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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 audit would assess the progress made by selected entities in implementing recommendations, and achieving intended benefits, from the 2015 Independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation(the Belcher review).
The Secretaries Board is overseeing implementation of the 134 agreed recommendations from the Belcher review, while entities are responsible for implementing relevant recommendations. Many of the review’s ‘whole-of-system’ recommendations are directed at four main entities: the Department of Finance; the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; the Australian Public Service Commission; and the Attorney-General’s Department.
This audit would assess the effectiveness of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s strategies to implement and monitor the Australian Government Public Data Policy Statement, as well as selected entities’ compliance with data-sharing requirements.
Published in December 2015, the policy statement acknowledges government data as a significant national resource with economic and strategic value. The statement commits government entities to make data ‘open by default’ and sets out basic principles for sharing and publishing data. Since its release, a number of initiatives have been implemented, including:
data.gov.au — an Australian Government initiative to support the discovery and publishing of public sector information for public access, better reuse across the whole of government, and openness, transparency and economic development in the Australian community; and
Office of the National Data Commissioner — responsible for streamlining how public sector data is used and shared to promote greater use of the data, drive innovation and economic benefits from greater use, and build trust with the Australian community around government’s use of Data Integration Partnership for Australia — a three-year, $130.8 million investment to maximise the use and value of the government’s data assets, starting 1 July 2017.
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 Belcher 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.
This audit would assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole-of-government legal services panel established by the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD). In 2017–18, total legal services expenditure reported by Australian Government entities was $856.78 million. Total expenditure for 2018–19 is yet to be reported.
The AGD Secretary’s Review of Commonwealth Legal Services, published in November 2017, found that ‘external legal services providers remain a critical component of the Commonwealth’s overall legal services delivery’. However, the existing model, whereby most entities purchase legal services individually, is causing entrenched inconsistency and procurement administration costs. The review recommended that a whole-of-government legal services panel be established in a manner that ensures appropriate flexibility in usage by entities to suit their individual circumstances. AGD began the process of establishing this panel in 2018. The Whole of Australian Government Legal Services Panel commenced on 15 August 2019.
The proposed audit would assess whether the panel has been designed, and is being utilised, in a manner which ensures efficiency and value for money to the Australian Government.
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.
This information report will seek to provide greater transparency over board membership across the public sector. The report will neither be an audit nor an assurance review, and will present no conclusions or opinions. It will present in a variety of ways, including tables and figures, publicly available data on public sector board membership recorded in annual reports.
This audit would assess, for selected policy initiatives, whether evidence and data were used effectively in the policy development process, including in advice provided to government.
The audit would also examine the availability of guidance and training material to entities on the effective use of evidence and data in developing policy, as recommended in Auditor-General Report No. 10 2017–18Design and Monitoring of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. Evidence-based policymaking is not a new concept, but has proven challenging to implement. Essential ingredients include the use of an appropriate methodology, availability of relevant and reliable data, transparency in approach, independence, sufficient time for development, and a receptive policymaking environment.