The Auditor-General is responsible, under the Auditor-General Act 1997 (the Act), for providing auditing services to the Parliament and public sector entities. The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) supports the Auditor-General, who is an independent officer of the Parliament.
The ANAO's primary client is the Australian Parliament. Our purpose is to provide the Parliament with an independent assessment of selected areas of public administration, and assurance about public sector financial reporting, administration, and accountability. We do this primarily by conducting performance audits, financial statement audits, and assurance reviews. The ANAO does not exercise management functions or have an executive role. These are the responsibility of entity management.
We also view the Executive Government and public sector entities as important clients. We perform the financial statement audits of all Australian Government controlled entities and seek to provide an objective assessment of areas where improvements can be made in public administration and service delivery. We aim to do this in a constructive and consultative manner. This includes working co-operatively with those with key governance responsibilities in entities, including Audit Committees.
As part of its role, the ANAO seeks to identify and promulgate, for the benefit of the public sector generally, broad messages and lessons identified through our audit activities. The ANAO's Better Practice Guides disseminate lessons on specific aspects of administration. In addition, our newsletter, AUDITFocus, captures succinctly some of our experiences that are likely to be of general interest to public sector managers.
The ANAO has extensive powers of access to Commonwealth documents and information, and its work is governed by its auditing standards, which adopt the standards applied by the auditing profession in Australia. In accordance with these standards, our performance audit, financial statement audit and assurance review reports are designed to provide a reasonable level of assurance. The actual level of assurance provided is influenced by factors such as: the subject matter of the audit, the inherent limitations of internal controls, the use of testing and cost considerations.
The ANAO adopts a consultative approach to its forward audit program, which takes account of the priorities of the Parliament, as advised by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, the views of entities and other stakeholders. The program aims to provide a broad coverage of areas of public administration and is underpinned by a risk-based methodology. The final audit program is determined by the Auditor-General.
The ANAO plays an important professional role by contributing, both nationally and internationally, to the development of auditing standards, professional practices and the exchange of experiences through participation in various peer and professional organisations.