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ANAO Opinions is published to provide audit clients with information on developments in financial reporting and disclosure, together with details of recently completed performance audits and Better Practice Guides. It also outlines those audits scheduled for completion in the immediate future.
This is the third edition of an ANAO publication that provides information to Commonwealth organisations on the full range of ANAO auditing services. In addition to providing audit clients with information on developments in financial reporting and disclosure, Opinions provides details of recently completed performance audits and better practice guides as well as outlining those audits scheduled for completion in the immediate future.
The Report summarised major issues in relation to financial systems, controls and processes from examinations of major Commonwealth agencies arising from the interim phase of their financial statements for the financial year 1999-2000.
The objective of the audit was to examine program management in the Training and Youth Division of the Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs. In broad terms, the audit focused on the management frameworks at both Divisional and program level. Three of the Division's programs were selected for more detailed review as follows:
The objective of this follow-up audit was to assess whether Defence had taken appropriate action on recommendations made in the ANAO's 1995 audit report on Management Audit Branch (MAB), which is responsible for internal audit in Defence, and to assess whether the internal audit function in Defence could be improved.
The objective of the audit was to form an opinion on the adequacy of the Indigenous Land Corporation's (ILC's) operations and performance in: assisting Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to acquire land; and assisting Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to manage indigenous-held land; so as to provide economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits for Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders.
The overall objective of the survey was to assess key aspects of fraud control arrangements in place across the APS against Commonwealth Law Enforcement Board (CLEB) guidelines. This assessment aimed to provide assurance to Parliament that agencies had a suitable framework in place to assist in effectively preventing and dealing with fraud and to indicate to APS agencies any areas for improvement identified in the survey.
The objective of the follow-up audit was to review the effectiveness of the DETYA International Services (DIS) cost recovery operational model. The initial audit of DIS was undertaken in 1997-98 (Audit Report No.35).
The audit reviewed the High Wealth Individuals Taskforce, a comprehensive compliance program with the Australian Taxation Office. The objective of the audit was to examine and report on the management and operations of the taskforce. In doing so, the audit reviewed the Australian Taxation Office's own evaluation of the taskforce and assessed whether, and to what extent, the taskforce delivered the outcomes specified by the Government.
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.
Mr P.J. Barrett (AM) - Auditor-General for Australia, presented at the Government in Excellence Summit 2000 - Reinventing Government - A Manifesto for Achieving Excellence and Managing for Results; Singapore
The audit reviewed the management of the first round of Job Network contracts, which focused on Job Matching, Job Search Training and Intensive Assistance. The objective of the audit was to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business's management of the first round of employment services contracts. A key part of this examination was to assess the Department's level of confidence that the program was meeting government objectives based on performance and management information.
The objective of the audit was to determine whether Centrelink's planning, monitoring and costing arrangements provide a sound basis to underpin its delivery of quality, cost effective customer services.
The audit reviewed the effectiveness and probity of the policy development processes and implementation of improved access to Magnetic Resonance Imaging services. The objective of the audit was to examine and report on the effectiveness and probity of the processes involved in:
(a) the development and announcement of the proposal to improve access to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) services announced in the 1998 Budget, including negotiation with the diagnostic imaging profession; and
(b) the registration of 'eligible providers' and 'eligible equipment' to enable the payment of claims for MRI services on the Medicare Benefits Schedule
This is the first edition of a new ANAO publication which will provide information to Commonwealth organisations on the full range of ANAO auditing services. Opinions replaces the previous ANAO publication Financial Reporting Bulletins. In addition to providing audit clients with information on developments in financial reporting and disclosure, Opinions will provide details of recently completed performance audits and better practices guides as well as outlining those audits scheduled for completion in the immediate future.
The Commonwealth has significant involvement in national emergency management arrangements through its roles in planning, coordination between agencies, operational response, financial support, education and training, public awareness and research activities. The objectives of this performance audit were to identify the Commonwealth's current emergency management arrangements; to provide assurance to Parliament concerning the adequacy of the arrangements; and to highlight areas for improvement.
Tactical fighter operations (TFOs) form the basis of Australia's current military capability to ensure air superiority. Air superiority over the Australian territory and maritime approaches is an essential element in Australia's defence strategy. The audit objectives were to:
assess whether the resources used to provide the F/A-18 tactical fighter force operational capability are managed cost-effectively; and
identify areas for improvement in the coordination, planning and practices employed in administration of tactical fighter operations.
The audit reviewed the coordination of export development and promotion activities across Commonwealth agencies. The objective of the audit was to assess the extent to which export development and promotion activities are managed in a coordinated manner to maximise their effectiveness and transparency, and to minimise duplication. Particular attention was given to:
Austrade's role in coordinating and advising on the development of export programs across Commonwealth agencies; and
the design, delivery and evaluation of programs consistent with the Mortimer review design criteria agreed by Government.
The audit reviewed the construction of facilities for the Australian Defence Force and the Department of Defence by the Defence Estate Organisation. The objective of the audit was to assess the efficiency and administrative effectiveness of the Organisation's project delivery function, highlighting effective practice and, where appropriate, making practical recommendations to enhance facilities project management. The main projects examined were the facilities required for the Army Presence in the North and the Russell Hill Redevelopment.
The audit reviewed the retention of military personnel that are managed by the Australian Defence Force which comprises the three Services. The objective of the audit was to review the management of personnel retention within the ADF with a view to evaluating the measures Defence has in place to monitor and control the flow of trained personnel from the Services
The audit reviewed the Commonwealth funding provided under the Home and Community Care Act 1985, for a range of personal, health and domestic services to frail aged and other people with disabilities and their carers. The objective of the audit was to form an opinion on the Department of Health and Aged Care's administration of the Home and Community Care program in particular to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of the services.
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.
The objective of the performance audit was to assess the administrative effectiveness of DIMA's business entry program against the background of the Business and Temporary Entry program objective, with particular regard to whether:
the existing performance management mechanisms and compliance monitoring strategies support the achievement of program outcomes and outputs;
the quality of decision-making;
business processes facilitate prompt visa decision-making consistent with program objectives; and
decision-making support mechanisms promote robust and timely decision-making.
Industry levies play a significant role in the provision of many public services and fund a range of activities undertaken by regulatory bodies such as the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), through to financing reform of the Australian waterfront labour force. The objectives of this audit were to assess:
the coverage, revenue and expenses of non-primary industry levies;
the effectiveness of selected entities' financial management of non-primary industry levies; and
areas of better administrative practice relating to the financial management of non-primary industry levies.
The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is the Commonwealth's principal revenue collection agency. In 1998-99, the ATO accounted for total tax revenue of $135.3 billion. The objective of this audit was to review the ATO's administration of penalties, with particular emphasis on its corporate governance framework and issues relating to consistency, effectiveness and accountability of penalty administration. In particular, the audit examined the administration of two penalty types, Late Lodgement and Tax Shortfall, as case studies.
The audit objective was to form an opinion on the Department of Veterans' Affairs administration of its activities to maintain and enhance the health and independence of veterans and war widows in their homes and in the community.
The examined the $1 billion Federation Fund program, which was established by the Government to mark the Centenary of Federation. The objectives of the examination were to assess the:
extent to which the administration of the FCHP program complied with better practice in the assessment of applications, especially in relation to the transparency and rigour of the decision-making process;
equity of the geographic spread of grants to States and electorates; and
process for the announcement of the results of grant applications.
The objective of this performance audit was to assess the effectiveness and consistency of risk management processes undertaken by the Australian Taxation Office in administering individual taxpayer refunds.
In a military context, individual readiness refers to the ability of an individual member to be deployed, within a specified notice period, on operations, potentially in a combat environment, to perform the specific skills in which he or she has been trained. Individual readiness is the foundation on which military preparedness is built. Maintenance of a specified level of individual readiness in peacetime (along with other factors such as equipment readiness and collective training) influences the speed with which personnel can deploy on operations. The objective of this audit is to ensure that members can be deployed on operations, potentially in a combat environment, to perform their specific skills within a notice period of 30 days.
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 Commonwealth management and regulation of plasma fractionation. The audit objectives were to:
assess the administrative and financial effectiveness of the Department of Health and Aged Care's contract management of the PFA;
assess whether the TGA's implementation of post sale regulatory arrangements adequately protects the community's interests; and
assess the extent to which agencies have implemented the recommendations made in Audit Report No.14 1995-96 concerning funding of plasma products and regulation of plasma products manufactured under the PFA.
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 objectives of this audit were to improve: the accountability of the Australian Taxation Office to Parliament and the Government by the provision of advice that follows up on the ATO's implementation of the previous ANAO Report; and on the recommendations of the then Joint Committee of Public Accounts arising from its consideration of that Report and the efficiency, effectiveness and equity of debt collection by the ATO.
This Report brings together the results of the audits of the financial statements of all Commonwealth organisations (that is, agencies and statutory authorities), including the Commonwealth Government of Australia consolidated financial statements for the period ended 30 June 1999.
Special Benefit is a social security income support payment for people who are unable to support themselves or their dependents, and who are not otherwise entitled to any other income support payment. Its objective is to ensure that such people have adequate levels of income. The objective of the audit was to assess the extent to which new claims for Special Benefit had been determined in compliance with the Social Security Act, the Guide to the Act and other relevant guidelines, and whether Centrelink and FaCS had appropriate procedures to help ensure such compliance.
The audit reviewed the operations of the Civil Aviation Authority (CASA), which has prime responsibility for regulating aviation safety in Australia. The audit objectives were to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the management systems and procedures used by CASA to ensure compliance with regulatory controls by Air Operator's Certificate holders operating passenger-carrying aircraft within High Capacity Regular Public Transport; Low Capacity Regular Public Transport and charter industry sectors; and Certificate of Approval holders. Aviation safety compliance includes entry control, surveillance and enforcement.
Government service delivery through the Internet presents both significant opportunities and challenges in the delivery of on-line services. Depending on the level of sophistication of the application, the Internet allows Commonwealth agencies to publish information, interact with clients in the exchange of information, and/or transact business electronically. The over-all objective of this audit was to determine Commonwealth agencies' preparedness to achieve the Government's goal of all appropriate services being Internet-deliverable by 2001. The audit sought to assess:
the extent to which agencies considered that they would be able to achieve that goal;
what type of services agencies were delivering or planning to deliver on the Internet; and
whether agencies had identified barriers and possible solutions to that delivery.
The audit reviewed the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement (CSHA). CSHA is a joint arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States under which both the Commonwealth and the States contribute funding in the form of grants, which are used by State Housing Authorities to provide a variety of housing assistance programs to households on low incomes and those with special needs. The overall objective of the audit was to assess and report to Parliament on how effectively the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS - formerly the Department of Social Security) administered the CSHA and to identify any areas where improvements could be made.
The Superannuation Guarantee, which came into effect on 1 July 1992, was introduced to reduce reliance on the age pension as a means of funding retirement for individuals. The objective of the performance audit was to review the ATO's administration of the Superannuation Guarantee and to identify appropriate opportunities for improvement.
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.
This audit examined the management of contracts for business support processes in eight Commonwealth organisations-six operating under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997, and two operating under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. The objectives of this audit were to:
provide assurance on the effectiveness of the management of contracted business support processes in selected organisations; and
identify and disseminate better practices in related contract management.
The Department of Defence spends some $2.4 billion a year on major equipment acquisition projects. The audit objective was to assess Defence's arrangements for higher-level management of major equipment acquisition projects. The principal aim was to formulate practical recommendations that would both enhance Defence's management of major acquisition projects and provide a degree of assurance about its ongoing apparent capacity to do so efficiently and effectively.
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.
This report summarises issues regarding financial systems, controls and processes from examinations of major Commonwealth organisations as part of the audits of their financial statements. It raises significant issues warranting attention to improve the quality of the underlying control structures that support public sector financial performance and accountability.
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.
The objective of this audit was to assess the systems put in place by Centrelink to protect data privacy. The audit reviewed the adequacy of the policies, procedures and the administrative framework associated with data privacy, and the computer systems that are used to store and disseminate data. The ANAO also examined compliance with legislative requirements.
This audit was a follow-on to Audit Report No.21 1997-98 Protective Security, which reviewed, among other things, information security other than computer and communications security, against the policy and procedures outlined in the 1991 PSM. That audit found inconsistencies in the identification and marking of classified information and weaknesses in the handling and storage of classified information, as well as other breakdowns impacting on information security.
The audit reviewed the productivity and client service of IP Australia, a division of the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, which provides intellectual property rights in respect of patents, trade marks and designs. The objective of the audit was to examine the effectiveness of IP Australia's management of productivity and client service.
The audit reviewed fraud control arrangements in the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs. The objective of this audit was to establish whether the Department had developed a sound fraud control framework by examining the arrangements for: · policy and planning; · performance assessment; · quality assurance; and · training and awareness raising.
All persons, other than Australian nationals, are required to hold a visa to enter and stay in Australia. This audit's focus is on the entry component of the visa process and specifically the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). The ETA is an electronically-stored authority for travel, which facilitates the entry of tourists and short-term business travellers from countries where the risk of non-compliance with visa conditions is low, that is, in countries classified as ‘low risk'. The objective of the performance audit was to assess the administrative effectiveness of the ETA.
The effective use of financial information is a critical component of an organisation's performance management framework. The appropriate combination of financial and non-financial data reflects overall organisational performance, and performance at program and work unit levels. The objective of this audit was to assess what financial information is currently used, who uses it and how well it is used. The audit also assessed whether the current processes for defining, accumulating and producing financial information were appropriate for the new accrual based performance management framework, which is to be in place for 1999/2000.
The audit reviewed the implementation of the purchaser/provider arrangements between the Department of Health and Aged Care and Centrelink. The objective of the audit was to determine the administrative effectiveness of the implementation of the service delivery arrangements between Centrelink and the Department by examining project planning for, and management of, the implementation, and the establishment of on-going purchaser/provider arrangements.