving as Acting Provincial Auditor since July. Originally from a farm near Hodgeville, Saskatchewan, Clemett moved to Regina with her family in 1990, first attending Campbell Collegiate, and then the University of Regina with a major in accounting. Clemett takes on the role of Saskatchewan’s Provincial Auditor with a breadth of experience that spans more than 20 years of audits in areas including financial, performance, IT, healthcare, child welfare advocacy, and the environment. Her busy schedule also includes an active involvement with advisory groups under the Canadian Council of Legislative Auditors – and when she’s not doing that, she can often be found either on or near the ice, coaching ringette. Degrees chatted with Ms. Clemett about teamwork, zebra mussels, and why she loves what she does.
As Provincial Auditor, you’re responsible for keeping a close eye on how Saskatchewan’s public resources are managed and used. What draws you to this type of work?
I have always liked working with numbers, collaborating with people, and being part of a team. I truly believe the work we do at the Office of the Provincial Auditor makes a difference for the people of Saskatchewan. I have participated in various audits at our office that have had a positive impact on improving public administration. Some audits that come to mind include processes around aquatic invasive species, portable computing devices, and mental health services.
Aquatic invasive species?
We conducted an audit at the Ministry of Environment, looking at their processes to prevent the entry and spread of aquatic invasive species in Saskatchewan. Obviously there are other jurisdictions where there are zebra mussels, and other aquatic invasive species that have ended up in their lakes. So if someone is transporting their boats between those lakes and they come to a lake in Saskatchewan, there should be a mechanism that, hopefully, ensures that they’ve cleaned their boat appropriately.
"When I was choosing universities, I knew I wanted to study in Saskatchewan. I thought the University of Regina’s Faculty of Business Administration had great professors and was a strong program, so it just made sense to stay in Regina."
We made a number of recommendations including the need for more awareness around the role the public plays in making sure they prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in our province. I like camping, and we have boat, so when we see the signs everywhere now that say “clean, drain, and dry your boat”, I felt like our office ultimately had a role to play in increasing some of that understanding and awareness.
What do you wish more people knew about this job?
That the job is about more than just numbers – it’s about maintaining strong relationships and providing relevant audit results and recommendations in our public reports. Along with financial audits we also conduct performance audits. We provide our recommendations to the Standing Committees on Public Accounts and Crown and Central Agencies, and we follow up on these recommendations until they are implemented by government agencies and publicly report on progress as we follow-up. And then we keep following up – we go back every two to three years and we determine whether the government agency fixed and addressed whatever we identified as deficiencies or deviations.
How do you feel your time at the University of Regina prepared you for your professional life?
My time at the University of Regina taught me effective communication skills, to manage multiple competing priorities, and to be accountable for my work. I became self-motivated and driven to make the most of my opportunities from attending university. The University of Regina equipped me with skills to assess, apply my knowledge, and act in my future career. Ultimately, my university experience helped me realize I was responsible for my own success.
It’s also your hometown school – was that of particular appeal when you were deciding where to go for university?
I wanted to stay close to home to some degree. When I was choosing universities, I knew I wanted to study in Saskatchewan. I thought the University of Regina’s Faculty of Business Administration had great professors and was a strong program, so it just made sense to stay in Regina.
Also, my involvement in ringette kept me connected to Regina. I really appreciated the opportunity to still be around my friends, have my family support me, be able to play ringette in Regina – and go to university at the same time. I just felt very connected to Regina, so it made sense to stay here.
And you’re still involved with ringette – now as a coach. As a young person, you represented Saskatchewan at nine Canadian Ringette Championships, bringing home four medals.
When did you start playing?
I actually started figure skating first, at age three or four, and then when I was 10-years-old, I started begging my dad to play hockey, and then he actually started (a ringette team) in Hodgeville, where we lived. I started playing competitive ringette as we moved to Regina and played for 13 years. I started playing again when I was 40, played for four more years, until COVID hit, and then I retired. I still go on the ice and help out with coaching. I’m currently a Board member on Ringette Saskatchewan and a coach, and have coached both my daughters in ringette for the past nine years.
Ringette seems like a really tough game. What kind of training does that provide?
It’s not as physical as hockey – or it’s not supposed to be (laughs). It’s supposed to have less contact. It’s different – you have to be able to skate, and then a lot of the strategies of the game that really parallel to basketball. I loved the competition and the teamwork – and that you had to find your role. It was all about being accountable for yourself and understanding what your strengths were, and utilizing them on whatever team you’re on.
What advice would you have liked to have received as a young graduate, starting a career?
Do something you are passionate about. Be a team player. Say yes to things that scare you. Keep learning – think of yourself as lifelong learner. I continue to learn something new every year I work at this office.