The Auditor-General's annual audit work program
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The Auditor-General publishes an annual audit work program in July each year, which takes regard of the priorities of the Parliament as outlined in the Auditor-General Act. The purpose of the program is to inform the Parliament, government sector entities and the public of the audits we propose to deliver throughout the financial year. The program covers financial statement and performance audits, and other assurance activities.
The Auditor-General’s central function is to perform audit work and provide reports to the Parliament to support accountability in the Australian government sector. The Auditor-General publishes an annual audit work program in July each year, which takes regard of the priorities of the Parliament as outlined in the Auditor-General Act.
The purpose of the program is to inform the Parliament, government sector entities and the public of the audits we propose to deliver throughout the financial year, covering financial statement and performance audits, and other assurance activities. The program supplements the ANAO’s primary strategic planning document, the corporate plan.
The program is developed through extensive analysis across all areas of government service delivery, policy development, and regulatory, compliance and corporate activity. This includes looking at the delivery of large scale investments and procurements, major change programs, areas of significant citizen reliance and large outflows of government funds. While large value program delivery and project investments are a focus due to the associated risks, compliance audits are also an important component of the audit program, as they are a useful indicator of an entities performance maturity, and therefore capability to manage more significant risks.
The Auditor-General’s functions include auditing the annual financial statements of all Australian Government entities. Audit reports for financial statements are provided to Ministers and are tabled by Ministers in Parliament in entities’ annual reports. The program outlines the key risks and considerations that inform the delivery of the ANAO’s financial statements audits. The Auditor-General tables two reports in the Parliament each year outlining the results of our financial statements audits.
Our performance audit and assurance review topics target program and policy development, program administration, service delivery and regulatory activities. The proposed topics are informed by six priority considerations:
- Risk: both financial and non‑financial risk at the whole-of-system, portfolio and individual program level.
- Impact: possible benefits that will flow from audit coverage including improved transparency, administrative effectiveness, greater efficiency, improved performance and key learnings and insights for whole of government.
- Importance: the criticality of the effective and efficient delivery of the proposed topic to key stakeholders, including the Parliament and the public.
- Materiality: the significance of the program in terms of the value, dependence and in reach to citizens, and the extent to which the program contributes to the broader objectives of government or to change or influence decisions.
- Auditability: the extent to which the area of proposed audit coverage is able to be audited, with consideration for factors such as the Auditor-General’s mandate, quality and accessibility of material for analysis, and the clarity of existing frameworks and requirements.
- Previous coverage: the extent to which the area has been subject to previous audit coverage or other recent reviews and inquiries, including by the Parliament.
The process to develop the program is guided by the following objectives:
- provide a balanced audit program informed by risk, and which promotes accountability, transparency and improvements to public administration;
- follow-up on past recommendations and identify trends for improvement, or decline in performance, across government;
- apply all of the Auditor-General’s mandate; and
- respond to the interests and priorities of the Parliament of Australia.
Our aim is to achieve a balanced audit program which examines efficiency, effectiveness, economy, ethics and compliance across all areas of the Australian government. The Auditor-General is also responsible for the audit of indigenous programs and will conduct about four of these audits each year, and also produces a major report each year of Defence acquisition projects.
A draft of the annual audit work program is provided to the Parliament for consultation through the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit. We also provide the draft program to heads of Australian Government entities, and invite feedback from the public.
Following consideration of feedback obtained during the consultation period the final program is published on the ANAO website.
The program will include around 100 potential performance audit and assurance review topics, and provides details about our in-progress performance audit and assurance work. Throughout the year, the Auditor-General decides which of these will commence, based on information including identified audit priorities, recent developments in the public sector, requests for audit, and resourcing.
The Auditor-General also has discretion to explore additional areas of audit interest, beyond that published in the program.
Once a performance audit or assurance review is completed and approved by the Auditor-General, the relevant report is tabled in the Parliament of Australia. The reports are then published on the ANAO website.
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