The Auditor-General is assisted by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in delivering against the mandate established by the Auditor-General Act 1997. Under the Act, the ANAO consists of the Auditor-General and staff.

Purpose of the ANAO

The ANAO’s purpose is to support accountability and transparency in the Australian Government sector through independent reporting to the Parliament, and thereby contribute to improved public sector performance.

The ANAO delivers its purpose under the Auditor-General’s mandate in accordance with the Auditor-General Act 1997, the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the Public Service Act 1999.

The ANAO corporate plan outlines how the ANAO intends to deliver against its purpose. The plan sets out the approach and priorities over a four year period and includes performance measures that provide information about what the ANAO expects to achieve. The performance measures are reviewed and reported on annually.

For more information about the ANAO’s governance framework, see the governance page.

Work of the ANAO

The primary role of the Auditor-General is to assist the Australian Parliament in its role of scrutinising the exercise of authority and the expenditure of public funds by the Executive arm of the Commonwealth of Australia. 

The ANAO’s primary relationship is therefore with the Australian Parliament, particularly the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA). The JCPAA is the ANAO’s oversight committee under the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951.

The ANAO supports the work of the Parliament by providing input to the Auditor-General’s independent assurance and opinions, and by providing information, assistance and briefings to parliamentarians and committees of the Parliament.

Through the audit and related services provided to the Parliament by the Auditor-General and ANAO, the Australian public can have confidence that the Auditor-General is examining and reporting on the actions of Commonwealth entities and whether public resources are being used economically, efficiently, effectively and ethically.

For more information about the ANAO’s relationship with the Parliament see the relationships page.

The ANAO supports the Auditor-General’s conduct of the full range of audits and related services under the Act. These include:

  • providing assurance on the fair presentation of financial statements of the Australian Government and its controlled entities by providing independent audit opinions;
  • presenting two reports annually addressing the outcomes of the financial statements audits of Australian Government entities and the consolidated financial statements of the Australian Government;
  • performance audits of Australian Government programs and entities, including reporting key learnings for all Australian Government entities;
  • other assurance reviews, including the Defence major projects report and audits by arrangement;
  • reporting directly to the Parliament on any matter, such as information reports; and
  • the publication of audit insights and key learnings from audit work.

The ANAO publishes an annual audit work program in July each year. The purpose of the annual audit work program is to inform the Parliament, Commonwealth entities and the public of the audits the Auditor-General proposes to deliver, covering financial statements, performance audits, and other assurance activities. The program details the rationale for audit work priorities and is designed to anticipate and respond to current and emerging risks and challenges impacting on public administration.

The ANAO adopts a consultative approach in developing the annual audit work program, which has careful regard to the priorities of the Parliament as advised by the JCPAA, the views of Commonwealth entities and other stakeholders. The final audit program is determined by the Auditor-General.

For more information see the annual audit work program, and audit insights: the Auditor-General’s annual audit work program.

The Auditor-General has extensive powers of access to documents and information to support the exercise of functions under the Act, and the ANAO’s work is governed by relevant legal requirements, including auditing standards established by the Auditor-General. The ANAO Auditing Standards incorporate the standards made by the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board as applied by the auditing profession in Australia, and also incorporate key requirements of the International Standards of Supreme Audit Institutions (ISSAI). In accordance with the applicable standards, performance audits and financial statements audits are designed to provide a reasonable level of assurance. A number of reviews, including the Auditor-General’s opinion included in the annual Defence major projects report, provide a more limited level of assurance.

The ANAO aims to support the delivery of an integrated program of high-quality Auditor-General reports that are timely, cost-effective and conducted in accordance with the ANAO’s Auditing Standards. Through this program, the ANAO aims to meet the needs and expectations of the Parliament and contribute to improved public sector performance.

For more information about how the ANAO conducts audits see the audit process.

Values

The ANAO upholds the Australian Public Service (APS) values as set out in the Public Service Act 1999. In addition to the APS values, the ANAO places particular focus on respect, integrity and excellence — values that align with the APS values and address the unique aspects of the ANAO’s business and operating environment. The ANAO’s values guide the office in performing its role objectively, with impartiality and in the best interests of the Parliament.

Organisation structure

The ANAO is located in Canberra and employs approximately 350 staff. ANAO staff come from a range of disciplines. Many ANAO staff have commerce, accounting, finance or economics qualifications, but many come from other backgrounds, including public policy and administration, management, law, social sciences, and information technology.

The ANAO is organised into five functional areas:

  • Assurance Audit Services Group provides independent assurance on the financial statements and financial administration of all Australian Government entities.
  • Corporate Management Group leads corporate strategy and change for the ANAO. It also provides services that enable the delivery of the ANAO’s purpose.
  • Performance Audit Services Group conducts performance audits, audits of performance statements, assurance reviews and other information reports.
  • Professional Services and Relationships Group provides technical accounting, audit and legal advice and support to the Auditor-General, establishes, manages and monitors the implementation of the quality assurance framework, and manages the ANAO’s external relations.
  • Systems Assurance and Data Analytics Group provides IT audit and data analytics support for the ANAO’s audit work.

The organisational and senior management structure of the ANAO at 25 October 2018 is shown below.