You are invited to contribute to the annual audit work program of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO). Please review the draft potential performance audit topic list and tell us what you think.

The Auditor-General is an independent officer of the Parliament whose role is to support accountability and transparency in the Australian Government sector by providing independent reporting to the Parliament. The Auditor-General’s reports assist the Parliament to hold government entities accountable and to drive improvements in public administration.

The Auditor-General is assisted by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to conduct a range of audits in Australian Government entities, such as:

Contributions must relate to the performance or expenditure of Commonwealth public sector entities. The ANAO does not investigate complaints or disputes, review or provide legal decisions, and does not comment on the merits of government policy and legislation.

You can find information about the ANAO’s approach to the development of the performance audit program and planning criteria in an audit insights on the Auditor-General's annual audit work program.

While your contribution will be considered and handled with care, we will not provide you with feedback on your submission. The confidentiality of your contribution may be protected by law (see section 36 of the Auditor-General Act 1997). In addition, any personal information gathered by the ANAO will be treated in accordance with the ANAO Privacy Policy.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Potential performance audit topics

These are the potential performance audit topics proposed for inclusion in the ANAO's Annual Audit Work Program 2021–22. Topics are presented under their respective portfolio. Portfolios are arranged in alphabetical order.

Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Attorney-General's

Australian Taxation Office

Defence

Education, Skills and Employment

Finance

Foreign Affairs and Trade

Health

Home Affairs

Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Prime Minister and Cabinet

Services Australia

Social Services

Treasury

Cross Entity

Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Commonwealth development of the National Waste Policy Action Plan

The National Waste Policy Action Plan 2019 is an agreement between the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, industry and stakeholders that establishes a series of goals and targets to avoid waste and improve resource recovery. These include a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres by 2024, reducing total waste generated in Australia by 10 per cent per person, 80 per cent average resource recovery from all waste streams and halving the amount of organic waste sent to land fill by 2030.

In 2020, the Commonwealth announced $59.6 million to implement its commitments under the plan, alongside $190 million for a Recycling Modernisation Fund to be delivered by states and territories under National Partnership Agreements. Commonwealth commitments under the plan include establishing nationally consistent definitions and specifications by 2020, developing a legislative framework to ban waste exports by 2020, evaluating and improving the product stewardship framework by 2021, and improving and sharing waste data by 2022. This audit would examine the effectiveness of the implementation of the Commonwealth’s commitments under the plan, as well as its arrangements to coordinate the plan’s early delivery.

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s cultural and governance reform

Establishing appropriate governance and culture is critical to organisational performance. Past reviews and audits of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment have found weaknesses in the department’s governance and culture. These include the independent Review of the Regulatory Capability and Culture of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources in the Regulation of Live Animal Exports in 2018, the internal Future Department Review in 2020, and Auditor-General Reports No.49 2018–19 Management of Commonwealth National Parks and No.47 2019–20 Referrals, Assessments and Approvals of Controlled Actions under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

This audit would examine the department’s progress in reforming its governance and culture. It would include an assessment of its overall governance arrangements, its establishment of an appropriate regulatory culture, and its implementation of planned reform activities, including in response to the previously mentioned reviews.

Implementation of recommendations in the Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio

This audit would assess the effectiveness of governance arrangements in selected entities in the Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio for monitoring and implementing agreed recommendations from ANAO performance audits, parliamentary committees, and other statutory bodies such as the Inspector-General of Biosecurity.

In their reports, the ANAO, parliamentary committees, and statutory bodies identify areas where administrative improvements can be made and make recommendations to improve the delivery of outcomes. Once entities have agreed to implement recommendations, or in the case of parliamentary committee reports, the Australian Government has committed to the implementation of recommendations, timely implementation in line with the intended outcome of the recommendation is important in achieving the full benefit of the recommendation.

Implementation of the export control legislative framework

The Export Control Act 2020, and subordinate legislation, provide the primary means for the Australian Government to regulate goods exported from Australian territory. The legislative framework, which comes into effect on 28 March 2021, is intended to: support access to international trading markets for Australian goods; protect Australia’s global trading reputation; allow greater flexibility to respond to changes in technology and requirements; and improve the efficiency of export procedures by reducing complexity and duplication. The value of Australian agricultural exports in 2019–20, as estimated by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, was $48.2 billion.

This audit would examine the department’s arrangements to implement the export control legislative framework, including its management of the transition from the previous legislation and its progress in achieving the framework’s intended benefits.

Management of environmental water

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder is responsible for managing over $4 billion in environmental water holdings for the Australian Government, to deliver environmental benefits. Effective management of environmental water is important to ensure the ongoing health of waterways in the Murray-Darling Basin.

This audit would examine the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder’s planning and use of environmental water to deliver environmental benefits. It would include an examination of its engagement with stakeholders, and its arrangements to measure and assure itself that its use of water is effective.

This audit will also complement prior audits on the acquisition and management of water holdings in the Commonwealth.

Management of the 20 Million Trees Programme

The audit would assess whether projects that received grant funding under the 20 Million Trees Programme have been effectively delivered and the funding appropriately acquitted.

Auditor-General Report No.4 2016–17 Award of Funding under the 20 Million Trees Programme examined the award of funding under the program. The published program guidelines required that projects with a budget of $60,000 or greater were required to have a timeframe of between 18 months and three years; and projects with a budget of less than $60,000 were required to be completed within 18 months. Delivery of funded projects should be substantially completed when this audit is undertaken.

National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the agency in making grants and loans to agricultural businesses in response to drought and flood. Under the Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure Grants program, $300 million will be made available to primary producers for restocking, replanting and infrastructure rebuilding through a funding round announced on 23 March 2019. As at 30 June 2020, 214 grants worth $55.3 million had been approved. The agency›s 2019–20 annual report noted that a further $1.75 billion loan package is ‘on hold’ due to the banking sector lending to primary producers.

This audit could include an assessment of: decision-making authority and risk management; compliance with the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines; whether any loans are being appropriately assessed and managed; performance measurement; and preparedness for evaluation.

Post-bushfire wildlife and habitat recovery

The 2019–2020 bushfire season severely impacted many threatened species and ecological communities. As part of the response, the Australian Government committed $200 million to help native wildlife and their habitats recover from the impacts of the bushfires. This includes an initial $50 million investment that was made available from January 2020 for urgent interventions and initial recovery actions, $110 million for strategic on-ground support for the most impacted native species across seven bushfire-affected regions, and funding to support scientific assessment and planning coordination.

This audit will examine the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s activities to support the recovery of threatened species and ecological communities following the 2019–20 bushfire season. It would include an examination of whether appropriate governance and prioritisation arrangements were in place to ensure funding was directed to the areas that need it most.

Threat abatement and threatened species management

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in administering threat abatement and threatened species recovery activities including its support to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, development of recovery and abatement plans, and support for the implementation of those plans.

At February 2021 there were 1,900 species and 90 ecological communities listed as threatened and 21 threatening processes identified under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). As at October 2020, recovery plans for 170 threatened species or ecological communities were outstanding and had not been completed within legislative timeframes. Parliamentary inquiries and reviews have identified issues with the department’s regulation of threat abatement plans and processes, with the government committing to implement a number of the recommendations of parliamentary committees.

In response to a recommendation from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Environment and Energy, the Auditor-General committed to considering a potential audit of the department’s administration of threat abatement plans and related sections of the EPBC Act.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Attorney-General’s

Comcare’s administration of its workers’ compensation scheme

The audit would assess the efficiency and effectiveness of Comcare’s administration of its workers’ compensation scheme.

As the national authority for work health and safety, and workers’ compensation, Comcare is responsible for providing workers’ compensation insurance coverage for the Australian Government, Australian government authorities and corporations, and corporations who have licence to self-insure under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988, and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

During 2019–20 Comcare provided coverage to approximately 812,000 employees across a broad range of industries including: government and administration; construction; transport; financial services; and education. In 2019–20 Comcare paid approximately $362 million in workers’ compensation claims. The efficient and effective administration of claims is important to ensure the treatment and rehabilitation services provided to employees covered by the scheme allows them to return to work in a timely manner, reducing the expenses incurred by the scheme, while providing certainty to policy holders.

Cyber security strategies of commercial entities supporting government

This audit would assess the effectiveness of commercial entities complying with relevant government cyber security requirements.

The scope of the audit would include an examination of the effectiveness and maturity of commercial entities’ cyber security strategies, and also the effectiveness of government ensuring contracted providers comply with relevant security requirements, such as the Protective Security Policy Framework.

Implementation of the revised Protective Security Policy Framework

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Attorney-General’s Department in promoting the revised Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) and the extent to which selected entities are meeting its core requirements.

The Attorney-General has overall policy responsibility for Australian Government protective security arrangements, while accountable authorities are responsible for protective security arrangements within their own organisations. The PSPF assists entities to protect their people, information and assets at home and overseas by providing policy, guidance and better practice advice for governance, personnel, physical and information security.

In 2015 the Independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation (the review) identified the PSPF as an opportunity for reform and red tape reduction. The review recommended a shift from the existing compliance framework underpinned by risk management principles, to a principles-based approach. The new PSPF policy aims to reduce the administrative burden of compliance and to support entities to better engage with risks relevant to their functions. Entities are required to review their policies, procedures and templates and consider whether any changes are necessary to implement core requirements.

Management of complaints by the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman

The audit would examine whether the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (the Ombudsman) effectively and efficiently manages in-jurisdiction complaints about Australian Government entities. The Ombudsman considers and investigates complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by an Australian Government entity or prescribed private sector organisation. Its aim is to resolve complaints impartially, informally and as quickly as reasonably practicable.

In 2018–19 the Ombudsman finalised 34,322 in-jurisdiction complaints. For 2018–19 the percentage of these complaints that required more substantial investigation was not reported. For 2017–18, 20 per cent required more substantial investigation (categories four and five in the Ombudsman’s five-category complaint system), with some requiring the involvement of senior managers.

The Ombudsman has a corporate objective to provide an effective and efficient complaint handling service, with an associated key performance indicator that 85 per cent of approaches are finalised within its service standards. For 2018–19 the reported result was 89 per cent, a 14.1 per cent increase from 74.9 per cent reported in 2017–18, which had previously fallen from 76.6 per cent in 2016–17.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Australian Taxation Office

Addressing Superannuation Guarantee non-compliance — follow up

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) activities in addressing Superannuation Guarantee non-compliance, including the extent to which the ATO has implemented the recommendations made in Auditor-General Report No.39 2014–15 Promoting Compliance with Superannuation Guarantee Obligations, and the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry report Superbad — Wage theft and non-compliance of the Superannuation Guarantee, tabled in May 2017.

In December 2017, the Australian Government announced that it will provide the ATO with $20.9 million over four years from 2017–18 to establish a Superannuation Guarantee Compliance Taskforce to address non-compliance and safeguard employees’ Superannuation Guarantee entitlements. The taskforce aims to improve the ATO’s capacity to proactively monitor and take action to improve employer compliance with Superannuation Guarantee obligations.

Administration of income tax for individuals

This audit would assess the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) administration of income tax for individual taxpayers. It would include strategies and activities to manage compliance risks, encourage voluntary compliance, select cases and undertake compliance and enforcement activities.

Of $404 billion in total net tax collections in 2019–20, the ATO collected $222 billion in income tax for all individuals. The ATO also estimated a tax gap for individuals (not in business) in 2017–18, which was 5.6 per cent ($8.3 billion compared against $141 billion collected that year). The ATO’s main concerns are incorrect claims for work and rental property expenses.

Data Governance at the Australian Taxation Office

This audit would assess the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) governance arrangements and associated frameworks, processes and practices in support of the effective, efficient and compliant use of its data holdings.

To effectively administer the tax and superannuation systems, the ATO is required to collect, analyse and share information, in accordance with the law, on the financial affairs of taxpayers and other participants in the Australian economy. Relevant provisions include standards of confidentiality, rights to privacy, and freedom of information law.

Global Switch Ultimo

Global Switch Ultimo (GSU) is a privately-owned data centre. It is the primary data repository for a number of large entities including Defence, the ATO, ASIC, Home Affairs, the NBN and the Australian Digital Health Agency. It holds about 40 petabytes of data up to secret level.

In 2016, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approved an application from GSU’s owners to sell up to 51 per cent of the company to Elegant Jubilee, a consortium largely comprised of Chinese private and government entities. The proposal was approved subject to conditions. After a number of company sales and restructures, Elegant Jubilee became effectively 100 per cent Chinese owned. In September 2019, the government decided that the only way to mitigate the threat to national security was for all government entities to exit GSU completely. A total of $645 million has been allocated to this task (this does not include the cost of securing alternative arrangements or purchasing all new hardware). This process is underway but will not be complete until 2024–25 for Defence.

An audit could examine the FIRB’s (and other entities’) risk assessment processes prior to the 2016 FIRB approval. It could also examine the risk assessments for new alternative arrangements. Finally, it could also involve an assessment of the value for money of the government decision (in 2008) to outsource government data storage and hosting to the private sector.

Implementation of justified trust programs

This audit would assess the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) effectiveness in implementing the justified trust programs by which the ATO analyses a taxpayer’s governance and systems for tax to determine the direction and level of effort for the engagement.

Since 2016, the ATO has applied justified trust through a program of assurance reviews of the top 100 taxpayers to ensure large public businesses, multinationals and superfunds are paying the right amount of tax and have the right tax governance processes in place. The program has been increased to the top 1,000 taxpayers, plus a top 500 and top 5,000 program in the private wealth sector. The audit would consider whether the program is appropriately designed, whether ATO staff comply with program policies, and whether the program is delivering expected benefits.

Implementation of the government response to the Black Economy Taskforce

This audit would assess the effectiveness of Treasury and other entities in implementing the 2018 government response to the Taskforce’s 2017 report into the black economy. The government accepted or partly accepted the majority of the 62 recommendations and 13 supplementary recommendations that apply across government. As part of the 2018–19 Budget the Government announced a range of Black Economy Package measures including further expansion of taxable payments reporting, combatting illicit tobacco, introducing an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000, new and enhanced ATO enforcement, removing tax deductibility of non-compliant payments, consulting on a new regulatory framework for Australian Business Numbers and changes to Government procurement requirements to incentivise tax compliance in supply chains and increasing the ability of enforcement agencies to detect and disrupt black economy participants.

Modernising Business Registers — Project Management

As part of the 2020 Budget Digital Business Plan, the government announced $480 million in funding to enable the full implementation of the Modernising Business Registers (MBR) program. The MBR Program will unify the Australian Business Register (ABR) and 31 registers administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) on a digital registry system. The Commonwealth business registry regime was created in June 2020 when the Commonwealth Registers Bill 2019 and four related bills received royal assent. This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) project management of consolidating the registers.

To deliver the MBR Program, the ATO is working in partnership with: Treasury; ASIC; Department of Industry, Innovation and Science; and the Digital Transformation Agency. The MBR will be maintained by the ATO.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Defence

Contract administration in Defence — Australian Industry Capability

This audit would examine the effectiveness of Defence’s administration of its contracts with a particular focus on the management of contractual obligations for involving Australian industry in supply chains. In particular, the audit would examine whether a whole-of-Defence framework has been established and implemented to support the consistent management of these obligations. Selected contracts would be tested to confirm that contracts are actively managed to ensure contractors address these obligations.

In the 2019–20 financial year, Defence published 26,063 contracts totalling more than $17.3 billion and 6,739 contract amendments totalling more than $14.1 billion on Austender. These contracts were for a range of purposes including to purchase: platforms and sustainment services; estate; IT systems and support; inventory; and management consultancies. Recent audit work identified that Australian Industry Capability (AIC) Program verification activities for two major procurements (Offshore Patrol Vessels and Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles — Land 400) had not yet been established.

COVID-19: Australian Government Crisis Management Framework

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework (the Framework) in facilitating the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Framework outlines high-level arrangements under which crises of national significance are to be managed. National plans and arrangements developed by Australian Government agencies must reflect the roles and responsibilities set out in the Framework.

Governance and coordination arrangements for the Australian Government’s COVID-19 response, established from March 2020, differed from the standing arrangements outlined in the Framework. The Framework states that special purpose or temporary response mechanisms may be appropriate in some cases, noting the importance of clear lines for information sharing, decision-making and accountability. The Framework was updated in October 2020 to reflect changes to the crisis management arrangements, such as the establishment of the National Cabinet and the creation of the National Coordination Mechanism in the Department of Home Affairs.

The audit would examine whether the pre-existing Framework arrangements were fit for purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether arrangements established in response to the pandemic were guided by the Framework and whether crisis management lessons from the pandemic have been captured.

Cyber security strategies of commercial entities supporting government

This audit would assess the effectiveness of commercial entities complying with relevant government cyber security requirements.

The scope of the audit would include an examination of the effectiveness and maturity of commercial entities’ cyber security strategies, and also the effectiveness of government ensuring contracted providers comply with relevant security requirements, such as the Protective Security Policy Framework.

Defence’s management of the recruitment of contractors

This audit would examine the effectiveness of Defence’s management of its personnel security risks for the external workforce. In line with policies 12–14 under the Protective Security Policy Framework, an audit would examine the arrangements Defence has established to: assess the eligibility and suitability of personnel engaged as part of Defence’s external workforce; monitor and assess the ongoing suitability of personnel; and manage the separation of personnel to ensure the safeguard of Australian Government information resources.

The Department of Defence (Defence) engages an external workforce of contractors, consultants and outsourced service providers to supplement its Australian Public Service (APS) and Australian Defence Force (ADF) workforces in the following areas: administration, communications and media, education and training, platform or fleet sustainment and maintenance, finance, health services, HR, Research and Services, Information Technology, legal, procurement, project management, property and ‘other’. In its most recent external workforce survey (March 2020), Defence identified an external workforce of 28,632 Full Time Equivalents. This number exceeded the number of Full Time Equivalent APS (16,505) that Defence reported in its 2019–20 Annual Report as engaged as at 30 June 2020.

Defence’s management of information assets

The audit would examine the effectiveness of the Department of Defence’s (Defence’s) management of information assets (records, information and data). In particular, the audit will examine whether Defence has: assessed its records management needs; developed and implemented frameworks and systems that adequately supported records management; and applied sound records management practices.

Contemporary information management is different from past practices. Digital technologies are constantly evolving, providing opportunities for more efficient ways of working. This can also lead to information management challenges.

Defence’s management of inventory

This audit would examine the efficiency and economy of the Department of Defence’s management of its inventory of explosive ordnance including forward provisioning, monitoring of stock levels and location, and the timely and safe management of ageing stock.

The management of explosive ordnance carries capability, safety, security, reputational and environmental risks across all stages of the explosive ordnance life cycle. Defence’s 2019–20 Financial Statements identified that Defence had $7.4 billion in total inventories (an increase of over $300 million since 30 June 2019). Defence holds inventory for its own use and does not ordinarily hold inventory for sale.

Defence’s management of the Integrated Investment Program

An audit would examine the Department of Defence’s management of the Integrated Investment Program since its implementation in 2016 including: the framework underpinning the program; and the governance arrangements in place.

The Department of Defence’s 2016 Integrated Investment Program was to ‘guide the implementation of the bulk of investment over the decade to FY 2025–26 to build the future force and Defence capability goals of the Defence White Paper’. The 2016 Integrated Investment Program was approximately $195 billion over the decade to FY2025–26 and had been subject to ‘a comprehensive program of external cost assurance…in support of a fully costed White Paper’.

Defence advised that the Integrated Investment Program would be reviewed annually as part of the development of the budget; the Program will evolve in response to changes in Australia’s strategic circumstances, including capability priorities, and developments in technology. In 2020, Defence released a strategic update and The Force Structure Plan including the investments to deliver the new strategy.

Defence’s procurement of six Cape Class Patrol boats

An audit would examine the effectiveness of the Department of Defence’s procurement of the six Cape Class patrol boats. In particular, an audit would examine the establishment of requirements, the approach to identifying the successful boat builder, whether sound advice was provided to government, and contract management to date.

On 1 May 2020, the Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Industry announced that Austal would build six new Cape class patrol boats for Navy under a $350 million build program. The six new Cape Class Patrol Boats will grow the patrol boat force to 16 vessels, while the new larger Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels are introduced into service.

The audit would follow on from previous audits on patrol boat acquisition: Auditor-General Report No.13 2014–15, Management of the Cape Class pPatrol Boat Program; Auditor-General Report No.39 2017–18 Naval Construction Programs — Mobilisation; Auditor-General Report No.21 2018–19, Cape Class Patrol Boat — In Service Support Arrangements; and Auditor-General Report No.12 2020–21, Defence’s Procurement of Offshore Patrol Vessels — SEA 1180 Phase 1.

Global Switch Ultimo

Global Switch Ultimo (GSU) is a privately-owned data centre. It is the primary data repository for a number of large entities including Defence, the ATO, ASIC, Home Affairs, the NBN and the Australian Digital Health Agency. It holds about 40 petabytes of data up to secret level.

In 2016, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approved an application from GSU’s owners to sell up to 51 per cent of the company to Elegant Jubilee, a consortium largely comprised of Chinese private and government entities. The proposal was approved subject to conditions. After a number of company sales and restructures, Elegant Jubilee became effectively 100 per cent Chinese owned. In September 2019, the government decided that the only way to mitigate the threat to national security was for all government entities to exit GSU completely. A total of $645 million has been allocated to this task (this does not include the cost of securing alternative arrangements or purchasing all new hardware). This process is underway but will not be complete until 2024–25 for Defence.

An audit could examine the FIRB’s (and other entities’) risk assessment processes prior to the 2016 FIRB approval. It could also examine the risk assessments for new alternative arrangements. Finally, it could also involve an assessment of the value for money of the government decision (in 2008) to outsource government data storage and hosting to the private sector.

Hunter Class Frigates

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of Defence’s (Defence’s) administration of the Hunter Class frigate program, including the value for money of Defence’s acquisition of Hunter Class frigates and planning for construction and entry into service.

In June 2018, the Australian Government announced the acquisition of nine Hunter Class frigates to replace the Royal Australian Navy’s existing ANZAC Class frigates. The Hunter Class is based on the BAE Type 26 design, and will be built at the Osborne shipyard in South Australia, with the first-of-class expected to enter service in the late 2020s. The publicly reported acquisition cost of the Hunter Class is $44.3 billion (out turned).

In addition to providing capability to the Royal Australian Navy, the acquisition of the Hunter Class frigates is an integral part of the Australian Government’s 2017 Naval Shipbuilding Plan to create a viable and sustainable Australian naval shipbuilding industry, based on a continuous build of naval surface ships and submarines.

Management of health services to the Australian Defence Force

This audit would assess whether the Department of Defence is managing the health services contract to achieve efficient and effective health services. Joint Health Command (JHC) provides health care to Australian Defence Force (ADF) members and ensures the health preparedness of ADF personnel for operations and deployable elements of JHC for deployment in support of operations. To effect this, JHC develops strategic health policy, provides strategic level health advice and exercises technical and financial control of ADF health units. On 14 January 2019, the Department of Defence established a new ADF health services contract with Bupa Health Services. The contract is valued at $3.4 billion and is for the period January 2019 to June 2025. Through the contract, Defence intends to minimise low value care and achieve a greater use of data and analytics in health service delivery. The audit would examine the contractual obligations established and how Defence assures itself that health services delivered to the ADF are effective and efficient.

Major Projects Report 2021–22

Increased transparency and accountability on progress with major Defence equipment acquisitions has been a focus of parliamentary interest for some time. Beginning in 2007–08, an annual program has been established in conjunction with the Department of Defence to enable the ANAO to review and report to the Parliament on the status of major Defence acquisition projects, as set out in the Defence major projects report. The review includes information relating to the cost, schedule and the progress towards delivery of required capability of individual projects as at 30 June each year, and is undertaken at the request of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Education, Skills and Employment

Access and participation — regional and remote students

A report published by the Regional Education Expert Advisory Group in 2019 stated that ‘individuals who grow up in regional, rural and remote (RRR) areas are around 40 per cent less likely to gain a higher-level tertiary education qualification and less than half as likely to gain a bachelor and above qualification by the time they are 35 years old, compared to individuals from metropolitan areas.’ On 19 June 2020, a series of measures aimed at regional and remote students was announced. Worth more than $400 million over 5 years, these include: Increased financial support for higher education study and improved travel support.

The audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s design and implementation of the measures established under the Access and Participation Program.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) is a Commonwealth Company responsible for developing and promoting teaching standards. AITSL provides support services and tools for teachers in training; qualified teachers; and teachers in leadership positions within education institutions. AITSL works with the federal, state and territory governments to promote and support the implementation of teaching standards, sponsor research and advocate for the teaching profession. The audit would assess the effectiveness of AITSL in developing programs to promote and support the quality of teaching in Australia.

Entrepreneurship Facilitators

The Entrepreneurship Facilitators Program began in 2019. Entrepreneurship Facilitators (located in 23 locations across Australia) provide a range of no-cost services, including, but not limited to linking and referring individuals to appropriate services that will help them start and run their own business, including to the New Business Assistance with New Enterprise Incentive Scheme. The Facilitators have a focus on encouraging entrepreneurship among: mature age Australians, including those at risk of unemployment due to structural changes in the economy in 23 locations across Australia and young people in Cairns, the Hunter Valley (including Newcastle), and Launceston and North-East Tasmania. The Department will pay the Provider up to $954,250 (GST inclusive) for each Entrepreneurship Facilitator Location for which the Provider has been contracted to deliver Services.

The program has commenced its second year. The ANAO would review the Entrepreneurship Facilitator Program against its intended outcomes, and whether the Department is achieving value for money through the program.

Management of the Seasonal Worker Program

The audit would examine the effectiveness of DESE’s administration of the Seasonal Worker Program. The program assists employers in the agricultural and accommodation sectors to access workers from the Pacific Islands and Timor Leste to fill employment gaps not met by the Australian workforce.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Finance

Comcover

A performance audit would examine how premiums are set to manage exposures, provisioning and reinsurance arrangements.

Comcover is the Australian Government’s self-managed insurance fund. It is mandatory for all Commonwealth entities that are subject to the PGPA Act and classified in the General Government Sector to be members of the fund. As at 30 June 2020, Comcover had a claims liability of $588.0 million, with cash reserves of $672.3 million in the Comcover Special Account. An equity injection of $150 million was provided in 2019–20 due to several large property claims arising from weather events including the Canberra hailstorms and bushfires.

Procurement complaints handling

An audit would examine whether appropriate systems and processes are in place in a selection of entities including the Department of Finance to identify to potential tenderers how to make a complaint as well as the management of complaints received about the conduct of procurement activities.

In relation to ethical behaviour, the CPRs require that, if a compliant is received, entities must apply timely, equitable and non-discriminatory complaint handling procedures including providing acknowledgement soon after the complaint has been received. In the first instance, complaints are to be made to the entity responsible for the procurement. Where complaints are not resolved satisfactorily and the complainant considers it relates to the tender specifications that prevented a competitive response being prepared, the complaint can be referred to the Procurement Coordinator in the Department of Finance. In addition to the arrangements under the CPRs, the Government Procurement (Judicial Review) Act 2018 established an independent complain mechanism for certain procurement processes.

Reporting on GrantConnect of grant opportunities and grants awarded

The objective of this information report would be to present information on Australian Government grant awarding. Since 31 December 2017, information on individual grants awarded have been required to be reported on GrantConnect within 21 days of a grant agreement taking effect. This replaced an earlier obligation for entities to report information on grants awarded on their own websites. Entities must also make grant opportunity guidelines publicly available on GrantConnect (except in defined circumstances).

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Foreign Affairs and Trade

COVID 19: Support to the aviation sector

The audit would assess the effectiveness of the design and implementation of the range of measures designed to support the aviation sector.

Australia’s aviation sector has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the economic response to COVID-19, the Australian Government has committed $2.7 billion for a package of measures to support the sector. These include:

  • the Australian Airline Financial Relief Measures which provides $715 million for rebates and fee waivers for aviation fuel excise, air services charges on commercial aircraft operators and domestic and regional aviation security charges;
  • the International Freight Assistance Mechanism which provides $352 million to maintain supply-chains;
  • the Regional Airlines Funding Assistance Program, which provides $100 million to assist airlines and air operators providing services to regional and remote locations to continue to provide essential air links; and
  • the Domestic Aviation Network Support and Regional Airline Network Support programs, which are designed to maintain connectivity on domestic air routes.

The audit could examine the design and evidence base for the assistance packages, implementation and administration of the programs, as well as performance measurement and evaluation.

COVID-19: Australian Government Crisis Management Framework

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework (the Framework) in facilitating the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Framework outlines high-level arrangements under which crises of national significance are to be managed. National plans and arrangements developed by Australian Government agencies must reflect the roles and responsibilities set out in the Framework.

Governance and coordination arrangements for the Australian Government’s COVID-19 response, established from March 2020, differed from the standing arrangements outlined in the Framework. The Framework states that special purpose or temporary response mechanisms may be appropriate in some cases, noting the importance of clear lines for information sharing, decision-making and accountability. The Framework was updated in October 2020 to reflect changes to the crisis management arrangements, such as the establishment of the National Cabinet and the creation of the National Coordination Mechanism in the Department of Home Affairs.

The audit would examine whether the pre-existing Framework arrangements were fit for purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether arrangements established in response to the pandemic were guided by the Framework and whether crisis management lessons from the pandemic have been captured.

DFAT’s establishment of the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific

The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) was established in July 2019. The facility uses aid grant funding of up to $500 million, combined with long term loans of up to $1.5 billion to support infrastructure development in the Pacific countries and Timor Leste (over seven years). Loans will be disbursed through the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC). An advisory board will review proposals, with relevant ministers making final decisions on investments.

An early audit of the AIIFP would assess the effectiveness of DFAT’s design and inception planning of the facility. This would include an examination of frameworks under which the board has been established and will operate; and the efficacy of DFAT’s management of arrangements with EFIC.

Effectiveness of Austrade’s support for the export of Australian services and administration of the Export Market Development Grants scheme

This audit would assess Austrade’s effectiveness in supporting an expansion in the export of Australian services and in the administration of the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme.

The services sector generates over 70 per cent of Australia’s GDP and employs four out of every five Australians, yet trade in services accounted for only 22.3 per cent of Australia’s total trade in calendar year 2018. In 2017, Austrade published a strategy to address this, with a particular focus on education, tourism and financial services.

The audit could also examine the effectiveness of Austrade’s activities in this regard, and could also examine Austrade’s administration of the EMDG scheme, which provides financial assistance to Australian small to medium-sized businesses to support international marketing and promotion activities. A total of $526.4 million has been awarded in grants over the four years to 2018–19.

Efficiency of the Australian Passport Office

The audit would assess the efficiency and effectiveness of DFAT’s delivery of passport services through the Australian Passport Office (APO) and the effectiveness of its planning to meet future demand.

In 2019–20, the APO processed 1,745,340 passports, an 18 per cent drop on the previous year. Approximately 1.4 million passports were processed by the end of February 2020, prior to the onset of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic. In 2017, DFAT commenced a project to replace its passport application and issuing system through a Passport Redevelopment Program (PRP). The new system, when fully implemented, is intended to support increases in online passport applications and the production of up to 3.5 million passports a year. Use of advanced technologies are aimed at reducing the need for manual processing, increasing data security and improving the ability to detect fraud and other threats to Australian interests. The audit would assess the extent to which the PRP and related investments have contributed to the efficiency and effectiveness of APO operations, including in relation to the administration of cost recovery arrangements.

Overseas crisis management and response

This audit would review the effectiveness of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT’s) strategies, processes and coordination arrangements for preparing for and responding to crises involving Australians overseas.

DFAT leads the Australian Government’s responses to overseas crises. In the event of an international crisis overseas, Australia’s consular services will be relied upon to assist from both a humanitarian and consular support perspective. In 2018–19, DFAT provided 13,715 Australians in difficulty with consular assistance. Auditor-General Report No.21 2014–15 Delivery of Australia’s Consular Services, noted that Australians are travelling abroad more often, in increasingly higher risk groupings (such as the elderly and children), and that DFAT’s dispersed network of service delivery locations and the variety of work undertaken across this network creates challenges in ensuring effective coordination and response.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Health

COVID-19: Australian Government Crisis Management Framework

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework (the Framework) in facilitating the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Framework outlines high-level arrangements under which crises of national significance are to be managed. National plans and arrangements developed by Australian Government agencies must reflect the roles and responsibilities set out in the Framework.

Governance and coordination arrangements for the Australian Government’s COVID-19 response, established from March 2020, differed from the standing arrangements outlined in the Framework. The Framework states that special purpose or temporary response mechanisms may be appropriate in some cases, noting the importance of clear lines for information sharing, decision-making and accountability. The Framework was updated in October 2020 to reflect changes to the crisis management arrangements, such as the establishment of the National Cabinet and the creation of the National Coordination Mechanism in the Department of Home Affairs.

The audit would examine whether the pre-existing Framework arrangements were fit for purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether arrangements established in response to the pandemic were guided by the Framework and whether crisis management lessons from the pandemic have been captured.

COVID-19: COVIDSafe app

The audit would assess how economically and effectively the COVIDSafe app was designed and is being used.

On 26 April 2020 the Australian Government released the COVIDSafe app. The app uses Bluetooth to find other phones with the COVIDSafe app and records the date, time, distance and duration of contact. It is designed to support the manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. When the app was released, the Minister for Health described it as ‘one of the critical tools we will use to help protect the health of the community by quickly alerting people who may be at risk of having contact with COVID-19’. Around 7 million people had downloaded the app by August 2020.

The first interim report of the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 published in December 2020 found ‘the app launched with significant performance issues and has only been of limited effectiveness in its primary function of contact tracing’. The committee recommended the Australian Government commission an independent review into expenditure on, and design of, the COVIDSafe app. The Government is yet to respond to this recommendation.

The audit would examine the design and procurement processes for the app, how effectively it has been promoted and the extent to which it has been assisting in contact tracing.

COVID-19: Prioritising mental health and preventative health

The audit would assess the Department of Health’s implementation of the COVID-19 Response Package for mental health and preventive health.

A budget of $122.1 million over three years from 2019–20 has been allocated to support implementation of the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan and the mental health of Australians during and when recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget has been allocated to a range of measures and entities, including: targeted support for vulnerable groups to address social isolation and anxiety; not-for-profit organisations providing counselling and support services, including to establish a dedicated counselling and support line for people experiencing stress and anxiety due to COVID-19; and extending the Suicide Prevention Research Fund and National Gateway to Best Practice and Quality Improvement project.

The audit could examine the design, implementation and administration of the measures, stakeholder management, and performance measurement and evaluation.

COVID-19: Vaccine and Treatment Strategy

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s implementation of the COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy.

The goal of the Strategy is to provide early access to, and delivery of, safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for all Australians. In the 2020–21 Budget the Government allocated $2.3 billion to invest in the development and purchase of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. In December 2020 the Government allocated an additional $1.5 billion over two years to purchase vaccine stock, and $75.2 million to support a national program to administer the vaccine.

The audit could examine the Department of Health’s risk management, decision-making, advice to government and coordination of activities across the five key areas identified in the Strategy (research and development, purchase and manufacturing, international partnerships, regulation and safety, and immunisation administration and monitoring).

Department of Health’s performance management of Primary Health Networks

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s performance management of Primary Health Networks (PHNs).

Thirty-one PHNs were established by the Australian Government on 1 July 2015 intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of primary health care services across Australia. PHNs are independent, not-for-profit, regionally based planning and commissioning organisations. The role of the PHNs is to make decisions about which services or health care interventions should be provided and who should provide them, based on their strategic planning activities. PHNs enter into and manage contracts with service providers, and are responsible for monitoring and evaluating the quality of commissioned services.

The audit would examine the Department of Health’s performance management activities including its expectations as set out in the PHN performance framework, development of national indicators and assurance activities over service monitoring and evaluation activities undertaken by PHNs. The audit would focus on selected programs drawn from the seven national health priority areas (mental health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, population health, digital health, health workforce, aged care, and alcohol and other drugs).

Global Switch Ultimo

Global Switch Ultimo (GSU) is a privately-owned data centre. It is the primary data repository for a number of large entities including Defence, the ATO, ASIC, Home Affairs, the NBN and the Australian Digital Health Agency. It holds about 40 petabytes of data up to secret level.

In 2016, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approved an application from GSU’s owners to sell up to 51 per cent of the company to Elegant Jubilee, a consortium largely comprised of Chinese private and government entities. The proposal was approved subject to conditions. After a number of company sales and restructures, Elegant Jubilee became effectively 100 per cent Chinese owned. In September 2019, the government decided that the only way to mitigate the threat to national security was for all government entities to exit GSU completely. A total of $645 million has been allocated to this task (this does not include the cost of securing alternative arrangements or purchasing all new hardware). This process is underway but will not be complete until 2024–25 for Defence.

An audit could examine the FIRB’s (and other entities’) risk assessment processes prior to the 2016 FIRB approval. It could also examine the risk assessments for new alternative arrangements. Finally, it could also involve an assessment of the value for money of the government decision (in 2008) to outsource government data storage and hosting to the private sector.

Recruitment and retention of doctors across rural and remote Australia

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of Health’s design and implementation of initiatives aimed at attracting medical practitioners to rural and remote regions.

The Stronger Rural Health Strategy aims to build a sustainable, high-quality health workforce that is distributed across the country according to community need. The Strategy has a range of incentives, targeted funding and bonding arrangements (providing students a medical place in return for a commitment to practice in areas of workforce shortage for a specified period).

The audit could examine several of the initiatives that underpin the delivery of the strategy, as well as the incentive packages, including if the incentives and targeted funding are meeting needs.

The Community Health and Hospitals Program

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the administration of the Community Health and Hospitals Program (CHHP).

The CHHP represents a government investment of $1.25 billion over seven years, from 2019–20, in local services, infrastructure projects and programs intended to address local service gaps and fund new and existing facilities. Projects will be delivered through Primary Health Networks (PHNs), targeted grant funding, and transfer payments to states and territories.

The audit could focus on areas within the Department of Health’s administrative responsibility including: the selection and allocation of program funding to states and territories, including through PHNs; and departmental value for money decision-making regarding National Projects.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Home Affairs

Coordination of Border Intelligence

This audit would examine the effectiveness of the Border Intelligence Fusion Centre (BIFC) in contributing to the achievement of Australia’s border protection objectives.

In 2018–19, the Department of Home Affairs processed 47 million international air and sea travellers, and inspected more than 1.1 million cargo consignments. An effective ability to identify and manage risks arising from the movement of people and goods into Australia is critical to the safety and security of Australian citizens. Following the 2015 Integrated Intelligence Review of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Intelligence Capabilities (Irvine review) of the Department’s intelligence function, the BIFC was established in 2016 within the Australian Border Force. The BIFC brought together the department’s existing National Border Targeting Centre and the intelligence collection and analysis capabilities of seven federal agencies, and also formalised operational links with key international partners.

The BIFC’s function is to identify and assess immediate threats to the Australian border on a 24/7 basis through targeting and allegations and to provide immediate tactical intelligence on time-sensitive events. This audit would assess whether the BIFC’s collaborative ‘intelligence-led/risk-based’ model enables resources to be deployed effectively in identifying and managing risks. It would also examine the co-ordination and communication arrangements between partner agencies, including resource allocation.

Coordination of Counter-Terrorism Arrangements

The Centre for Counter-Terrorism Coordination (the CCTC) within the Department of Home Affairs oversees all efforts to prevent and counter terrorism in Australia. This includes coordinating plans across jurisdictions and promoting the development and maintenance of an appropriate level of interoperability between relevant entities. Australia’s National Counter-Terrorism Plan outlines the arrangements, governance and operational responsibilities of the Australian Government and state and territory governments in countering terrorism. The audit would examine the Department of Home Affairs’ effectiveness in coordinating of counter-terrorism capabilities.

COVID 19: Support to the aviation sector

The audit would assess the effectiveness of the design and implementation of the range of measures designed to support the aviation sector.

Australia’s aviation sector has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the economic response to COVID-19, the Australian Government has committed $2.7 billion for a package of measures to support the sector. These include:

  • the Australian Airline Financial Relief Measures which provides $715 million for rebates and fee waivers for aviation fuel excise, air services charges on commercial aircraft operators and domestic and regional aviation security charges;
  • the International Freight Assistance Mechanism which provides $352 million to maintain supply-chains;
  • the Regional Airlines Funding Assistance Program, which provides $100 million to assist airlines and air operators providing services to regional and remote locations to continue to provide essential air links; and
  • the Domestic Aviation Network Support and Regional Airline Network Support programs, which are designed to maintain connectivity on domestic air routes.

The audit could examine the design and evidence base for the assistance packages, implementation and administration of the programs, as well as performance measurement and evaluation.

COVID-19: Australian Government Crisis Management Framework

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework (the Framework) in facilitating the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Framework outlines high-level arrangements under which crises of national significance are to be managed. National plans and arrangements developed by Australian Government agencies must reflect the roles and responsibilities set out in the Framework.

Governance and coordination arrangements for the Australian Government’s COVID-19 response, established from March 2020, differed from the standing arrangements outlined in the Framework. The Framework states that special purpose or temporary response mechanisms may be appropriate in some cases, noting the importance of clear lines for information sharing, decision-making and accountability. The Framework was updated in October 2020 to reflect changes to the crisis management arrangements, such as the establishment of the National Cabinet and the creation of the National Coordination Mechanism in the Department of Home Affairs.

The audit would examine whether the pre-existing Framework arrangements were fit for purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether arrangements established in response to the pandemic were guided by the Framework and whether crisis management lessons from the pandemic have been captured.

Critical Infrastructure Resilience Strategy

Critical Infrastructure includes physical facilities, supply chains, information technologies and communication networks which, if destroyed, degraded or rendered unavailable for an extended period, would significantly impact the social or economic wellbeing of the nation or affect Australia’s ability to conduct national defence and ensure national security. Home Affairs’ Critical Infrastructure Security Division adopts a risk-based approach to ensure the resilience and security of critical infrastructure. An audit would examine the effectiveness of Home Affairs’ planning and approach to ensuring resilience and security of critical infrastructure.

Cyber security strategies of commercial entities supporting government

This audit would assess the effectiveness of commercial entities complying with relevant government cyber security requirements.

The scope of the audit would include an examination of the effectiveness and maturity of commercial entities’ cyber security strategies, and also the effectiveness of government ensuring contracted providers comply with relevant security requirements, such as the Protective Security Policy Framework.

Department of Home Affairs’ management of its public communications and media activities

This audit would examine the effectiveness of the Department of Home Affairs’ management of its public communications and media activities.

High-level criteria would address whether the department has established clear objectives and guidance for its public communications and media activities; that governance arrangements provide assurance that public communications and media activities are approved and appropriate; and that there are fit-for-purpose arrangements in place for monitoring and reporting, including against planned outcomes, budget and policy settings. Audit criteria could be based on those used in in Auditor-General Report No.24 2019-20 Defence’s Management of its Public Communications and Media Activities.

Global Switch Ultimo

Global Switch Ultimo (GSU) is a privately-owned data centre. It is the primary data repository for a number of large entities including Defence, the ATO, ASIC, Home Affairs, the NBN and the Australian Digital Health Agency. It holds about 40 petabytes of data up to secret level.

In 2016, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approved an application from GSU’s owners to sell up to 51 per cent of the company to Elegant Jubilee, a consortium largely comprised of Chinese private and government entities. The proposal was approved subject to conditions. After a number of company sales and restructures, Elegant Jubilee became effectively 100 per cent Chinese owned. In September 2019, the government decided that the only way to mitigate the threat to national security was for all government entities to exit GSU completely. A total of $645 million has been allocated to this task (this does not include the cost of securing alternative arrangements or purchasing all new hardware). This process is underway but will not be complete until 2024–25 for Defence.

An audit could examine the FIRB’s (and other entities’) risk assessment processes prior to the 2016 FIRB approval. It could also examine the risk assessments for new alternative arrangements. Finally, it could also involve an assessment of the value for money of the government decision (in 2008) to outsource government data storage and hosting to the private sector.

Implementation of the government response to the Black Economy Taskforce

This audit would assess the effectiveness of Treasury and other entities in implementing the 2018 government response to the Taskforce’s 2017 report into the black economy. The government accepted or partly accepted the majority of the 62 recommendations and 13 supplementary recommendations that apply across government. As part of the 2018–19 Budget the Government announced a range of Black Economy Package measures including further expansion of taxable payments reporting, combatting illicit tobacco, introducing an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000, new and enhanced ATO enforcement, removing tax deductibility of non-compliant payments, consulting on a new regulatory framework for Australian Business Numbers and changes to Government procurement requirements to incentivise tax compliance in supply chains and increasing the ability of enforcement agencies to detect and disrupt black economy participants.

Integrity and corruption controls at international airports

This audit would examine the effectiveness of the Australian Border Force’s (ABF’s) controls to identify, assess and mitigate integrity and corruption risks in relation to Australia’s international airports.

In 2012 and 2013, a joint ACLEI / AFP investigation led to a number of Customs officers at Sydney airport being arrested, charged and imprisoned for involvement in the importation of drugs. The audit would assess the work undertaken by the department to identify, assess and mitigate integrity and corruption risks.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Administration of the Trade Measurement System

This audit would examine how efficiently and effectively the National Measurement Institute (NMI) is administering trade measurement in Australia.

Measurement is integral to any well-functioning and productive economy, and plays a critical role in domestic law and international treaties for trade, commerce and consumer protection. Following a 2007 decision of the Council of Australian Governments to transfer trade measurement responsibilities from the states and territories, national trade measurement commenced on 1 July 2010. Trade measurement refers to all transactions in which the price of the commodities or goods is based on measurement of quantity or quality. The primary purpose of Australia’s trade measurement system is to ensure that the pricing of traded goods is based on accurate measurement. Trade measurement covers both business-to-business transactions and business-to-consumer transactions. The NMI is responsible for ensuring that businesses and individuals comply with the rules and regulations so that there is accurate and reliable measurement in trade.

Design and delivery of the Building Better Regions Fund

This audit would examine the design of the program, development of the program guidelines, the award of grant funding, evaluation of each round as well as arrangements for the overall evaluation of the program against its objectives.

The $841.6 million Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) is a competitive grants program that was established in 2016 to drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities. Three rounds have been completed, with 832 grants worth $643.3 million reported as having been awarded across those three rounds. Applications for the $200 million fourth round, which was for projects that would benefit communities in drought affected communities, closed on 19 December 2019. Two streams of funding have been available in each round (infrastructure projects and community investments). Separate program guidelines for each funding stream were issued under each funding round. The guidelines included eligibility requirements (including the project’s geographic location being in a ‘regional’ area), co-funding requirements and weighted merit assessment criteria. The guidelines have also set out the staged decision-making process for the award of grant funding.

Procurement of Delivery Partners for the Entrepreneurs’ Programme

The audit would examine whether the design and conduct of the procurement process complied with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules, and the signed contracts are being appropriately managed.

The objective of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme is to drive business growth and competitiveness by supporting business improvement and innovation connections in targeted Growth Sectors and the commercialisation of novel products, processes and services. A Request for Tender was issued in September 2019 for business advisory and facilitation services for the Programme. The Delivery Partners were expected to comprise a national network and deliver consistent Programme services to eligible businesses across Australia. Seven contracts with a total value of more than $155 million have been entered into to commence providing services for three years starting on 1 July 2020.

Snowy 2.0 governance of early implementation

The audit would examine the effectiveness of Snowy Hydro Limited’s governance arrangements for implementation of Snowy 2.0, the expansion to the Snowy Hydro Scheme. In February 2019 the Australian Government approved the Snowy 2.0 project to expand pumped hydro-electric storage in the Snowy Mountains. The Australian Government is providing $1.38 billion as an equity investment in the project. The remainder of the project is to be financed by Snowy Hydro Limited, which is a fully Commonwealth owned Government Business Enterprise.

This topic was identified as a priority of the Parliament in 2020–21.

Supporting Australia’s nuclear and related scientific assets and research into the future

This audit would examine whether the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has effectively managed nuclear and related scientific assets throughout their life cycle (including decommissioning), to support Australia’s international competitiveness in scientific research, and provide a reliable domestic supply of radiopharmaceuticals to the Australian nuclear medicine community.

ANSTO manages over $1 billion of nuclear and related scientific assets, for which it incurred over $75 million in depreciation in the last financial year. These assets include highly specialised facilities, such as the Open Pool Australian Lightwater nuclear research reactor, the Australian Synchrotron electron accelerator, and nuclear medicine production equipment. These facilities aim to advance Australia’s commercial and scientific interests by employing world-leading technology. ANSTO has identified asset management and expansion as a strategic corporate objective.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications

Artbank

An audit would examine Artbank’s approach to acquiring, managing and leasing of artworks.

The objectives of Artbank are to provide direct support to Australian contemporary artists through the acquisition of their work, and to promote the value of Australian art to the broader public. Artbank funds its operations through the leasing of artworks from its collection with $3.2 million in leasing revenue in 2019–20 and purchases totalling $312,178 (within total costs of $2.0 million).

CASA’s planning and conduct of surveillance activities

An audit would examine the effectiveness of the approach taken to planning and undertaking surveillance of civil aviation authorisation holders.

CASA’s primary objective in conducting surveillance is to determine whether an authorisation holder is fulfilling their obligations under the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and Regulations. Surveillance may be scheduled in accordance with the National Surveillance Selection Plan (NSSP), or unscheduled, opportunity based, random, or targeted. The NSSP came into effect on 1 July 2018 involving an annual schedule based on a standardised approach to prioritising, classifying and scheduling authorisation holders for surveillance. In its 2019–20 Annual Report, CASA reported that 72 per cent of scheduled surveillance audits were conducted under the National Surveillance Selection Process, against a target of 80 per cent. CASA identified the COVID 19 pandemic, and subsequent disruption to the aviation industry, limited its ability to meet its target number of audits.

COVID 19: Support to the aviation sector

The audit would assess the effectiveness of the design and implementation of the range of measures designed to support the aviation sector.

Australia’s aviation sector has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the economic response to COVID-19, the Australian Government has committed $2.7 billion for a package of measures to support the sector. These include:

  • the Australian Airline Financial Relief Measures which provides $715 million for rebates and fee waivers for aviation fuel excise, air services charges on commercial aircraft operators and domestic and regional aviation security charges;
  • the International Freight Assistance Mechanism which provides $352 million to maintain supply-chains;
  • the Regional Airlines Funding Assistance Program, which provides $100 million to assist airlines and air operators providing services to regional and remote locations to continue to provide essential air links; and
  • the Domestic Aviation Network Support and Regional Airline Network Support programs, which are designed to maintain connectivity on domestic air routes.

The audit could examine the design and evidence base for the assistance packages, implementation and administration of the programs, as well as performance measurement and evaluation.

Design and delivery of the Building Better Regions Fund

This audit would examine the design of the program, development of the program guidelines, the award of grant funding, evaluation of each round as well as arrangements for the overall evaluation of the program against its objectives.

The $841.6 million Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) is a competitive grants program that was established in 2016 to drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities. Three rounds have been completed, with 832 grants worth $643.3 million reported as having been awarded across those three rounds. Applications for the $200 million fourth round, which was for projects that would benefit communities in drought affected communities, closed on 19 December 2019. Two streams of funding have been available in each round (infrastructure projects and community investments). Separate program guidelines for each funding stream were issued under each funding round. The guidelines included eligibility requirements (including the project’s geographic location being in a ‘regional’ area), co-funding requirements and weighted merit assessment criteria. The guidelines have also set out the staged decision-making process for the award of grant funding.

National Broadband Network: transition from construction to operation

This audit would assess the effectiveness of NBN Co. Ltd.’s (NBN Co.’s) strategies to manage its transition from building to operating the National Broadband Network (NBN). While NBN Co. will continue to have a build commitment for new developments and ‘complex connections’, construction of the NBN ‘volume rollout’ was scheduled for completion by June 2020, followed by a further 18 month timeframe for completing the migration from previous infrastructure to the NBN. The transition of NBN’s operating model from network construction to one focusing on ongoing network operations was identified as a key risk in the NBN Co. Corporate Plan 2020–23. The audit would examine the extent to which NBN Co. has established and implemented measures to address this risk.

Procurement by the National Capital Authority

The audit would examine whether the National Capital Authority’s procurement framework and procurement activities are achieving value for money and complying with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

Payments to suppliers are the largest single expense for the Authority, representing 41 per cent of total expenses in 2019–20. Recently completed procurements have included a five year $7.2 million contract to operate and maintain Scrivener Dam, a four year $6.9 million contract for pay parking on National Land and a $3.1 million contract let as part of the three year program to repair, strengthen and renew the walls of Lake Burley Griffin.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Prime Minister and Cabinet

COVID-19: Australian Government Crisis Management Framework

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework (the Framework) in facilitating the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Framework outlines high-level arrangements under which crises of national significance are to be managed. National plans and arrangements developed by Australian Government agencies must reflect the roles and responsibilities set out in the Framework.

Governance and coordination arrangements for the Australian Government’s COVID-19 response, established from March 2020, differed from the standing arrangements outlined in the Framework. The Framework states that special purpose or temporary response mechanisms may be appropriate in some cases, noting the importance of clear lines for information sharing, decision-making and accountability. The Framework was updated in October 2020 to reflect changes to the crisis management arrangements, such as the establishment of the National Cabinet and the creation of the National Coordination Mechanism in the Department of Home Affairs.

The audit would examine whether the pre-existing Framework arrangements were fit for purpose during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether arrangements established in response to the pandemic were guided by the Framework and whether crisis management lessons from the pandemic have been captured.

Effectiveness of the Data Integration Partnership for Australia

This audit would assess entities’ effectiveness in implementing the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA) and using the data infrastructure and results from it to improve public policy and administration.

The DIPA provided $130.8 million to maximise the use and value of the government’s data assets from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2020. The audit could include assessment of risk management, project selection, project oversight, data quality, cyber security and how results are being used.

Food Security in remote Indigenous communities

The audit could assess the effectiveness of the initiatives to ensure food security initiatives for remote Indigenous communities.

Food security falls within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2, and is critical to improve the nutrition of people worldwide. The Australian Government contributes to food security in remote communities through a number of measures, including:

  • the Community Store Licensing Scheme — legislated through the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act 2012 and administered by National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA, the lead entity for Commonwealth policy development, program design, implementation and service delivery for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples), which receives around $1 million to $2 million a year in Commonwealth funding ($13.4 million over 2012–13 to 2021–22); and
  • Outback Stores, a Commonwealth-owned company within the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio that provides $1.5 million to $2 million a year for retail services to 39 remote communities across the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

In December 2020, the Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs released the report of its Inquiry into food pricing and food security on remote Indigenous communities. The inquiry concluded that despite three previous recent examinations of food security, concerns remain and that there was an opportunity to learn from the measures put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic in remote communities.

The audit could review the administration of food security initiatives, including NIAA’s role in the coordination of Commonwealth, state and territory programs, and follow on the Standing Committee’s recommendations.

Management of Indigenous Entities

The audit would assess the effectiveness of the administration of one or more Indigenous entities in the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio. Entities that may be included in the audit may include the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) and Aboriginal Hostels Limited (AHL).

ILSC’s purpose is to assist Aboriginal persons and Torres Strait Islanders to acquire land and water related rights; and manage Indigenous-held land and waters. ILSC is funded through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund and received $54.1 million in 2019–20.

AHL’s purpose is to provide short term accommodation for Indigenous Australians who must live away from home to access services, education and economic opportunities. It owns 45 facilities across Australia, offering over 1700 beds. In 2019–20, the Australian Government appropriation to AHL was $36.2 million.

The audit could focus on governance and risk management, and the key activities undertaken by these entities.

National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the agency in making grants and loans to agricultural businesses in response to drought and flood. Under the Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure Grants program, $300 million will be made available to primary producers for restocking, replanting and infrastructure rebuilding through a funding round announced on 23 March 2019. As at 30 June 2020, 214 grants worth $55.3 million had been approved. The agency›s 2019–20 annual report noted that a further $1.75 billion loan package is ‘on hold’ due to the banking sector lending to primary producers.

This audit could include an assessment of: decision-making authority and risk management; compliance with the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines; whether any loans are being appropriately assessed and managed; performance measurement; and preparedness for evaluation.

National Indigenous Australians Agency’s management of provider fraud and non-compliance

The audit would assess the effectiveness of the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s (NIAA’s) arrangements to control the risk of grant recipient fraud and non-compliance.

The Indigenous Advancement Strategy has a budget of $5.2 billion over the four years to 2022–23. As at February 2020, NIAA was funding 1,838 grants to over 1,000 service providers, valued at $3.97 billion. Inadequate control of fraud and non-compliance would create a significant risk of misuse of public money, and would have a detrimental impact on the performance and availability of services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The audit could provide assurance that NIAA has effective arrangements supporting the integrity of programs aimed at improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Remote housing in the Northern Territory

The audit would examine the design and implementation of the National Partnership for Remote Housing in the Northern Territory.

On 30 March 2019 the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments entered into the National Partnership for Remote Housing in the Northern Territory (2018–23).The Partnership aims to improve health and physical outcomes for Indigenous people through increasing the supply and standard of remote housing. The Commonwealth will provide up to $550 million in funding over five years to improve health and physical outcomes, with the Northern Territory Government providing matching funding, creating a $1.1 billion joint government investment over five years.

The audit could examine the implementation of the partnership, coordination with the Northern Territory Government and other key stakeholders, progress against the desired outcomes and how success will be measured.

Remuneration packages of accountable authorities

The audit would focus on entity compliance with requirements for remuneration arrangements for accountable authorities. Remuneration arrangements, including allowances and entitlements, are set by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal. The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (PGPA) Rule 2014 has standardised and transparent remuneration disclosure arrangements of key management personnel, senior executives and other highly paid staff in entity annual reports. Entities are required to disclose information on policies and practices that set out its governance and basis on which remuneration are determined.

This audit could assess the extent to which entity policies and practices align with PGPA requirements and arrangements set by the Remuneration Tribunal. Of particular focus would be entity alignment with Tribunal review outcomes and determinations.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Services Australia

Debt administration and recovery

This audit would assess the effectiveness of Services Australia’s administration and recovery of debt accrued by welfare payment recipients. The audit would examine whether Services Australia debt recovery systems accurately record debts and determination for repayments or other action, and effectively recover welfare debt.

Services Australia is required under legislation to manage and pursue the recovery of debts and negotiate suitable payment arrangements for customers based on their capacity to repay the debt. Welfare payment recipients can accrue a debt for a variety of reasons, including as a result of Service Australia’s compliance activity. In 2019–20, Services Australia raised 1.7 million social welfare debts valued at $2.4 billion. In April 2020 the Australian Government announced a temporary six-month national debt pause to help Australians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in about $1 billion less in debts raised than previous years.

If a person fails to make or maintain a payment arrangement for their debt, Services Australia has a range of options available. These options include to: apply an interest charge on the debt; use a contracted external collection agent to recover a debt with commission only paid on the recovered amount; garnishee wages, money held in bank accounts or income tax refunds; or issue a Departure Prohibition Order. In 2019–20, Services Australia recovered $1.75 billion in debt (a similar amount to the previous two years).

Management of customer information and data

This audit would assess the effectiveness of Services Australia’s collection, verification, recording and exchange of customer information and data. The audit would examine the controls and procedures for the collection and recording of customer information and data, arrangements for selected third party access and data quality assurance programs.

Through Services Australia’s delivery of Medicare, Centrelink, pension payments and other services, the agency holds data relating to most Australians. The collection of customer information and data occurs at the time of application and can be amended over time to reflect changes in circumstances.

Protecting the integrity of payments is a key entity risk. Services Australia seeks to improve payment integrity through better access to data and improved analytics. This includes through data exchange with third parties — such as higher education providers and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) — to streamline processes, provide faster outcomes and reduce debt. The integrity of customer information and data is integral to these processes.

The audit would also examine Services Australia’s identity management policies against Australia’s National Identity Security Strategy and Guideline requirements.

Modernising the customer experience

Services Australia is seeking to transform the way they work to deliver simple, helpful, respectful and transparent experiences for customers.

This audit will examine the effectiveness of Services Australia use of the ‘customer experience’ as the core focus of service delivery mechanisms. This may include how customer insights, experience and feedback is applied in human centred design processes.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Social Services

COVID-19: COVIDSafe app

The audit would assess how economically and effectively the COVIDSafe app was designed and is being used.

On 26 April 2020 the Australian Government released the COVIDSafe app. The app uses Bluetooth to find other phones with the COVIDSafe app and records the date, time, distance and duration of contact. It is designed to support the manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. When the app was released, the Minister for Health described it as ‘one of the critical tools we will use to help protect the health of the community by quickly alerting people who may be at risk of having contact with COVID-19’. Around 7 million people had downloaded the app by August 2020.

The first interim report of the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 published in December 2020 found ‘the app launched with significant performance issues and has only been of limited effectiveness in its primary function of contact tracing’. The committee recommended the Australian Government commission an independent review into expenditure on, and design of, the COVIDSafe app. The Government is yet to respond to this recommendation.

The audit would examine the design and procurement processes for the app, how effectively it has been promoted and the extent to which it has been assisting in contact tracing.

Developing and delivering digital identity reforms (GovPass)

This audit would review the progress of the implementation, design and functionality of the system, roles and responsibilities of stakeholders (Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), Home Affairs and providers) and allocation and expenditure of funding, including contract management.

GovPass is run by the DTA and is made up of four intersecting elements: the Trusted Digital Identity Framework, the identity exchange (run by Home Affairs), digital identity providers (currently limited to myGovID and Australia Post) and service providers (currently a limited number of government services).

Effectiveness of Supported Independent Living Services

This audit would examine the effectiveness of the National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA’s) management of the delivery of Supported Independent Living (SIL) services. This would include the effectiveness of contracted Local Area Coordinators and Support Coordinators in assisting eligible participants with finding a SIL provider, and with finding community, public, or private housing.

SIL services provide help or supervision with personal daily tasks in the home to assist National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants to live as independently as possible. SIL includes paid personal supports, such as having a support worker to assist with personal care tasks or cooking meals. SIL participant plans represent approximately 40 per cent of total support costs. Supports for 2019–20 totalled $16.1bn. The average plan payment for SIL participants increased from around $181,000 to $296,000 over the three years to 2019–20 (approximately 19% per annum growth rate). NDIA is implementing further reforms to SIL services specifically targeted at driving better outcomes for participants while ensuring financial sustainability.

Effectiveness of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission’s regulatory functions

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguards Commission’s regulatory functions.

The Commission was established in 2018 and is responsible for implementing the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework. The Framework is designed to provide a nationally consistent approach to help empower and support NDIS participants to exercise choice and control, while ensuring appropriate safeguards are in place and establishing expectations for providers and their staff to deliver high quality support. From July 2019, the Commission has been responsible for NDIS provider registration, complaints, serious incident notification, oversight of restrictive practices and investigation and enforcement.

Implementation and Performance of the Cashless Debit Card Trial — follow up

This audit would examine the Department of Social Services’ (DSS’) implementation of the recommendations from Auditor-General Report No.1 of 2018–19 The Implementation and Performance of the Cashless Debit Card Trial. The audit could also examine the extension and expansion of the trial and changes to the payment technologies.

As part of the 2019–20 Budget, the Government announced a further extension and expansion of the Cashless Debit Card in existing locations to 30 June 2021. This included the transition of approximately 23,000 Income Management participants in the Northern Territory and Cape York to the Cashless Debit Card in 2020. The Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Continuation of Cashless Welfare) Bill 2020 and related instruments sought to establish the cashless debit card scheme as a permanent measure in trial sites locations, and to transition the Northern Territory and Cape York areas from income management to the cashless debit card scheme. The bill passed and, as amended, the Social Security (Administration) Amendment (Continuation of Cashless Welfare) Act 2020 instead extended the operation of the cashless debit card trial by two years to 31 December 2022.

As part of the 2020–21 Federal Budget, the Government announced ongoing funding for the Cashless Debit Card to continue the Cashless Debit Card in existing locations on an ongoing basis as well as provide support to transition participants from Income Management to Cashless Debit Card in the Northern Territory and Cape York.

National Redress Scheme

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of Social Services’ design and implementation of the National Redress Scheme for people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse.

The National Redress Scheme was launched on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years. The scheme is designed to hold institutions accountable for abuse and helps people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse gain access to services and redress-payments of up to $150,000.

Participating institutions are anticipated to contribute $4.3 billion, while $33.4 million was spent on establishment costs. 2,537 redress payments were made in 2019–20, ranging from less than $10,000 to $150,000. The average payment in 2019–20 was $81,876 and payments totalled $205 million.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Treasury

COVID-19: Debt management

This audit would examine the effectiveness of the Australian Office of Financial Management’s (AOFM) management of Australian Government debt. The Australian Government has raised the level of government debt to fund its COVID-19 economic response measures. By June 2021, gross and net debt are expected to reach $852 billion and $692 billion respectively.

The AOFM’s responsibilities include managing the Australian Government’s debt portfolio through the issuance of Australian Government Securities and the Australian Government’s overall cash balance in the Official Public Account. The audit would include bond issuance, debt portfolio management and market engagement.

Global Switch Ultimo

Global Switch Ultimo (GSU) is a privately-owned data centre. It is the primary data repository for a number of large entities including Defence, the ATO, ASIC, Home Affairs, the NBN and the Australian Digital Health Agency. It holds about 40 petabytes of data up to secret level.

In 2016, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approved an application from GSU’s owners to sell up to 51 per cent of the company to Elegant Jubilee, a consortium largely comprised of Chinese private and government entities. The proposal was approved subject to conditions. After a number of company sales and restructures, Elegant Jubilee became effectively 100 per cent Chinese owned. In September 2019, the government decided that the only way to mitigate the threat to national security was for all government entities to exit GSU completely. A total of $645 million has been allocated to this task (this does not include the cost of securing alternative arrangements or purchasing all new hardware). This process is underway but will not be complete until 2024–25 for Defence.

An audit could examine the FIRB’s (and other entities’) risk assessment processes prior to the 2016 FIRB approval. It could also examine the risk assessments for new alternative arrangements. Finally, it could also involve an assessment of the value for money of the government decision (in 2008) to outsource government data storage and hosting to the private sector.

Implementation of the government response to the Black Economy Taskforce

This audit would assess the effectiveness of Treasury and other entities in implementing the 2018 government response to the Taskforce’s 2017 report into the black economy. The government accepted or partly accepted the majority of the 62 recommendations and 13 supplementary recommendations that apply across government. As part of the 2018–19 Budget the Government announced a range of Black Economy Package measures including further expansion of taxable payments reporting, combatting illicit tobacco, introducing an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000, new and enhanced ATO enforcement, removing tax deductibility of non-compliant payments, consulting on a new regulatory framework for Australian Business Numbers and changes to Government procurement requirements to incentivise tax compliance in supply chains and increasing the ability of enforcement agencies to detect and disrupt black economy participants.

Implementation of the National Partnership on Regulatory Reform

This audit would assess the effectiveness of Treasury in administering $300m in grants to the States and the Territories to implement 28 defined projects designed to lessen the regulatory burden and remove restrictions to business growth and competition that hinder small businesses.

As part of this funding, the National Competition Council received additional funding of $12.9 million over six years from 2017–18 to assess the adequacy of State and Territory reform proposals and their achievement of reform commitments.

The audit would consider compliance with the agreements and any assessment of project benefits.

National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the agency in making grants and loans to agricultural businesses in response to drought and flood. Under the Restocking, Replanting and On-farm Infrastructure Grants program, $300 million will be made available to primary producers for restocking, replanting and infrastructure rebuilding through a funding round announced on 23 March 2019. As at 30 June 2020, 214 grants worth $55.3 million had been approved. The agency›s 2019–20 annual report noted that a further $1.75 billion loan package is ‘on hold’ due to the banking sector lending to primary producers.

This audit could include an assessment of: decision-making authority and risk management; compliance with the Commonwealth Grants Rules and Guidelines; whether any loans are being appropriately assessed and managed; performance measurement; and preparedness for evaluation.

Probity management in financial regulators

This audit would assess the management of interests, information, gifts, regulatory activities, internal controls and credit cards at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, including direction and oversight by accountable authorities.

Please send feedback about this draft program to communication@anao.gov.au. Submissions close on 27 April 2021 at 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

Cross Entity

Cyber security strategies of commercial entities supporting government

This audit would assess the effectiveness of commercial entities complying with relevant government cyber security requirements.

The scope of the audit would include an examination of the effectiveness and maturity of commercial entities’ cyber security strategies, and also the effectiveness of government ensuring contracted providers comply with relevant security requirements, such as the Protective Security Policy Framework.

Effectiveness of the Data Integration Partnership for Australia

This audit would assess entities’ effectiveness in implementing the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA) and using the data infrastructure and results from it to improve public policy and administration.

The DIPA provided $130.8 million to maximise the use and value of the government’s data assets from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2020. The audit could include assessment of risk management, project selection, project oversight, data quality, cyber security and how results are being used.

Implementation of ANAO and parliamentary committee recommendations

This audit series would assess the effectiveness of governance arrangements in selected entities for monitoring and implementing agreed ANAO performance audit and parliamentary committee recommendations.

In their reports, the ANAO and parliamentary committees identify areas where administrative improvements can be made and make recommendations to improve the delivery of outcomes. Once entities have agreed to implement performance audit recommendations, or in the case of parliamentary committee reports, the Australian Government has committed to the implementation of recommendations, timely implementation in line with the intended outcome of the recommendation is important in achieving the full benefit of the recommendation.

This topic has been identified as a priority of the Parliament in 2018–19 and 2020–21.

Implementation of the revised Protective Security Policy Framework

This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Attorney-General’s Department in promoting the revised Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) and the extent to which selected entities are meeting its core requirements.

The Attorney-General has overall policy responsibility for Australian Government protective security arrangements, while accountable authorities are responsible for protective security arrangements within their own organisations. The PSPF assists entities to protect their people, information and assets at home and overseas by providing policy, guidance and better practice advice for governance, personnel, physical and information security.

In 2015 the Independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation (the Review) identified the PSPF as an opportunity for reform and red tape reduction. The Review recommended a shift from the existing compliance framework underpinned by risk management principles, to a principles-based approach. The new PSPF policy aims to reduce the administrative burden of compliance and to support entities to better engage with risks relevant to their functions. Entities are required to review their policies, procedures and templates and consider whether any changes are necessary to implement core requirements.

Management of Cyber Security

The audit would continue the ANAO’s series of audits of cyber security.

The scope would include comparing the entities’ cyber security framework and controls against the mandatory controls required under the Protective Security Policy Framework and the Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential Eight Maturity Model.

Procurement complaints handling

An audit would examine whether appropriate systems and processes are in place in a selection of entities including the Department of Finance to identify to potential tenderers how to make a complaint as well as the management of complaints received about the conduct of procurement activities.

In relation to ethical behaviour, the CPRs require that, if a compliant is received, entities must apply timely, equitable and non-discriminatory complaint handling procedures including providing acknowledgement soon after the complaint has been received. In the first instance, complaints are to be made to the entity responsible for the procurement. Where complaints are not resolved satisfactorily and the complainant considers it relates to the tender specifications that prevented a competitive response being prepared, the complaint can be referred to the Procurement Coordinator in the Department of Finance. In addition to the arrangements under the CPRs, the Government Procurement (Judicial Review) Act 2018 established an independent complain mechanism for certain procurement processes.

Public sector board membership reporting

This information report will seek to provide greater transparency over board membership across the public sector. This information report will neither be an audit nor an assurance review and presents no conclusions or opinions. The report will present in a variety of ways, including tables and figures, publicly available data on public sector board membership recorded in annual reports.

Regulator management of conflicts of interest

The audit would examine the effectiveness of arrangements to manage conflicts of interest in selected Commonwealth regulators.

The implementation of a robust ethical framework supports probity and accountability in regulatory decision-making and public confidence in the regulator. Conflicts of interest may arise through the personal interests of staff and their engagement with regulated entities and industry bodies. Under Commonwealth legislation, public servants are required to take reasonable steps to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest and disclose any relevant material personal interests.

The audit follows Auditor-General Report No.47, 2013–14, Managing Conflicts of Interest in FMA Agencies, and previous Audit Insights on Management of Conflicts of Interest in Procurement Activity and Grants Programs.

Remuneration packages of accountable authorities

The audit would focus on entity compliance with requirements for remuneration arrangements for accountable authorities. Remuneration arrangements, including allowances and entitlements, are set by the Commonwealth Remuneration Tribunal. The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (PGPA) Rule 2014 has standardised and transparent remuneration disclosure arrangements of key management personnel, senior executives and other highly paid staff in entity annual reports. Entities are required to disclose information on policies and practices that set out its governance and basis on which remuneration are determined.

This audit could assess the extent to which entity policies and practices align with PGPA requirements and arrangements set by the Remuneration Tribunal. Of particular focus would be entity alignment with Tribunal review outcomes and determinations.