The objective of the audit was to assess the application of the outcomes and outputs framework in Australian Government agencies. The audit included a review of:

  • the outcomes and outputs of agencies and the integration of the outcomes and outputs framework into agencies' operations;
  • the extent to which agencies' performance indicators incorporated better practice characteristics to enable agencies to meet their performance reporting obligations;
  • agencies' processes for capturing, monitoring and reporting financial and performance information and the extent to which outcomes and outputs information was used in agency decision-making; and
  • the extent that agencies met their external reporting and accountability obligations.

The audit consisted of a survey of 44 agencies subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) undertaken in October 2005 and detailed audit testing in three of those agencies. The purpose of the survey was to provide cross-agency data in relation to agencies' implementation of the framework during the period 2002–03 to 2005–06. The ANAO received responses from all 44 agencies, although not all agencies responded to all questions. The ANAO did not audit the information provided by survey participants and the reported results are based on agencies' responses to the survey.

The agencies at which detailed audit testing was undertaken were:

  • Department of Education Science and Training;
  • the then Department of the Environment and Heritage; and
  • IP Australia.

Summary

Background

The Outcomes and Outputs framework (‘the framework') provides the basis of the Government's approach to budgeting and reporting for public sector agencies and the means by which the Parliament appropriates funds in the annual budget context.

The framework was introduced, together with accrual budgeting, in 1999–2000. At the time of its introduction, the framework represented a significant step in the evolution of the government's management and budgeting reforms and was intended to provide an increased focus on outcomes and results.

The stated aims of the framework were to:

  • provide a framework for better managing complexity;
  • align departmental outputs with the outcomes the government specifies it wants achieved; 
    improve the quality of decision-making within agencies;
  • enhance the transparency of management decisions and activities; and
  • provide a management and accountability system based on indicators of effectiveness and performance.

The key elements of the framework are:

  • specification of what government is seeking to achieve (outcomes);
  • specification of how the actual deliverables will assist in achieving the outcomes (outputs);
  • identification of expenses, revenues, assets or liabilities managed by agencies on behalf of the Government (administered items);
  • establishment of a performance management regime that includes indicators of effectiveness and efficiency; and
  • annual performance reporting of agencies' contributions to the achievement of outcomes and the delivery of outputs.

These elements have not changed since its introduction, although the issues faced by agencies in implementing the framework continue to evolve.

A key consideration in establishing and maintaining a framework that remains relevant, informative and useful to a range of internal and external stakeholders, is the very nature of government business. In the Australian Government context, the functions of government include policy formulation and implementation, regulatory activities, direct service delivery and the payment of monies to those directly responsible for service delivery. The outcomes sought by government will range from those with a short term focus to those that will only be achieved in the longer term. Further, the achievement of outcomes will often depend on a number of factors and may include the contribution of up to three levels of government and a number of agencies.

As outcomes describe the purposes for which funds are appropriated, outcome statements need to be expressed with sufficient specificity to meet the requirements for a legally valid appropriation. In doing this, outcome statements should capture in succinct terms the impacts government intends to achieve through agency outputs and any administrative items the agency manages on behalf of the Government. Outcomes are specified by the responsible Minister with the endorsement of the Finance Minister.

The increasing emphasis on the whole of government delivery of services requires agencies to work together to develop budgeting and reporting arrangements that meet both the accountability obligations of individual agencies and also contribute to the collective achievement of, and accountability for, whole-of-government outcomes.

Application of the framework by agencies also requires a balance between expressing outcomes and outputs to reflect an agency's particular environment and the benefits of providing the Parliament and other stakeholders with information that is consistently presented and facilitates comparisons over time and, where relevant, between agencies.

The public sector is faced with changing Parliamentary, government, and community priorities and expectations that require agencies to periodically review, and refine as necessary, performance budgeting and management regimes, including outcomes and outputs. Changes to outcomes and outputs can, however, make it difficult for stakeholders, particularly the Parliament, to track agency performance over time. It is therefore important that agencies disclose, to the extent possible, the impact that framework changes have on expenditure patterns and performance information over time.

In a public sector environment the development of a relevant and informative performance budgeting and management regime, characterised by multiple objectives and stakeholders is inherently a difficult task. The regime required by the framework involves establishing and measuring performance relating to both the effectiveness of an agency's contribution to outcomes and the efficiency of its activities. Efficiency is expected to be measured by assessing the quality, quantity and price of agency goods or services.1 Agencies often find it challenging to implement all the required elements of such a regime in a manner that concisely reports on effectiveness and efficiency.

In the light of the above issues, it is perhaps not surprising that reports of Parliamentary Committees and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), together with a range of other commentators have all pointed to the implementation of the framework as being ‘work in progress'. This also mirrors the results of studies undertaken by the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development (OECD) on the experience of overseas jurisdictions that have introduced an outcomes and outputs framework. 

Parliamentary and other reviews of the framework

Since the introduction of the framework in 1999–2000, there have been a number of Parliamentary and Government inquiries or reviews that have addressed elements of the framework. In some cases these have been a part of a broader review of budget and related policies and processes.

Details of the reviews undertaken are provided below: 2

  • in July 1999 the ‘Vertigan Report' reported on the results of a review of the 1999–2000 Budget estimates production arrangements for expenses and revenues. The report concluded, amongst other things, that the accrual-based outcomes and outputs framework constituted international best practice;3
  • the then Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee has tabled three reports on the format and contents of Portfolio Budget Statements (PBSs). The latter two reports included a review of the outcomes and outputs framework. The second report in October 1999 discussed the need for less aggregated financial information, more standardisation across PBSs and forward estimates for outcomes and outputs. The third report tabled in November 2000 discussed the need for forward estimates for administered items and again pointed to the need for greater consistency and comparability of pricing and performance information contained in the PBS;
  • in June 2002, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) tabled Report No.388, Review of Accrual Budget Documentation. The Committee examined, amongst other things, the structure of the outcomes and outputs framework, the continuity of financial and performance information, the level of detail in PBSs, and the appropriateness of performance information. The JCPAA concluded that ‘…the overall structure of the accrual budget documentation framework is sound. However, there will need to be continuous refinement and this may take a number of years';4
  • in 2002, the Government undertook a Budgets Estimate Framework Review (BEFR) that, amongst other things, recommended that ‘Finance, in consultation with agencies, undertake a progressive review of all agencies' outcomes to ensure that they appropriately reflect the purpose of the agency'. Finance proposed in 2002 that this review would be progressively undertaken with a report provided to the Minister for Finance and Administration in 2004–05.5 Finance has advised the ANAO that this review was still in progress at the time of preparation of this report; and
  • in June 2006, the then Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee commenced an inquiry into the Transparency and Accountability of Commonwealth Public Funding and Expenditure. This inquiry was commenced following the tabling in December 2005 of a report by the Committee on Government Advertising and Accountability. Amongst other things, this report commented on the Combet case's6 consideration of agencies' outcome statements in relation to Parliament's role in monitoring and approving Government expenditure. The Committee noted that the Combet judgement raised questions that go much wider than expenditure on government advertising. They concern the whole financial accountability framework and Parliament's role in monitoring and approving government expenditure. The Committee recommended that the Senate refer to it for inquiry and report the matter of the impact of outcome budgeting for appropriations on Parliamentary consideration and approval of government expenditure, and the accountability of government for such expenditure. 7

With the exception of the 2006 inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration (SFPAC' that was in progress at the time of preparation of this report, the reviews undertaken were completed within three years of the framework's introduction.

Implementation and reporting requirements

Guidance on implementing the framework and requirements for annual performance reporting has been issued by the Department of Finance and Administration (Finance) and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) 8respectively.

The Finance guidance outlines the requirements for agencies to provide performance information relating to the achievement of outcomes, outputs and administered items. In particular, agencies are required to provide information on the efficiency of agency outputs and the effectiveness of those outputs and any administered items in contributing to the achievement of outcomes. Agencies are also required to provide an indication of the overall state of outcomes. The guidance also outlines
Cabinet-endorsed performance management principles of balance and clarity, strategic focus, targets, and the continuous improvement of performance information.9

The annual performance reporting requirements require, amongst other things, agencies' annual reports to include, a review of how the agency has performed during the year in relation to the efficiency of the outputs and their effectiveness in terms of achieving planned outcomes together with a discussion and analysis of the agency's financial performance for the year.

Audit scope and objectives

The objective of the audit was to assess the application of the outcomes and outputs framework in Australian Government agencies. The audit included a review of:

  • the outcomes and outputs of agencies and the integration of the outcomes and outputs framework into agencies' operations;
  • the extent to which agencies' performance indicators incorporated better practice characteristics to enable agencies to meet their performance reporting obligations;
  • agencies' processes for capturing, monitoring and reporting financial and performance information and the extent to which outcomes and outputs information was used in agency decision-making; and
  • the extent that agencies met their external reporting and accountability obligations.

The audit consisted of a survey of 44 agencies subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 (FMA Act) undertaken in October 2005 and detailed audit testing in three of those agencies. The purpose of the survey was to provide cross-agency data in relation to agencies' implementation of the framework during the period 2002–03 to 2005–06. The ANAO received responses from all 44 agencies, although not all agencies responded to all questions. The ANAO did not audit the information provided by survey participants and the reported results are based on agencies' responses to the survey.

The agencies at which detailed audit testing was undertaken were:

  • Department of Education Science and Training;
  • the then Department of the Environment and Heritage;10 and
  • IP Australia.

Audit conclusion and key findings

Audit conclusion

The introduction of an accrual based outcomes and outputs framework in 1999–2000 was a key element of a series of financial and management reforms aimed at building an improved performance culture within the public sector. The framework was designed to provide a basis for deciding and managing what agencies should produce, assessing how well it was produced, how it contributed to the Government's outcomes, and at what cost.

The 2005–06 financial year represented the seventh year since the framework was introduced and the key elements of the framework have remained largely unchanged over this period. As such, the ANAO expected agencies to have:

  •  well-established frameworks that incorporated the characteristics outlined in guidance material published by Finance and in the Better Practice Guide on Annual Performance Reporting prepared jointly by the ANAO and Finance and published in 2004;
  • integrated, to the extent appropriate, outcomes and outputs into their planning, performance management and decision-making processes; and
  • well-established business processes that enabled agencies to meet their reporting obligations.

Overall, the audit found that although the application of the outcomes and outputs framework in each of the audited agencies' incorporated some better practice characteristics, each agency had aspects that required improvement. The survey results also highlighted areas requiring improvement in the surveyed agencies.

There was a very broad spread in the number of outcomes and outputs, and a wide variation in the approaches taken in describing outcomes and outputs. This reflected the diverse range and nature of government objectives as well as the activities undertaken by agencies and the different ways agencies have interpreted and applied the Finance outcomes and outputs guidance. A number of outcomes statements were expressed in broad terms and did not specify the target group or the result or impact to be achieved. The ANAO considers high level outcome statements can contribute to agencies experiencing difficulties in demonstrating the link between their outputs and the outcomes to which they contribute and can provide limited information for decision-making. Senate Committee reports, the BEFR and more recently the Combet case have all drawn attention to the broad nature of outcome statements.

The extent to which the structure of agencies' outcomes and outputs reflected agencies' deliverables, and facilitated the development of performance indicators for the measurement of the achievement of outcomes and the efficiency of agency operations, varied considerably. The ANAO considered that in some instances the absence of direct linkages between outcomes and outputs reduced the extent to which agencies' PBSs and annual reports disclosed informative and relevant information to stakeholders.

The variability in agencies' outcomes and output structures reinforces the importance of agencies' periodically reviewing outcomes and outputs so that they enable agencies to identify and measure their contribution to the achievement of outcomes and measure the efficiency of delivering outputs.

The extent to which the framework had been integrated into agencies' operations also varied. The audit found that outcomes and outputs were not always linked to, or reflected in, agencies' strategic planning and performance management processes.

The audit found that the development of a comprehensive, relevant and informative regime of performance indicators, as well as having cost effective systems and processes to capture, monitor and report complete, accurate and relevant agency performance, continued to be challenging for many agencies. In particular, the audit identified that many performance indicators did not enable an assessment to be made on whether desired results were achieved, as the indicators did not incorporate targets, benchmarks or other details of the extent of achievement expected.

The audit identified that each of the audited agencies generally had sound methodologies in place for the attribution of costs to individual outcomes and outputs.

The majority of surveyed agencies indicated that they used, to varying degrees, outcomes and outputs information in agency decision-making. Nevertheless, the survey results and the review of audited agencies identified that further attention should be given to including outcomes and outputs budget and performance information in regular management reports.

The audit also highlighted that, in many agencies with administered items, programme information was seen as being more relevant to the day-to-day management of agencies, with outcomes and outputs information being viewed as being necessary to obtain annual appropriations and to meet external accountability requirements. In this context, it is relevant that, commencing from June 2003, general government sector agencies were progressively required to provide government, on a monthly basis, expenditure details by programme.11 To supplement outcomes and outputs information in their annual reports, a number of agencies also included details of programme expenditure, reflecting the relevance of programme information to the agency and stakeholders.

The ANAO considered that agencies' ongoing application of the framework would be enhanced by:

  • the Finance guidance more clearly identifying mandatory or minimum requirements;
  • the guidance incorporating principles that agencies should follow in determining whole of government budget and reporting arrangements;
  • Finance periodically reviewing and updating the guidance so that it remains current and informative in light of financial management and related developments; and
  • Finance facilitating the exchange of information and experiences in the application of the framework as well as providing practical advice in relation to specific framework issues.

The ANAO also identified a number of enhancements in relation to the framework which, if adopted, have the potential to improve consistency in agency reporting and to further assist in meeting the needs of stakeholders. These include:

  • reviewing the extent to which programme information can be integrated into the framework; and
  • enhancing the reporting of expenditure and performance against new Budget measures.

Key findings

Outcomes and Outputs Structures (Chapter 2)

There was a wide variation in the way outcomes and outputs were structured. Surveyed agencies indicated that in the 2005–06 PBS the number of outcomes ranged from one, in over half the agencies, to 11 in one agency. The number of outputs ranged from none12 in one agency, to 52 in another agency. 13

The audit found that many of the surveyed agencies' outcomes and outputs structures had changed to, amongst other things, reflect changes in function arising from Administrative Arrangement Orders (AAOs) and government policy, establish better links between outcomes and outputs, achieve greater specificity in wording and to reflect organisational change.

Outcome statements were, in some instances, expressed in broad terms and did not specify the target group or the result or impact to be achieved. In addition, not all outputs sufficiently described agencies' key deliverables. This impacted on agencies' ability to demonstrate a link between outputs and outcomes and to measure and report on the effectiveness of their contribution to achieving outcomes and the efficiency of their operations.

Survey results indicated that, as required, changes to outcomes during the survey period were endorsed by the Finance Minister.14 The audit found that agencies had adopted various approaches to changing their outputs. Some agencies indicated that Ministerial approval was obtained for changes, a small number advised they had routinely sought advice from Finance and/or notified their Minister of the changes. In view of the range of outputs specified in surveyed agencies and the variation in approaches taken in specifying agency outputs, the ANAO considered there would be merit in Finance taking a stronger role in providing advice to agencies on the specification of outputs.

The extent to which agencies had integrated outcomes and outputs information into agency operations varied. As such there was scope to better utilise outcome and output information in corporate and work area planning processes and documents such as business plans, as well as in individual performance agreements.

Establishing Agency Performance Indicators (Chapter 3)

A balanced set of performance indicators that addresses all key aspects of an agency's performance is a critical element of the outcomes and outputs framework. Agencies are expected to measure performance at two levels: the effectiveness of the contribution of agency outputs and funds administered on behalf of the Government to achieving outcomes, and the efficiency of agency outputs.

Performance indicators are expected to be a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures, incorporate a range of better practice characteristics, and be cost-effective to collect, analyse and report against.

Findings from both the survey of agencies and the ANAO's detailed testing indicated that:

  • the large majority of the surveyed agencies indicated that they had developed outcome effectiveness performance indicators. In the absence of such indicators, relevant agencies indicated that they used output or administered item performance to assess the effectiveness of their contribution to the achievement of outcomes. The ANAO found, however, that over a third of the surveyed agencies with administered items indicated that none of their indicators addressed the effectiveness, quality or cost of their administered items;
  • many indicators were impacted by factors outside the control of the agency including, for example, general economic conditions, or the activities of other levels of government or industry. This reduced agencies' ability to determine and report on their own performance and the performance of funds administered on behalf of the Government in contributing to achieving outcomes;
  • many indicators did not incorporate targets or benchmarks and other better practice characteristics. In particular, the majority of surveyed agencies' considered that not all their outcome and output indicators were measurable; and
  • in some instances performance indicators were no longer relevant and meaningful, suggesting that they had not been reviewed periodically.

A majority of agencies indicated in their survey responses that performance indicators were systematically reviewed although none of the audited agencies had established procedures and guidance material to assist in the development and review of indicators.

Agency Cost Attribution, Performance Monitoring, Management Reporting and Decision-Making (Chapter 4)

The reporting of agency performance in annual reports to stakeholders on particular aspects of an agency's operations is the main mechanism by which agencies meet their formal accountability obligations. All agencies need to have cost attribution processes in place to attribute direct and indirect costs for the purposes of preparing their PBS, reporting actual costs by outcomes and outputs in notes to their annual financial statements and reporting performance in their annual report.

Estimating of output price

Agencies' PBSs detail the budgeted price of outputs and the cost of administered items. The ANAO's survey results and the audit findings in the audited agencies identified that agencies used a variety of approaches for estimating the price of outputs in their PBSs. The ANAO considers that agencies would benefit from periodically reviewing the basis used to estimate the price of outputs so that PBS estimates best reflect the expected price of outputs.

Attribution of actual costs

Nearly all of the surveyed agencies indicated they had in place a sound cost allocation methodology and approximately two-thirds advised they had a quality assurance program to assist in ensuring the accuracy and reliability of cost allocations.
The audit identified that each of the audited agencies generally had sound methodologies in place for the attribution of costs to individual outcomes and outputs. Nevertheless, the ANAO considered that each of the audited agencies would benefit from having more comprehensive guidance on the principles, methodology and processes for cost attribution.

Capturing performance information and monitoring performance

The majority of surveyed agencies indicated that their systems for capturing and recording performance information, including quality assurance programs, provided accurate and reliable information. In the three audited agencies, the ANAO considered that these processes were generally sound. However, the ANAO identified a number of matters that impacted on the accurate reporting of performance, including:

  • collating annual performance results for a point in time rather than for the entire year, sometimes leading to the reporting of better results than were actually achieved;
  • a lack of guidance to assist programme areas identify appropriate methods for capturing, monitoring and reporting various types of performance information that led to results being collated and reported incorrectly; and
  • the absence of sufficient documentation to support annual performance results reported.

Management reporting, performance assessment and decision making

Approximately two-thirds of the surveyed agencies stated that their monthly financial management reports included financial information at the outcomes and outputs level or that the price of outcomes and outputs was monitored against budget on a regular basis. In the three audited agencies, only one included outcomes and outputs information in regular management reports, reducing the opportunity for this information to be routinely used in agency decision-making.

The survey results identified that the majority of agencies used outcomes and outputs information in decision-making. A higher proportion of agencies indicated that they made more extensive use of cost information15 than performance information and that information at the outputs level was used more extensively than information at the outcome level.

Nevertheless, surveyed agencies identified that the main drivers for management decision-making were government priorities, the need to comply with legislative requirements, responding to stakeholders and managing emerging risks and available resources. In addition, almost all the surveyed agencies indicated that agency performance was assessed using measures or indicators that were different or additional to the performance indicators published in their PBS and annual report. The indicators used included balanced scorecards, reporting against corporate and business plans, client and staff satisfaction surveys and benchmarking data.

The ANAO recognises that agency decision-making will generally be informed by a range of information, including financial and other information relating to programmes and particular agency activities, with less use being made of aggregate outcomes and outputs information. Nevertheless, the incorporation into agency decision-making processes of information relating to outcomes and outputs should assist agencies to focus on performance information that is used to meet their external accountability obligations.

External Reporting and Accountability (Chapter 5)

Survey results identified that the majority of agencies reported in their annual reports against all of their PBS outcome and output performance indicators.

Although the audit identified that the audited agencies met many of the annual performance reporting requirements, each of the audited agencies had not complied with a number of mandatory reporting requirements. The ANAO considered agencies needed to improve performance reporting, in particular, in relation to:

  • the overall state of outcomes;
  • the effectiveness of agency and administered items in contributing to the achievement of outcomes;
  • the efficiency of outputs; and
  • agency achievements rather than activities.

Particular attention should also be given to including narrative discussion and analysis of agency performance in annual reports.

Opportunities for Enhancing the Framework (Chapter 6)

The ANAO has also identified a number of enhancements in relation to the framework which, if adopted, have the potential to improve consistency in agency reporting and to further assist in meeting the needs of stakeholders.

Finance's outcomes and outputs guidance contains a combination of principles, requirements, suggested and better practices and as such does not clearly specify mandatory or minimum requirements with which agencies need to comply. Finance's guidance has not been updated since 2003 and does not adequately address considerations relating to application of the framework in the whole of government context. The guidance should be regularly reviewed and updated so that it remains current and informative in light of financial management and related developments, such as the reduced focus on price and comparison of performance across agencies.

The audit identified that the extent to which agency staff with responsibilities for implementing the framework were aware of the existence and requirements of the Finance guidance was mixed. The ANAO considers agencies would benefit from Finance facilitating, through forums and other mechanisms, the exchange of information and experiences as well as providing practical advice in the application of the framework.

During the course of the audit, Finance advised it was in the process of updating its guidance material. The ANAO considers that in updating its guidance, Finance should also take into account the findings of the 2006 SFPAC inquiry into the Transparency and Accountability of Commonwealth Public Funding and Expenditure when released.

Specified programme expenditure is reported to Government by agencies and some agencies include programme information in their PBSs and annual reports, although there is no requirement to do so. The ANAO considers that further consideration should be given to integrating programme information into the outcomes and outputs framework with the aim of enhancing budget and performance information for the benefit of the Parliament and other stakeholders. That said, a blanket approach should be avoided; rather it would be preferable for criteria to be developed to guide agency decision making on the inclusion of programme information.

The ANAO identified that at the time of audit there was no specific requirement to provide performance indicators in relation to new Budget measures in agencies' PBSs. The ANAO found that performance indicators were generally not provided for new measures in the audited agencies' PBSs and agencies' reporting of performance of the achievement of the objectives of new measures was limited. The ANAO considers that existing budget information could be enhanced by requiring performance and expenditure information to be provided for new Budget measures that are significant in value and/or are of particular Parliamentary or community interest.

In addition, the ANAO found that although agencies' PBSs provide forward estimates on a financial statement line item basis, forward estimates by outcomes and outputs were generally not included in audited agencies' PBSs. The ANAO recognises that the existing level of information contained in Budget documents is extensive. Nevertheless, the ANAO suggests that providing forward estimates on the basis on which Parliament appropriates funds be further considered as part of any future review of the framework.

Recommendations

The Report makes six recommendations, five of which are likely to have relevance to all agencies. The other recommendation relates to opportunities to enhance the framework and is directed at the Department of Finance and Administration.

Agency comments

Each of the audited agencies and the Department of Finance and Administration responded positively to the audit report. The agencies agreed to the recommendations with one agency agreeing in principle with Recommendation No. 1.

Footnotes

1 Finance Outcomes and Outputs guidance identifies that efficiency is assessed through a combination these indicators. Department of Finance and Administration, Outcomes and Outputs Guidance 2003, Performance Reporting Under Outcomes and Outputs, available from, <http://www.finance.gov.au/budgetgroup/Commonwealth_ Budget_-_Overview/performance_reporting.html>.

2 Where appropriate further discussion on these is included in the body of the Report.

3 Dr M. Vertigan Review of Budget Estimates Production Arrangements, Overview 28 July 1999.

4 Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) Report No.388, Review of Accrual Budget Documentation, June 2002 p vi.

5 Department of Finance and Administration, Estimates Memorandum 2002/13, Budget Estimates and Framework Review – Recommendations, 15 November 2002, p 11.

6 Combet v Commonwealth of Australia [2005] HCA 61 (21 October 2005) challenged the lawfulness of the Government's use of public money to fund its WorkChoices advertising campaign on the grounds that the expenditure was not specifically authorised by the Appropriation Act (No.1) 2005–2006. In a majority decision, the High Court concluded, amongst other things, that for departmental items (as opposed to administered items) it was not necessary to demonstrate that the expenditure fell within the terms of a particular outcome (such as outcome 2). Rather, it was sufficient to demonstrate that the amount to be spent was applied for ‘departmental expenditure'.

7 Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee Report, Government advertising and accountability, December 2005, paragraph 4.37 and Recommendation 1, paragraph 4.76.

8 PM&C Requirements, section 11(1), Requirements for Annual Reports for Departments, Executive Agencies and FMA Act Bodies (June 2006).

9 Available from Finance Guidance, Performance Reporting Under Outcomes and Outputs, <http://www.finance.gov.au/budgetgroup/Commonwealth_Budget_-_Overview/per...

10 The Department was renamed the Department of the Environment and Water Resources as a result of an Administrative Arrangement Order effective from 30 January 2007.

11 As outlined in Finance Estimates Memorandum 2002/13, p. 9, all general government sector agencies are required to submit a monthly estimates profile (cash and accruals) by programme for the budget year and annual estimates for the forward years; actual monthly results (cash and accruals) on a programme basis; and information on the level of forward commitments, for specified programmes only.

12 One agency indicated it had no outputs and that it had output groups and another agency did not specify whether it had outputs but indicated it had output groups.

13 In some instances the number of outcomes or outputs has changed for subsequent years.

14 Of the changes to outcomes in sixteen agencies, twelve were approved by the Finance Minister. The remaining four agencies stated that Cabinet, the Attorney-General, the Prime Minister or Governor-General had approved the changes to outcomes.

15 This included, to varying degrees, budget, expenditure and variance information.