This audit would assess the effectiveness and economy of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s procurement of strategic water to meet the Bridge the Gap targets under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan.

This audit would follow-on from Auditor-General Report No. 2 2020–21 Procurement of Strategic Water Entitlements. That audit concluded that strategic purchases of water through limited tender contributed to the Australian Government policy to bridge the gap and obtain water for the environment. The arrangements in place to support these procurements were not fully effective. The report made four recommendations aimed at reviewing and updating procurement documentation, developing assurance mechanisms for procurement activities, managing conflicts of interest and developing evaluation activities during planning to allow for baseline measures to be adequately identified.

In February 2023, the Government announced it would commence the process to buy water to Bridge the Gap under the Murray–Darling Basin Plan. This water purchase is for the remaining 49.2 gigalitres (GL) of the Bridging the Gap target. The February 2023 announcement indicated that the 49.2 GL will comprise 46 GL of surface water and 3.2 GL of groundwater, to be recovered across seven targeted catchments in the Murray–Darling Basin. The Government intends to purchase water through an open, competitive, transparent tender.

Work program portfolio

This potential Performance audit is featured in 1 annual audit work program portfolio: