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The purpose of the Australian National Audit Office 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 adopts a range of communication practices to strengthen the impact of its work and facilitate the sharing of audit insights. Communication practices had included the publication of better practice guides on aspects of Commonwealth administration, for the information of Australian Government entities.
The independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation recommended that the ANAO take the opportunity to review whether there is a continuing need to develop and maintain separate guidance, where regulators and policy owners have developed or are developing policy guidance material. The ANAO consulted the Australian Parliament and public sector entities, including audit committees within these entities, about the future of better practice guides. The feedback received was that where another entity has produced, or will produce, a similar resource and has committed to continue to do so, the ANAO could add more value by monitoring the effectiveness of this resource. On this basis, the ANAO decided to discontinue and cease distribution of a range of better practice guides from 1 July 2017. Refer to our previously published message from July 2017 (below) for more information about the guides that were removed at this time.
It was also determined in July 2017 that the ANAO would retain three guides and withdraw three guides following a transition period:
Guides to be retained
Guides to be withdrawn following a transition period
Successful Implementation of Policy Initiatives
Public Sector Financial Statements
Public Sector Audit Committees
Developing and Managing Contracts
Public Sector Governance
Since July 2017, the ANAO has continued to work with policy owners as they have developed or revised their guidance material in relation to the six remaining guides.
In April 2018 we sought feedback from the accountable authorities of policy-owning entities on our intention to withdraw the six remaining guides. All relevant entities supported the removal of the guides, although the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet raised that the outcome of the work being conducted by the APS Reform Committee may lead to new guidance which supersedes the Successful Implementation of Policy Initiatives guide.
In May 2018 the Auditor-General wrote to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) seeking the Committee’s feedback on the proposal to withdraw the remaining better practice guides. The Committee advised:
the JCPAA has no overall objection to the withdrawal of the Better Practice Guides from the ANAO website. We note the ANAO’s commitment to continue to monitor the effectiveness of the replacement guidance material, as appropriate, under its audit program. We further appreciate that the ANAO’s Audit Insights now provide information on audit issues and examples of good practice, as identified through financial statement and performance audit work, by way of shared learnings for all Commonwealth entities.
Considering the feedback from the JCPAA and policy-owning entities’ support, the remaining guides have now been removed from the ANAO website:
- Successful Implementation of Policy Initiatives
- Public Sector Audit Committees
- Public Sector Governance
- Public Sector Financial Statements
- Developing and Managing Contracts
- Administering Regulation
In 2017-18 the ANAO developed audit insights, a new product which identifies and discusses common recurring issues, shortcomings and good practice examples, identified through our financial statement and performance audit work. The objective of audit insights is consistent with the objective of better practice guides: improved public sector administration.
The ANAO will continue to monitor the effectiveness of guidance material, as appropriate, under our audit program.
If you require access to the withdrawn better practice guides listed above, you can find them through the National Library of Australia’s Australian Government Web Archive.
Please direct enquiries through our contact page.