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The Commonwealth has significant foreign exchange risk exposures including $A8.4 billion of foreign currency transactions with the Reserve Bank of Australia in 1998-99. Under the Financial Management and Accountability Act and its associated Regulations, all agencies are required to assess and, where possible, manage, foreign exchange risk. The audit reviewed four agencies that have substantial foreign currency payment exposures namely:
the Department of Defence;
the Australian Agency for International Development;
the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and
the Department of Finance and Administration.
The objective of the audit was to identify and assess the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the management of foreign exchange risk across the selected agencies, also to identify opportunities to improve the management of foreign exchange risk, including any associated potential financial savings that could accrue to the Commonwealth.
In late 1996, the Government announced its commitment to establish new facilities for the National Museum of Australia and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies on Acton Peninsula in Canberra. The objectives of the audit were to examine the project's compliance with the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines for the procurement of public works and effectiveness of the project's management.
In November 1998, the Minister for Communications wrote to the Auditor-General requesting an assessment of the actual costs of Phase 1 digital conversion for the ABC and SBS, the sources of funds applied and the efficiency with which the funds had been used before the government considered further funding. The purpose of this limited scope performance audit was to assess a range of financial issues associated with the ABC and SBS conversion to digital broadcasting.
Networking the Nation was established with effect from 1 July 1997 to support activities and projects designed to meet a range of telecommunications needs in regional, rural and remote Australia. Funding is provided by the Regional Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund. The program provides total support of $250 million, of which $50 million was to be allocated annually for the five year period from 1997-98. Funding decisions for grants are the responsibility of an independent Board appointed by the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. The objectives of the audit were to examine the administration of the program with a view to ascertaining the scope for improving administration and to provide assurance on the equity, efficiency and effectiveness of the management and administrative processes applied in the administration of grants under the program.
The audit reviewed the accountability framework and performance information of the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). The objective of the audit was to form an opinion on the efficiency and effectiveness of the ASC: accountability arrangements, focussing on key stakeholders such as the Minister and the Parliament; and management information systems, focussing on performance information, in particular key performance indicators; and its use in resource allocation decision-making.
The audit reviewed collection management practices and management information systems of the National Library of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia and the Australian War Memorial. The objective of the audit was to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the management processes employed in safeguarding national collections.
The Australian Diplomatic Communications Network was developed to provide a secure communication and automation capability for domestic offices and overseas posts. The audit focussed on project management of the ADCNET project, and in particular:
how effectively the ADCNET project was managed;
how effectively project risks were managed; and
the extent to which project management processes have established whether ADCNET meets the specifications set by, and the expectations held by, DFAT, as well as any lessons to be learnt for this and other future projects.
The audit objectives were to report on the efficiency and effectiveness of selected agencies' management of telecommunications services. The specific purpose was to:
identify the potential for more effective management of telecommunications services;
consider the appropriateness of Commonwealth agencies' management of telecommunications services to take advantage of technological opportunities; and
identify the elements of sound administration in the management of telecommunications services.
The audit criteria addressed agencies' performance against benchmarks of sound administrative practice in relation to procurement; planning; business process re-engineering; financial management; and performance management. The audit focussed primarily on telecommunications services, as distinct from capital items and equipment.
The objective of the audit was to review AUSTEL and the Spectrum Management Agency's approaches to service delivery against recognised good practice and to identify opportunities for the new Australian Communications Authority to adopt the relevant features of these approaches in its service delivery.
The ANAO's audit aims were to: examine the efficiency and effectiveness of DFAT's human resource management; and identify good practice, which could position the Department, and other APS agencies, to maximise opportunities afforded by the Government's emerging public sector reform agenda. The audit addressed a range of issues including the effectiveness of HR planning and forecasting, staff selection and deployment, performance management, and the fostering of relevant skills and knowledge.
Following an initial selection through a process of inviting expressions of interest, OGIT issued a restricted Request for Proposal for Human Resource Management Systems and Financial Management Information Systems. OGIT sought the services of the ANAO to provide an opinion on the probity of the methodology and procedures applied in the process of evaluation of tenders for acceptance to the Shared Systems Suite. The ANAO also agreed to review the formal procedures developed by OGIT and to test their operation to enable the ANAO to form an opinion, with a reasonable degree of assurance, on whether the evaluation process accords with the Commonwealth Purchasing Guidelines for open and effective competition and consideration for the development of Australian and New Zealand industry.
The purpose of the audit was to examine the environmental management mechanisms in place across some of the major Commonwealth land management and oversighting entities. In particular, the audit examined Commonwealth environmental management practices to identify current strengths and weaknesses, and provide a framework and direction for the adoption of better practice and continuous improvement. The audit has not been designed to judge past Commonwealth performance using current environmental standards and practices. Rather, the audit focused on encouraging the development of better practice by illustrating the implications and lessons learned from past and present practices.
Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts; Department of Defence; Department of Transport and Regional Development; Department of Administrative Services; Department of Environment, Sport and Territories
The management of Australia's overseas posts has not previously been scrutinised by the ANAO from a performance perspective. This audit is the first in a series planned to examine different aspects of the administration of Australian representation abroad, focusing particularly on DFAT and Austrade, as the agencies responsible for managing almost all overseas posts.
The diversity and complexity of issues at overseas missions of different sizes mean that posts generally cannot be treated as if they were all the same. This audit concentrated on small and medium-sized posts. The findings and conclusions should, therefore, not be regarded as automatically applicable to large posts.