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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.
The objective of this audit was to form an opinion on the adequacy of, and to identify best practice in, Commonwealth agencies' electricity procurement systems and procedures. In doing so, the ANAO also formed an opinion on the level and results of participation by Commonwealth agencies in the National Electricity Market. The audit concentrated on adherence by agencies to the principles of the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines: Core Policies and Principles (March 1998), emphasising the importance of Commonwealth agencies achieving value-for-money (VFM) in their purchasing. VFM is one of the six principles on which the Guidelines are based.
The audit reviewed the operations of the Bureau of Meteorology. The Bureau's functions include the taking and recording of meteorological observations and other observations required for the purposes of meteorology; the forecasting of weather and of the state of the atmosphere; the issue of warnings of weather conditions likely to endanger life or property; the supply, publication and promotion of meteorological information; and cooperation with international meteorological agencies in relation to the functions just listed. The objectives of the audit were to:
use national and international benchmarks to evaluate the Bureau's performance in terms of timeliness, cost and quality of weather services to meet the needs of clients; and
assess how well the Bureau is placed in measuring its outputs/outcomes within the context of the Accrual Budgeting Framework.
The audit reviewed Australian Development Scholarships (ADS). ADS's are the principal mechanism by which Australia provides scholarship assistance for individuals from developing countries to undertake studies at Australian education institutions. The scholarships help to meet the human resource development needs of developing countries and contribute to their development across various sectors. Scholarships also have an important role in fostering and sustaining Australia's relations with developing countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. The objective of the audit was to evaluate AusAID's management of the ADS scheme.
The audit reviewed management of the Commonwealth's role in preparing for, and managing, pest and disease emergencies requiring a rapid response. The audit focused on the role of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry -Australia (AFFA), which is the Commonwealth Department with primary portfolio responsibility for coordinating the national and international response to an emergency. The audit did not address preventative measures such as quarantine and border controls; controlled release of exotic diseases or pests; or emergencies associated with previously known endemic diseases, food safety or chemical residue issues.