The objective of the audit was to assess the Department of Human Services' and the Department of Social Services’ management of selected fraud prevention and compliance Budget measures.

Summary and recommendations

Background

1. The Department of Social Services is the Australian Government entity responsible for income security and support policies and programs, including the Administered appropriations from which income support payments are made. The Department of Human Services is responsible for service delivery policy and also administers a wide range of social, health and other payments and services, including on behalf of other entities such as the Department of Social Services. To assist in protecting the integrity of government outlays that it administers, the Department of Human Services conducts a range of compliance-related activities as part of its ongoing operations. The Department of Human Services also regularly receives additional Budget funding to supplement its existing compliance activities and to address specific risks.

2. From 2012–13 to 2015–16, the Government announced seven Centrelink-related fraud prevention and compliance Budget measures to address new and existing fraud and compliance risks affecting the integrity of the social security system. As part of these measures, the Department of Human Services received $290.5 million in additional departmental funding, and in return committed to deliver Budget (Administered) savings totalling $2.1 billion in fiscal balance terms, and $1.4 billion in underlying cash balance terms over the relevant measure periods.1

Audit objective and criteria

3. The objective of the audit was to assess the Department of Human Services’ and the Department of Social Services’ management of selected fraud prevention and compliance Budget measures. To form a conclusion against the audit objective, the ANAO adopted the following high level audit criteria:

  • Have sound processes and practices been established to support the design and implementation of specific Budget-funded compliance measures?
  • Is there effective monitoring of the implementation and achievement of the measures?
  • Have expected savings and other benefits from the measures been achieved?

4. The audit focussed on seven Centrelink-related compliance measures announced in the relevant Budgets and implemented from 2012–13 to 2015–16 (see Appendix 2). In examining the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, the audit focussed on two specific initiatives that had identified savings for 2015–16—that is, the Employment Income Matching initiative and the AUSTRAC initiative. The audit’s scope did not consider any compliance measures announced following the 2015–16 Budget. Further, the audit scope did not examine the Department of Human Services’ management of its broader Centrelink compliance program.

Conclusion

5. The Department of Human Services’ management of the seven selected compliance measures resulted in:

  • three measures not being effectively implemented;
  • two measures’ implementation being partially effective—with one measure achieving the expected savings but not the expected level of compliance activity and the other measure achieving the expected level of compliance activity but not the expected savings; and
  • two measures being effectively implemented.

6. As a consequence, most of the compliance measures examined did not fully achieve their expected outcomes, including savings and addressing the risks to payment integrity, as agreed.

7. Shortcomings were also identified in the Department of Human Services’ approach to monitoring and reporting for all measures examined. As the entity responsible for the Administered appropriations against which savings were to be delivered, the Department of Social Services’ oversight of the achievements of the measures was not effective. Improvements are warranted to both the bilateral and the internal monitoring arrangements presently in place, to support both entities’ capacity to track progress against the Government’s expected outcomes, including savings targets.

8. The Department of Social Services used an agreed methodology to calculate the savings expected from the compliance measures and the Department of Human Services developed useful implementation plans to support the delivery of the measures. There are opportunities to improve both the methodology and plans.

9. The monitoring and oversight arrangements for the compliance measures, set out under the Bilateral Management Arrangement between the Department of Social Services and the Department of Human Services, have not been effective as they were not followed. The Department of Social Services as the relevant policy entity did not take responsibility for monitoring outcomes, including impacts and actual savings, achieved from the measures.

10. The Department of Human Services’ internal and external monitoring and reporting for compliance measures could be improved. While the Department of Human Services has well established monitoring and reporting arrangements, these mechanisms did not consistently provide clear and accurate advice on whether the compliance measures were achieving the desired outcomes, including savings and planned levels of activity.

Supporting findings

Designing and planning compliance measures

11. The Department of Social Services established and used a methodology, agreed with the Department of Finance, to support the design of the compliance measures, including for calculating projected savings. There would be benefit in regularly reviewing this methodology to improve assurance on the accuracy of the projected savings from compliance measures. In addition, documenting the underpinning evidence for the key assumptions used in calculating the expected savings from the measures would improve transparency and the repeatability of the use of this evidence.

12. The Department of Human Services developed useful project plans for all of the compliance measures. There is scope to include information on how the key outcomes for each compliance measure will be measured. Using these plans consistently over the life of the measure would also assist in maintaining clarity on the expected outcomes and deliverables.

Monitoring and reporting on compliance measures

13. Monitoring and oversight arrangements in place between the Department of Human Services and the Department of Social Services for the compliance measures were not effective. Requirements set out under the Bilateral Management Arrangement between the two entities were not met. In addition, the Department of Social Services as the relevant policy entity did not take responsibility for monitoring the achievements of the measures.

14. The Department of Human Services’ monitoring of savings and expenses associated with compliance measures could be improved. In the Department of Human Services’ advice to its Minister on implementation progress, the department used a methodology that did not provide reliable advice on the (gross fiscal balance) savings achieved from the measures. The Department of Human Services also does not have the systems or processes in place to provide advice on the underlying cash savings realised, including debts recovered from the majority of the compliance measures—a key outcome expected from the measures.

15. The Department of Human Services’ approach to monitoring compliance measure expenses considers whether the benefits outweigh the costs of monitoring. Developing and implementing a method to estimate the costs of compliance measures would allow the Department of Human Services to better inform its external reporting and evaluations of its compliance activities.

16. The Department of Human Services has well developed project monitoring mechanisms for reporting to its Executive. However, this monitoring system relies on accurate and consistent reporting by the responsible business areas. In this regard, the regular internal reporting on the progress of the measures has not provided a consistent and reliable indication of whether key performance outcomes, including expected savings and planned levels of activity, were on track, nor whether key risks were being effectively managed.

17. While the Department of Human Services has documented a process for its public reporting against its key performance indicators, the underlying systems and processes require greater maturity to support an accurate assessment. In this context, it is uncertain whether the Department of Human Services’ public reporting against its key performance indicator is accurate.

18. The Department of Human Services’ reporting to its Minister has been ad hoc. Following the lapsing of the previously required reporting arrangements due to the change of government in September 2013, the Department of Human Services has not reported to Government on the 2012–13 measures. The Department of Human Services also did not report annually to the Department of Finance on the outcomes realised, as it committed to do in place of reporting to Government.

Achieving compliance measure outcomes

19. The savings and other outcomes—including addressing risks to payment and business integrity—expected from the compliance measures have not been fully realised. Achievements against the expected levels of compliance activities, including business-as-usual activity agreed in the Budget, were mixed with four of the measures not achieving expected activity levels. The ANAO’s analysis indicated that the delivery against the expected savings was also mixed—four of the measures did not achieve their savings targets. Where achievements are likely to be significantly lower than commitments, the relevant minister should be promptly advised, to allow for a timely decision on whether the continued implementation of the relevant measure is the most efficient and effective use of public resources in the circumstances.

20. The Department of Human Services has project management processes in place to conduct reviews both at post implementation phase and at project closure and has completed three post implementation reviews and four closure reports for the compliance measures. The post implementation reviews could be improved by including a risk assessment of the broader implications of any issues identified and their potential impacts on the project’s overall objectives. The information reported in the closure reports could be improved by including more analysis regarding costs and effort expended on the measures, and the business-as-usual impacts.

Recommendations

Recommendation No.1

Paragraph 2.15

That in developing Budget-related compliance measures:

  1. the Department of Social Services establishes a process to regularly review the inputs used to calculate expected savings for Budget-related compliance measures; and
  2. the Department of Social Services and the Department of Human Services document the basis for assumptions and inputs used, including related data sources.

Department of Human Services response: Agreed.

Department of Social Services response: Agreed.

Recommendation No.2

Paragraph 3.52

That the Department of Human Services:

  1. in consultation with the Department of Social Services, develops and implements a method to estimate and monitor the amount of debt recovered from compliance measures;
  2. consistently reports internally on its progress and achievements for compliance measures against key performance targets and outcomes; and
  3. develops and implements a method to estimate the costs of compliance measures, to provide improved assurance over its external reporting, and to better inform evaluations of its compliance activities.

Department of Human Services response: Agreed with qualifications.

Recommendation No.3

Paragraph 4.24

That the Department of Human Services’ assessment of the outcomes and achievements of compliance Budget measures includes a complete assessment against expected additional activity levels (where agreed) as well as the expected additional savings.

Department of Human Services response: The Department already undertakes these assessments as demonstrated by the tables in Appendix 1 of our response.

Summary of entity responses

21. The Department of Human Services’ and the Department of Social Services’ summary responses to the report are provided below. Full responses are at Appendix 1.

Department of Human Services

The department has delivered savings of $1.436 billion against a target of $1.066 billion–a variance of $367.7 million or 34.7% for all compliance budget measures. For the seven measures examined by the ANAO the department delivered savings of $998 million in relation to a target of $788 million, an excess of $210 million or 26.7%.

Since 2012–13, the department has realised total annualised savings from its business as usual (BAU) compliance activity of $2,485.7 million over four years. It has also increased the volume of compliance activity delivered as part of its Compliance Programme by 32%.

The department does not accept the key conclusion in the report that most of the compliance measures examined were not effectively implemented and the expected outcomes were not fully achieved, including savings.

In contrast to the report, the evidence demonstrates the department:

  • exceeded expected outcomes from new measures;
  • was effective in the implementation of the Compliance Programme; and
  • provided clear and accurate reporting on progress of these measures in both public reporting and briefing to Ministers.

Consistent with the evidence provided to the ANAO, the department also cannot agree with Tables 3.2, 4.1, 4.3, 4.4 and 4.6 in the report or the suggestion that Ministers were briefed in an ad hoc manner. Tables that reflect the evidence provided to the ANAO during the audit are attached at Appendix 1.

The department has actively managed all compliance measures in a manner consistent with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The department does not agree with the input based methodology used in the report which does not take into account the requirement to use BAU resources efficiently and effectively to respond to emerging pressures and risks. The department considers that input based activity level targets are not necessarily an appropriate measure of performance. For this reason, the department’s current outcomes approach to measuring the performance of compliance measures is considered appropriate.

The department notes that the ANAO has not made any recommendations which directly address its main conclusions and findings. The Department of Human Services agrees with Recommendation 1, and agrees with qualifications to Recommendation 2, and notes with respect to Recommendation 3 the department already undertakes these assessments as demonstrated by the tables in Appendix 1.

ANAO comments on the Department of Human Services’ response

The evidence and supporting data used in both the ANAO’s analysis and the Department of Human Services’ response are largely the same, with the differences in the tables due primarily to the differing methodologies:

  • The ANAO’s methodology is set out in paragraphs 4.3, 4.12, 4.14 to 4.16 and 4.21, with further detail in Appendix 4 to the report.
  • The Department of Human Services’ response to the ANAO’s methodology is set out in paragraphs 4.5, 4.8 and 4.13.

Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services (the Department) agrees to the first recommendation for which it has responsibility.

The Department will undertake an internal review of the costing model and inputs used to calculate expected savings of compliance measures. The Department will work with DHS to establish a register of assumptions and inputs.

The Department notes the view that the oversight of the achievement of the measures could be improved. The Department is currently working with DHS to review and implement revised arrangements under the Bilateral Management Arrangement between the two departments. This will include considering the most appropriate arrangements for the monitoring of fraud prevention and compliance Budget measures, noting that DHS is a separate Department of State accountable to its Minister for performance, and working arrangements and protocols between DSS and DHS need to reflect this.

1. Background

Introduction

1.1 The Department of Social Services (DSS) is the policy department responsible for income security and support policies and programs, including the Administered appropriations from which income support payments are made. The Department of Human Services (Human Services) is responsible for the development of service delivery policy and administers a range of social, health and other payments and services.

1.2 As part of its ongoing operations, Human Services undertakes compliance activities aimed at protecting the integrity of the government outlays it administers, including for payments and services under the Centrelink program. Human Services’ compliance model (Figure 1.1) shows a continuum of customer attitudes towards compliance and illustrates the strategies the department uses to respond. The model recognises that most people want to provide correct and up-to-date information, with the department’s fraud control processes designed to focus intelligence and investigation activity on the most serious cases of non-compliance rather than on those people making honest mistakes.

Figure 1.1: Human Services compliance model

Human Services compliance model

Source: Human Services.

1.3 Table 1.1 summarises key departmental statistics for Human Services’ Centrelink compliance program for the period 2012–13 to 2015–16.

Table 1.1: Human Services’ Centrelink compliance program activities, costs and staffing levels from 2012–13 to 2015–16

 

2012–13

2013–14

2014–15

2015–16

Compliance activities completeda

866 597

869 082

923 462

987 895

Departmental direct costs ($million)b

$234.8

$232.0

$224.5

$255.3

Direct staffing levelsc

2349

1807

1996

2317

         

Note a: These figures show the compliance activities completed as reported in Human Services’ Annual Reports from 2012–13 to 2015–16. The figures reported are specific to targeted compliance interventions only and do not include activities relating to serious non-compliance and fraud.

Note b: Human Services advised the ANAO that these costs are the direct compliance costs relating to: serious non-compliance; compliance review activities; payment integrity activities; customer-centric activities; debt management; strategic management; project management; and divisional support.

Note c: Full-time equivalent staffing levels as at 30 June in each year.

Source: Human Services documentation.

Fraud prevention and compliance related Budget measures

1.4 From 2012–13 to 2015–16, the Government announced seven Centrelink-related fraud prevention and compliance Budget measures2 to address new and existing fraud and compliance risks affecting the integrity of the social security system.3 As part of these measures, Human Services received $290.5 million in additional departmental funding, and committed to return to the Budget savings totalling $2.1 billion in fiscal balance terms and $1.4 billion in underlying cash balance terms over the relevant measure periods.4 These projected savings are then set out in the Administered expenses of the relevant policy entity.5 Table 1.2 outlines the funding provided to Human Services and the expected savings to be returned to the Budget for the seven compliance measures in the scope of this audit. Further information on the measures is provided at Appendix 2.

Table 1.2: Selected fraud prevention and compliance Budget measures from 2012–13 to 2015–16

Budget measure

Funding provided to Human Servicesa ($million)

Projected gross savings—in fiscal balance terms ($million)

Projected gross savings—in underlying cash terms ($million)

2012–13 Budget

Fraud prevention and compliance—Accelerated real estate review cycle

$13.1

$63.1

$61.0

Fraud prevention and compliance—Increase in compliance review activity

$40.7

$161.5

$110.5

Fraud prevention and compliance—Increased compliance for international risk

$8.3

$100.4

$83.6

Fraud prevention and compliance—Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt

$5.9

$0.0

$20.1

Fraud prevention and compliance—New compliance data sources

$8.9

$65.9

$40.2

2013–14 Budget

Fraud prevention and compliance—Increase compliance for customers with earned income

$8.8

$67.5

$46.9

2015–16 Budget

Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Paymentsb

$204.8

$1663.4

$1075.2

Total funding and gross savings

$290.5

$2121.8

$1437.5

       

Note a: Human Services is responsible for implementing the measures and an immaterial proportion of the funding was allocated to relevant policy entities.

Note b: The audit focussed on two particular initiatives under the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure that had identified savings for 2015–16: the Employment Income Matching initiative and the AUSTRAC initiative. The audit only assessed outcomes for these two initiatives for the 2015–16 financial year.

Source: ANAO analysis of Budget documentation.

1.5 Savings from compliance activities generally arise when a recipient’s circumstances do not match the entitlement rules for a payment or benefit and the compliance activity results in:

  • changes to a payment—either a payment cancellation or a reduction in the payment rate—due to a change to the recipient’s circumstances; and/or
  • a debt being raised against the recipient—for recovery of monies previously paid to which the recipient was not eligible.
Compliance measures announced since the 2015–16 Budget

1.6 In the 2015–16 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Government announced three further social security related compliance measures—one being an extension to the 2015–16 Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure. For these three measures, Human Services received $153 million, with projected net fiscal balance savings of $1.9 billion to be delivered over the forward estimates.

1.7 In July 2016, the Government announced five new welfare integrity initiatives as part of the Coalition’s election commitments. Three of these initiatives build on the 2015–16 Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure. On 19 December 2016, as part of the 2016–17 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Government announced the Better Management of the Social Welfare System measure to deliver on its election commitments. From this measure, Human Services receives $498 million to expand its fraud prevention and debt recovery capability. In return, the Government expects to achieve net savings of $3.7 billion in fiscal balance terms and $2.1 billion in underlying cash terms from 2016–17 to 2019–20.

Administrative arrangements for social security related compliance measures

1.8 The business relationship between DSS and Human Services is governed by a Bilateral Management Arrangement (BMA) between the two departments.6 The BMA Head Agreement is supported by a number of protocols, which outline the agreed processes, frameworks and guidelines to support operational arrangements. The New Work and Changed Business Protocol governs the administrative relationship between DSS and Human Services for delivery of Budget measures.

1.9 Human Services is responsible for the implementation of the compliance program and related Budget measures. For Budget costing purposes, DSS is responsible for income support policy, including payment policies, and for calculating the estimated savings to be realised from the delivery of additional compliance activities.7

Audit approach

1.10 The objective of the audit was to assess Human Services’ and DSS’ management of selected fraud prevention and compliance Budget measures.

1.11 To form a conclusion against the audit objective, the ANAO adopted the following high-level audit criteria:

  • Have sound processes and practices been established to support the design and implementation of specific Budget-funded compliance measures?
  • Is there effective monitoring of the implementation and achievement of the measures?
  • Have expected savings and other benefits from the measures been achieved?

1.12 The audit focussed on seven Centrelink-related compliance measures announced in the relevant Budgets from 2012–13 to 2015–16 (see Appendix 2). In examining the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, the audit focussed on two specific initiatives that had identified savings for 2015–16—that is, the Employment Income Matching initiative and the AUSTRAC initiative. The audit scope covered the 2012–13 to 2015–16 financial years and did not include the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and Election commitment measures announced since the 2015–16 Budget. Further, the audit scope did not examine Human Services’ broader Centrelink compliance program.

1.13 The audit methodology included:

  • interviews with Human Services and DSS staff;
  • interviews with the Department of Finance and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet;
  • examination and analysis of documentation relating to the development and implementation of the seven compliance measures in the scope of this audit; and
  • an analysis of the extent to which expected savings had been monitored, reported on and achieved.

1.14 The performance audit was conducted in accordance with ANAO auditing standards at a cost to the ANAO of approximately $567 000.

2. Designing and planning compliance measures

Areas examined

This chapter examines the processes and practices established to support the design and implementation of the relevant Budget-funded compliance measures.

Conclusion

The Department of Social Services (DSS) used an agreed methodology to calculate the savings expected from the compliance measures and the Department of Human Services (Human Services) developed useful implementation plans to support the delivery of the measures. There are opportunities to improve both the methodology and plans.

Areas for improvement

The ANAO recommends establishing a process to regularly review DSS’ savings methodology for compliance measures, and documenting the evidence underpinning key assumptions in calculating expected savings.

The ANAO also suggests that Human Services includes in the implementation plans for the compliance measures an explanation for how key outcomes would be measured.

Have sound processes been established to support the design and implementation of the compliance measures?

DSS established and used a methodology, agreed with the Department of Finance, to support the design of the compliance measures, including for calculating projected savings. There would be benefit in regularly reviewing this methodology to provide better assurance on the accuracy of the projected savings from compliance measures. In addition, documenting the underpinning evidence for the key assumptions used in calculating the expected savings from the measures would improve transparency and the repeatability of the use of this evidence.

Human Services developed useful project plans for all of the compliance measures. There is scope to include information on how the key outcomes for each compliance measure will be measured. Using these plans consistently over the life of the measure would also assist in maintaining clarity on the expected outcomes and deliverables.

2.1 The policy cases for the measures were developed to address compliance risks identified by Human Services, and government priorities at the time. In broad terms, the measures aimed to address risks and deliver savings to the Budget by:

  • increasing the number of compliance activities for a particular area of risk;
  • addressing gaps in the compliance program; and/or
  • expanding on current capabilities and activities through implementing new processes.

2.2 Human Services advised the ANAO that a range of information informed the development of the compliance measures, including:

  • past experience—in particular, earlier measures informed the development of the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure;
  • data relating to key risk areas from prior compliance work undertaken; and
  • pilot activity undertaken.

Modelling savings estimates for compliance measures

2.3 Compliance reviews are designed to test whether an income support recipient’s payment amount is accurate. Where a recipient’s circumstances have changed or do not meet the entitlement rules, the compliance review can result in a change to the recipient’s payment. This change can be a cancellation of payment or a variation to the fortnightly payment amount and may relate to a historical or current pay period, or both. A debt is raised where an income support recipient has received payment in excess of their entitlement.

2.4 Relevant policy entities were responsible for calculating expected savings for the compliance measures during the Budget process, using key assumptions, generally supplied by Human Services, and a methodology agreed with the Department of Finance.8

Key compliance activity assumptions

2.5 Calculating the expected savings for the measures is dependent upon key assumptions made about the relevant compliance activity.9 Human Services developed the key assumptions for the majority of compliance measures in the audit scope.10 These assumptions included:

  • the number of compliance reviews to be conducted;
  • the percentage of reviews expected to result in a cancellation, and the average fortnightly dollar value of cancellations;
  • the percentage of reviews expected to result in a downward variation to the fortnightly payment rate, and the average dollar value of the variation; and
  • the percentage of reviews expected to result in a debt being raised, and the average dollar value of the debt.

2.6 Human Services and DSS advised the ANAO that the assumptions for the compliance measures were based on the analysis of historical data; however, with a few exceptions, neither department was able to provide the underpinning evidence relating to the basis of the key assumptions.11

2.7 There would be merit in Human Services and DSS setting out the basis for the assumptions used in these calculations and maintaining a register of such assumptions (to provide a record of their source). Documenting the evidence underpinning these assumptions would aid transparency and repeatability, and should also reduce the time taken to prepare savings estimates. It would also help to align expected savings calculations with outcomes realised from similar recent compliance activities. This record could include the last date of review, the owner of the assumption and, where the measure is an extension of a previous measure, the reasons for any changes to previous assumptions.

Expected savings over the forward estimates

2.8 The compliance activity assumptions (see paragraph 2.5) are used by DSS to calculate the expected savings over the forward estimates from: fortnightly payment reductions; debts raised; and debts that will be recovered. The methodology used by DSS determines both the fiscal balance and underlying cash savings, with the total fiscal balance savings derived from summing the calculated payment reductions and debts raised, and the total underlying cash savings derived from summing the calculated payment reductions and debts recovered.12

2.9 There are a number of complexities in calculating expected savings to be generated from compliance activities. Key issues can include13:

  • diminishing rates of return over time from some compliance activities;
  • differences in estimating savings achieved from fortnightly payment reductions;
  • time lags in collecting debts that have been raised; and
  • differences between the debt amounts initially assessed and the amounts that are actually collected.14

2.10 In calculating savings from payment reductions, DSS assumed that the incorrect payment would have continued for a defined number of fortnights into the future, had the compliance review not been conducted. The number of fortnights used by DSS to calculate future payment reductions differs by payment. DSS also applied indexation to payment reductions, and calculated the expected overall savings based on the measure’s implementation date.15 Savings from payment reductions were apportioned between the year in which the planned compliance activity would take place and the following year/s. This is to account for compliance activities being undertaken at different times throughout a given year. In calculating the value of debts expected to be recovered, DSS excluded a proportion—which varies by payment type—of the debt raised as ‘doubtful debt’ that will not be recoverable over the measure period. The recoverable debt amount was then apportioned over the relevant forward estimates’ period.

2.11 DSS advised the ANAO that the methodology and key inputs used to calculate expected savings for the compliance measures were developed ‘around eight to ten years ago’ in consultation with actuaries. DSS was unable to provide the ANAO with any documentation relating to the development of the methodology or relevant inputs, and DSS further advised the ANAO that:

Notwithstanding that the documentation is not available, the methodology has been agreed with the Department of Finance, and has been in place since the time the agreement was reached.

The basis for calculating the projection of variations was based on the duration of debts detected by the Random Sample [Survey] and the overall debt levels, whilst the recovery projections were based on the amounts recovered for debts raised in a given year. The methodology is monitored for exceptions regularly and has remained consistent over time. As our overall monitoring of Social Security debt has not shown major exceptions over the past years we are satisfied that the cancellation/variation projection methodology also remains sound.

2.12 In addition, DSS advised the ANAO that although the overall methodology has not had a major review for some time, individual assumptions/inputs for any new measures are reviewed with the Department of Finance, including for the measures in the scope of this audit.

2.13 However, the ANAO was not provided with documentation relating to reviews of the two key inputs into DSS’ methodology—which vary by payment type:

  1. the estimated number of fortnights that a particular type of payment may have continued for, had the compliance review not been conducted; and
  2. the estimated proportion of debt recovered over four years for particular payments.

    2.14 There would be merit in DSS establishing a process to regularly review its model to provide better assurance on the relevancy of the key inputs used to calculate expected savings for compliance measures.

    Recommendation No.1

    2.15 That in developing Budget-related compliance measures:

    1. the Department of Social Services establishes a process to regularly review the inputs used to calculate expected savings for Budget-related compliance measures; and
    2. the Department of Social Services and the Department of Human Services document the basis for assumptions and inputs used, including related data sources.

    Department of Human Services response: Agreed.

    2.16 The department will work with the Department of Social Services to document the underlying evidence that support assumptions and inputs used to develop new compliance budget measures.

    Department of Social Services response: Agreed.

    2.17 DSS will undertake an internal review of the costing model used to calculate expected savings of compliance measures, including reviewing the inputs and assumptions used. DSS will work with the DHS to establish a register of assumptions and inputs used in costings and will ensure that each assumption is reviewed at least once every three years to ensure they remain relevant.

    Project plans for compliance measures

    2.18 Human Services developed project plans for all of the compliance measures within the scope of this audit. These project plans aim to provide a single source of reference for the project, and to support its implementation and management.

    2.19 The ANAO’s analysis indicates that:

    • the project plans for each of the measures were mostly consistent with the originating policy case;
    • the project plans provided a useful summary of the purpose of the measure; and
    • the majority of project plans contained key information, including key outcomes and expected benefits such as targets for compliance activities and savings to be achieved each year, to support the implementation of the measures.16

    2.20 The ANAO also identified some shortcomings with the information included in the project plans for some of the measures, as discussed below.

    2.21 The project plans did not provide a clear explanation of the methodology Human Services intended to use to monitor the achievement of savings from the measures. Including an explanation of how key outcomes would be measured—such as the methodology to be used to calculate savings for a measure—would be beneficial to help ensure that the approach to measuring outcomes was consistent and clear (see also paragraphs 3.8 to 3.13).

    2.22 The savings targets identified in project plans for the New compliance data sources and Increase in compliance review activity measures were for the net savings targets only, rather than the gross or total savings target. In this regard, the savings targets in these plans did not account for Human Services’ costs of delivering the measures. For the Increased compliance for international risk measure, the project plan cited a lower target number of review activities (26 300 reviews) compared to the target outlined in the policy case agreed to by government (33 800 reviews).

    2.23 While the purpose of the project plan was to be a single source of reference to support a measure’s management, the project plans were not always actively used over the life of the measures. For example, during the early implementation phase for the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure, project documentation identified some departmental confusion as to the correct savings target for the measure, despite the relevant project plan setting out the correct savings target. Further, the evaluation report for the Accelerated real estate review cycle measure outlined the need to identify a key risk early; however, this risk had already been set out in the relevant project plan. Using the project plans to inform the ongoing implementation of the measures would also provide relevant project teams with clarity around expected outcomes and deliverables.

    3. Monitoring and reporting on compliance measures

    Areas examined

    This chapter examines the effectiveness of the Department of Human Services’ (Human Services’) and the Department of Social Services’ (DSS’) arrangements for monitoring and reporting on compliance measures.

    Conclusion

    The monitoring and oversight arrangements for the compliance measures, set out under the Bilateral Management Arrangement between DSS and Human Services, have not been effective as they were not followed. DSS as the relevant policy entity did not take responsibility for monitoring outcomes, including impacts and actual savings, achieved from the measures.

    Human Services’ internal and external monitoring and reporting for compliance measures could be improved. While Human Services has well-established monitoring and reporting arrangements, these mechanisms did not consistently provide clear and accurate advice on whether the compliance measures were achieving the desired outcomes, including savings and planned levels of activity.

    Areas for improvement

    The ANAO has recommended that Human Services consistently track and report key outcomes achieved from compliance measures as part of its established project monitoring arrangements, and develops and implements a method to estimate both its actual costs and debt recoveries from compliance measures.

    The ANAO has also suggested that Human Services adopt a methodology consistent with the approach used in Budget processes to calculate the actual savings achieved for compliance measures.

    Were the monitoring and oversight arrangements in place between Human Services and the Department of Social Services effective?

    Monitoring and oversight arrangements in place between Human Services and DSS for the compliance measures were not effective. Requirements set out under the Bilateral Management Arrangement between the two entities were not met. In addition, DSS as the relevant policy entity did not take responsibility for monitoring the achievements of the measures.

    3.1 During the course of the audit, DSS and Human Services commenced a broad review of the Bilateral Management Arrangement (BMA). Under the BMA in place at the time of the audit, arrangements for undertaking new work—including Budget measures—are set out in the New Work and Changed Business Protocol. These arrangements include the following in relation to the delivery of Budget measures:

    Where projects are established to implement Budget Measures or New Work in either department, the project management team responsible for delivery is required to report progress on the delivery of the Budget Measure or New Work to the other department via their project-based communications and stakeholder engagement plan.

    Project teams are required to report progress toward implementation of Budget Measures or New Work until such time as the project transitions to Business as Usual (BAU) and its monitoring for assurance to executives and government is encompassed under the BMA governance and reporting arrangements.

    3.2 For each of the compliance measures, Human Services outlined their proposed stakeholder engagement in Stakeholder Engagement and Communication Plans or (where separate plans were not developed) in the relevant Project Management Plans. The proposed approach to stakeholder engagement with policy entities for the compliance measures was not consistent across the compliance measures:

    • for three out of the seven plans, the relevant policy entities were not identified as stakeholders; and
    • for the four plans that did include policy entities, the communication channels and frequency of communications with the relevant policy entities varied between projects, from emails and phone calls as required to monthly project status reports.

    3.3 Human Services was unable to provide any evidence confirming that its plans to engage with the identified policy entities had been implemented, as set out in its Stakeholder Engagement and Communications Plans or Project Management Plans, where relevant.

    3.4 Separately, as part of its regular reporting to policy entities, Human Services provided quarterly Agency Reports throughout the measure periods. These reports set out information on the outcome of fraud and compliance activities for Human Services’ compliance program as a whole; however, the progress and achievements realised (to date) of individual measures was not reported.

    3.5 Until the ANAO’s audit, DSS and Human Services had not cooperated to calculate the actual savings realised from the measures (actual savings achieved are discussed in Chapter 4). As the policy entity responsible for the Administered outlays against which the savings are accrued, DSS should have taken more responsibility for monitoring expected achievements from the measures.

    Did Human Services effectively monitor savings and expenses associated with compliance measures?

    Human Services’ monitoring of savings and expenses associated with compliance measures could be improved. In Human Services’ advice to its Minister on implementation progress, the department used a methodology that did not provide reliable advice on the (gross fiscal balance) savings achieved from the measures. Human Services also does not have the systems or processes in place to provide advice on the underlying cash savings realised, including debts recovered from the majority of the compliance measures—a key outcome expected from the measures.

    Human Services’ approach to monitoring compliance measure expenses considers whether the benefits outweigh the costs of monitoring. Developing and implementing a method to estimate the costs of compliance measures would allow Human Services to better inform its external reporting and evaluations of its compliance activities.

    Monitoring savings achieved from compliance measures

    3.6 For the measures examined in this audit, the relevant Government decisions set out the expected savings to be delivered by the measures in both fiscal balance and underlying cash balance terms.17 Savings from the compliance measures were expected to derive from the following:

    • fortnightly payment reductions—that is, savings from compliance and review activities that result in a reduction to, or cancellation of, a payment rate (expressed as both expected fiscal balance and underlying cash balance savings);
    • debts raised—that is, liabilities owing to the Government from compliance review or investigation activities (expressed as expected fiscal balance savings); and
    • debts recovered (expressed as expected underlying cash balance savings).18
    Fortnightly reductions and debts raised

    3.7 In estimating the gross fiscal balance savings achieved from the measures, Human Services summed the savings from fortnightly payment reductions and the savings attributed from debts raised, consistent with the methodology outlined in paragraph 2.8. Human Services attributed compliance savings (from fortnightly payment reductions and debts raised) to individual compliance measures through the use of pre-defined business rules that allow data relating to specific measure activities to be extracted from its systems.

    3.8 Human Services used two methods to determine estimates of savings achieved from fortnightly payment reductions:

    1. multiplying fortnightly payment reductions by a factor of 26, to ‘annualise’ the fortnightly payment reduction amount; or
    2. using savings calculators, provided by the relevant policy entities, chiefly DSS.19

      3.9 The first methodology was used by Human Services to advise its Minister on savings achieved from the measures.20 However, there are limitations on the accuracy of this methodology, as any savings from payment reductions are fully attributed to the year in which the compliance activity took place, rather than being apportioned across future years. As such, any savings from payment reductions are calculated as having a full year impact, irrespective of whether the activity may have occurred in the beginning or end of a given financial year—an approach inconsistent with the methodology used by DSS in the Budget process (see paragraph 2.10).

      3.10 This approach could lead to incorrect assessments being made—including by the Minister for Human Services—of progress and achievements from the compliance measures. For example, in June 2016, in a report to its Minister, Human Services advised that:

      1. the Accelerated real estate review cycle measure achieved $41.7 million in gross fiscal balance savings—31 per cent or $9.8 million above DSS calculations for the same period; and
      2. the Increased compliance for international risk measure achieved $37.7 million gross fiscal balance savings—34 per cent or $19.8 million below DSS calculations for the same period.

        3.11 The second methodology outlined in paragraph 3.8(b) is generally used to provide the relevant project team with an indication of progress against the relevant savings targets for the measures. Human Services advised the ANAO that in using these savings calculators, Human Services can estimate the savings achieved by the measures using a methodology aligned to that used by DSS in the Budget costing process. Human Services also advised that the savings estimations using this methodology provide a ‘useful indicative view’ of measure performance; however, Human Services considers the savings estimations are not appropriate for external reporting as, according to Human Services, DSS is responsible for calculating actual savings achieved from the measures.

        3.12 In September 2016, during the course of the audit, DSS separately calculated the savings achieved from the compliance measures. The methodology used by DSS was aligned to the methodology used to determine projected savings, and distributed savings from any fortnightly reductions across the forward financial years, based on relevant implementation dates and different payment factors. The ANAO’s analysis indicates that the savings calculations derived by Human Services from the use of the policy entities’ savings calculators (the second methodology) were more reliable and aligned to the calculations supplied by DSS, than those derived from ‘annualising’ the savings (the first methodology).

        3.13 For more reliable monitoring and reporting of actual savings achieved from compliance measures, and in cooperation with DSS, Human Services should use both a consistent approach throughout the measure reporting period, as well as use the methodology agreed during the Budget process, particularly in reporting to its Minister.

        Debts recovered

        3.14 One of the key indicators of the success of a measure is the extent to which Human Services achieves the projected debt recovery targets—as reflected in the Government’s targets for underlying cash savings for the compliance measures.21

        3.15 However, for the majority of measures, Human Services did not monitor its progress against the Government’s underlying cash savings targets during the period 2012–13 to 2015–16.22

        3.16 Human Services advised the ANAO that the department did not have mechanisms in place to report the total value of debts recovered by measure. However, debts recovered could be measured via separate tracking, or they could be modelled using more contemporary or actual performance estimates (for example, through using average debt recovery rates for the relevant financial year), whichever is the most cost-effective.

        Monitoring expenses incurred on compliance measures

        3.17 As part of the Budget process for the 2012–13 compliance measures, Human Services was required to report annually to Government on its actual expenditure for all fraud and compliance programs, including individual measures, in the Minister for Human Services’ Strategic Fraud and Non-Compliance (SFNC) Performance Report.23

        3.18 Despite these reporting requirements and the department’s own key performance indicators (KPIs)—which include assessing whether the measures are delivered ‘on budget’ (see paragraph 3.31)—the department’s actual expenses for implementing the 2012–13 and 2013–14 compliance measures were not tracked or reported as they were classified by Human Services as ‘financially simplified’ projects.24 For the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, only a proportion of the measure’s funding was tracked; funding relating to its operational work and corporate overheads was not accounted for. In this regard, from the 2015–16 financial year appropriation of $71.4 million, Human Services monitored and reported (both internally and externally) against its project management allocation of $27.3 million (38 per cent of the measure’s Budget appropriation for that year).

        3.19 Although Human Services did not track the compliance expenses or effort spent on the measures, the department provided the ANAO with some information relating to the expenses for four of the 2012–13 and 2013–14 compliance measures, as outlined in Table 3.1. Note, Human Services’ attribution of expenses and activities to the compliance measures differs to the ANAO’s attribution as outlined in Chapter 4.

        Table 3.1: Human Services’ estimated expenses for four 2012–13 and 2013–14 compliance measures

         

        2012–13 ($)

        2013–14 ($)

        2014–15 ($)

        2015–16 ($)

        Total ($)

        Increase in compliance review activity

        Budgeted expensea

        8 774 500

        8 774 500

        4 387 300

         

        21 936 300

        Actual expenseb,c

        8 282 307

        9 586 945

        10 103 045

         

        27 972 297

        Difference

        492 193

        (812 445)

        (5 715 745)

         

        ( 6 035 997)

        Increased compliance for international risk

        Budgeted expensea

        1 656 300

        456 000

        549 300

        463 100

        3 124 700

        Actual expenseb

        6 149 174

        2 610 567

        560 811

        4 586d

        9 325 138

        Difference

        (4 492 874)

        (2 154 567)

        (11 511)

        458 514

        (6 200 438)

        Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt

        Budgeted expense

        1 759 961

        1 715 694

        1 726 776

        1 743 586

        6 946 017

        Actual expense

        1 333 841

        1 512 038

        1 957 359

        1 273 300

        6 076 538

        Difference

        426 120

        203 656

        (230 583)

        470 286

        869 479

        Increase compliance for customers with earned income

        Budgeted expensea

         

        4 723 370

         

         

        4 723 370

        Actual expenseb,e

         

        3 289 444

         

         

        3 289 444

        Difference

         

        1 433 926

         

         

        1 433 926

        Total difference between budgeted and actual expenses

        (9 933 030)

                     

        Note a: Human Services advised the ANAO that the ‘Budgeted expense’ figures outlined differ from the total departmental funding allocated to the department through the Budget process. Human Services advised the ‘Budget expense’ figures includes only the funding internally allocated to the particular business area undertaking the compliance activities for these measures. The remainder of the departmental funding allocated to Human Services through the Budget process is internally allocated to other business areas within the department to cover the cost of corporate overheads and other flow on activities (such as appeals or debt management). These business areas do not distinguish between the expenses associated with Budget measure activity and the expenses associated with business-as-usual activity.

        Note b: Human Services advised that the ‘Actual expense’ data relates only to the direct compliance activity expenses. The ‘Actual expense’ data does not include expenses for corporate overheads or other flow-on activities (such as appeals or debt management) as the responsible business areas do not distinguish between the expenses associated with Budget measure activity and the expenses associated with business-as-usual activity.

        Note c: Human Services advised the ANAO that because the Increase in compliance review activity measure activity is an increase on yearly compliance activity, expenses for the measure could be interpreted as the difference between the 2011–12 (pre-measure) costs of $8.98 million and the total activity expenses for the 2012–13 to 2014–15 years.

        Note d: ‘Actual expense’ as at 2 June 2016. Human Services was unable to provide data for the full 2015–16 financial year.

        Note e: Human Services advised the ANAO that because the Increase compliance for customers with earned income measure activity is an increase on yearly compliance activity, expenses for the measure could be interpreted as the difference between the 2012–13 (pre-measure) costs of $27.89 million and the total activity expenses for 2013–14.

        Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

        3.20 As shown in Table 3.1, for the four compliance measures for which Human Services provided indicative expenditure, the department’s estimated total actual expenses exceeded the budgeted expenses by $9.9 million (or 27 per cent). For example, for the Increased compliance for international risk measure the department allocated significantly more staff to implement the measures than were estimated during its original planning. Human Services advised the ANAO that in implementing these measures, it took a number of actions including: approved overtime for current staff; undertook temporary recruitment internal to the department; and/or realigned compliance staff from other activities. In this regard, the actual costs of these measures were significantly greater than originally estimated.

        3.21 Establishing a practical and cost-effective mechanism to separately track or estimate the actual cost of some measures (for example, through using the average cost of the relevant compliance activity that is the focus of a measure or the level of full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing25) would:

        • provide enhanced assurance when reporting on the achievements of measures against the department’s KPIs (see discussion from paragraph 3.31);
        • provide a more complete and accurate summary of the performance of a measure, for example to calculate the net savings realised; and
        • enable the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of those compliance activities to be evaluated26, including to inform the development of new measures.

        Has Human Services’ internal monitoring and reporting on the compliance measures been effective?

        Human Services has well-developed project monitoring mechanisms for reporting to its Executive. However, this monitoring system relies on accurate and consistent reporting by the responsible business areas. In this regard, the regular internal reporting on the progress of the measures has not provided a consistent and reliable indication of whether key performance outcomes, including expected savings and planned levels of activity, were on track, nor whether key risks were being effectively managed.

        Arrangements for monitoring compliance measures

        3.22 Human Services’ monitoring of its compliance measures includes weekly or fortnightly reporting at the project level, as well as monthly reporting to its departmental Executive. Under Human Services’ Programme and Project Management Framework, monthly Project Status Reports (PSRs) are to be completed for all programs and projects. The aim of these reports is to provide the Project Board27 and other team members with up-to-date information on project risks, issues, scope, budget, schedule, tasks and activities delivered and forecasted into the future. PSRs had been completed for each compliance measure since the outset.

        3.23 Figure 3.1 shows the reporting structure for compliance measures, and how the PSRs contribute to broader reporting arrangements within the department.

        Figure 3.1: Human Services’ internal reporting structure for compliance measures

        Human Services’ internal reporting structure for compliance measures

        Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services documentation.

        3.24 Human Services uses departmental project tolerances to report project performance within PSRs using a traffic light rating system.28 Figure 3.2 shows the department’s project tolerances for the overall project status in place during the implementation of the measures.

        Figure 3.2: Human Services’ project tolerances for overall project statusa

        Human Services’ project tolerances for overall project status

        Note a: These tolerances were outlined in Human Services’ Project Management Framework in place at the time of the audit and the implementation periods for measures in the scope of this audit (Human Services’ Project Management Framework was updated in July 2016).

        Source: Human Services documentation.

        3.25 The ANAO reviewed a sample of 22 PSRs for the compliance measures29 and reviewed the overall project status contained in these reports compared to the achievement of key outcomes—savings30 and activity levels (see Table 3.2). The ANAO identified:

        • the overall project status reported at the end of each financial year did not always reflect the department’s overall project status tolerance levels in place at the time; and
        • there were inconsistencies in the information reported, both within and across measures. In particular, key outcomes—number of activities completed and savings achieved—were not consistently reported.

        Table 3.2: Comparison between Human Services’ assessment of activity level and savings achievements and the reported overall status in the June Project Status Reports

        Comparison between Human Services’ assessment of activity level and savings achievements and the reported overall status in the June Project Status Reports

        Note a: Where achievements were not reported in the PSRs, other Human Services documentation, including weekly project reports, were used to assess the achievement.

        Note b: Where Human Services had assessed the measure was in the ‘close phase’ of the project management framework, the overall status against project tolerance was not stated; instead the PSR status was ‘closing’.

        Note c: The last PSR for the Increase in compliance review activity measure was completed in September 2014 because the project was closed in October 2014. The closure of this measure is discussed further in paragraph 4.36.

        Note d: For the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure, Human Services did not report through the PSR on the number of activities undertaken; however, Human Services’ information shows that over the measure period the four year target was achieved (see Appendix 3, Table A.9 and Table A.10 ).

        Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services documentation and data.

        3.26 The two key outcomes for the majority of the measures were targets for savings and activity levels. In the sample of reports reviewed, the ANAO identified six reports where the overall project status was ‘green’ even though the savings target (as determined by Human Services) had not been achieved. For one of these reports, the activity level target had also not been met.

        3.27 Based on Human Services’ documentation, the Increased compliance for international risk measure did not achieve its savings target for any of the four years of the measure; however, its overall PSR status remained ‘green’ from July 2012 until January 2016, when the status turned to ‘amber’.

        3.28 The Accelerated real estate review cycle measure’s overall PSR status remained ‘green’ from July 2012 until January 2015, when the status changed to ‘amber’. It did not achieve its savings target for any of the first three financial years of the measure. In addition, there were two other significant issues that affected implementation of this measure: the closure of the Australian Valuation Office (AVO) in 201431; and the introduction of a new risk-based real estate model by Human Services in July 2014, which superseded the Accelerated real estate review cycle measure. There was some commentary about these issues in the PSRs during 2014. Human Services advised the ANAO that ‘the project reported green through to December 2014 on the basis the required volume of activity could still be delivered in the second half of the financial year.’ Human Services’ project tolerance descriptions for a project’s overall status (see Figure 3.2) are that where a project’s implementation is problematic, its overall status should be reported as ‘amber’ or ‘red’.

        3.29 Human Services advised the ANAO that: the PSR template in use at this time indicated that where a project was on track, there was no requirement to report on specific deliverables; three or more criteria with a changed status were required to change the overall status of the project; and this indicates that partial achievement is an acceptable justification to report a status of ‘green’. Human Services further advised that the PSRs for the measures clearly stated that where there was an underachievement of savings, the over achievement of other measures within the overall suite of measures offset this discrepancy.

        3.30 In reporting on compliance measures through the PSRs, Human Services should consistently report on all key performance targets and include performance against these key targets in assessing a project’s overall status. This would provide the department’s Executive with a more reliable snapshot of progress, as well as allow the PSRs to serve as a more accurate and accountable basis for determining achievements of the measures—including against the department’s public KPIs.

        Has Human Services’ external reporting on the outcomes of the compliance measures been accurate and timely?

        While Human Services has documented a process for its public reporting against its KPIs, the underlying systems and processes require greater maturity to support an accurate assessment. In this context, it is uncertain whether Human Services’ public reporting against its KPI is accurate.

        Human Services’ reporting to its Minister has been ad hoc. Following the lapsing of the previously required reporting arrangements due to the change of government in September 2013, Human Services did not report to Government on the 2012–13 measures. Human Services also did not report annually to the Department of Finance on the outcomes realised, as it committed to do in place of reporting to Government.

        Public reporting against key performance indicators

        3.31 Human Services reported publicly on the performance of the compliance measures through two KPIs, as outlined in successive Human Services Portfolio Budget Statements since 2012–13:

        • Fraud Prevention and Compliance Budget measures: Key initiatives delivered within timeframes and on budget and outcomes are achieved (2012–13 to 2014–15); and
        • Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments Budget measure: Key initiatives delivered as agreed within timeframes and on budget (2015–16 and 2016–17).

        3.32 The target for both KPIs was ‘Achieved’, with results reported in Human Services’ Annual Reports. Table 3.3 outlines Human Services’ reported achievements against the performance targets for both KPIs from 2012–13 to 2015–16.

        Table 3.3: Human Services’ assessment against its public key performance indicators for compliance measures from 2012–13 to 2015–16

        Financial Year

        Fraud Prevention and Compliance Budget measures

        Key initiatives delivered within timeframes and on budget and outcomes are achieved a

        Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments Budget measure

        Key initiatives delivered as agreed within timeframes and on budget a

         

        Target

        Actual

        Targetb

        Actual

        2012–13

        Achieved

        Achieved

         

         

        2013–14

        Achieved

        Achieved

         

         

        2014–15

        Achieved

        Achieved

         

         

        2015–16

         

         

        Achieved

        Achieved

                 

        Note a: Human Services’ Portfolio Budget Statements from 2012–13 to 2015–16 note that ‘the list of key initiatives is determined by government priorities each financial year’.

        Note b: This performance measure has a target of ‘achieved’ until 2017–18, as outlined in Human Services’ 2016–17 Portfolio Budget Statements.

        Source: Human Services documentation.

        3.33 Accurate reporting on its public KPIs for compliance Budget measures involves Human Services:

        1. establishing a reliable mechanism to support this reporting requirement;
        2. defining the key initiatives (Budget measures) that contribute to the KPIs; and
        3. assessing whether the relevant key measures were delivered within the agreed timeframes, according to the agreed budget, and whether expected outcomes were achieved.
          Establishing a mechanism for public reporting

          3.34 Human Services has established a process for the department’s public KPI reporting. The methodology, calculation and reporting procedures for the public KPIs are formally approved by Human Services’ Executive at the commencement of the financial year and documented in KPI Measure Records. Human Services advised the ANAO that these KPI Measure Records are reviewed on a quarterly basis. Internally, the progress against relevant targets is reported quarterly to Human Services’ Executive through the Strategic Progress Report.

          3.35 For the public KPIs listed in Table 3.3, Human Services’ preparation of the Strategic Progress Reports for its Executive relied on the quarterly results and commentary from the compliance measure’s most recent PSR. However, as set out in Table 3.2, the ANAO’s analysis indicates that the overall project status reported in some of these PSRs is not always accurate or reliable. Further, the ANAO’s analysis identified that for the Employment Income Matching initiative under the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, there was a different overall project status recorded in the Strategic Progress Reports and the PSRs. The second to fourth quarter PSRs recorded the overall project status as ‘amber’, yet reporting for the Strategic Progress Reports during the same period showed the overall project status as ‘green’.

          Defining relevant ‘key initiatives’

          3.36 It is not clear which ‘Fraud Prevention and Compliance’ measures were included in the department’s public reporting against the KPI from 2012–13 to 2014–1532:

          • Human Services was unable to advise the ANAO which compliance measures were included in its reporting against the KPI for the 2012–13 and 2013–14 financial years.
          • In 2014–15, the number of compliance measures included in Human Services’ internal quarterly reporting against the KPI varied throughout the financial year, as the department did not define which compliance measures were to be included.
          • The 2014–15 Strategic Progress Report for the fourth quarter aggregated the result reported for three measures, whereas Human Services advised the ANAO that nine compliance measures contributed to the performance indicator for that quarter.

          3.37 Additionally, for Human Services’ reporting against the KPI for the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, ANAO analysis showed that the 2015–16 Strategic Progress Reports included two additional initiatives: the 2012–13 Improve billing practices within public hospitals measure (included in the first quarter) and Increased recovery of high value customer debt (included in the first and second quarters). These two compliance measures were not included in the KPI Measure Records for the 2015–16 KPI and were individual measures separate to the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure.

          Assessing whether timeframes, budget and outcomes were achieved

          3.38 As part of its broader project monitoring arrangements, Human Services has established mechanisms for regular reporting on implementation progress, including key timing/milestones for relevant measures. However, these mechanisms are also reliant on the quality and consistency of the reporting of key deliverables and outcomes in the PSRs. As Table 3.2 indicates, this PSR reporting has not been consistent over the relevant periods for the measures.

          3.39 As discussed at paragraph 3.18, Human Services does not monitor or report on the costs of ‘financially simplified’ compliance measures, and does not monitor the operational compliance costs relating to the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure. In the absence of tracking its own costs, it is not clear how Human Services determined that the measures were ‘on budget’, as publicly reported in Human Services’ 2012–13 to 2015–16 Annual Reports.

          3.40 Human Services advised the ANAO that, although individual costs were not tracked for the compliance measures, the compliance division did not exceed its overall internal budget from 2012–13 to 2015–16. Using the overall divisional budget (which includes Human Services’ business-as-usual funding) as a basis for determining whether individual measures were ‘on budget’ has limitations, as it cannot demonstrate whether the funds provided for individual measures were expended as planned.

          3.41 As shown in Table 3.3, Human Services’ public reporting in its Annual Reports from 2012–13 to 2015–16 show that the relevant KPIs had been ‘achieved’. In Human Services’ reporting against its single KPI from 2012–13 to 2014–15, Human Services aggregated the department’s internal calculations of the gross fiscal balance savings achieved for all the compliance measures included in the KPI33, but did not track its debt recovery achievements (underlying cash savings) for the relevant measures. Similarly, the debt recovery achievements were not tracked for the 2015–16 KPI.

          3.42 Human Services’ public reporting of ‘achieved’ was also assessed in isolation of the department’s commitment that activities for certain measures would be additional to the department’s business-as-usual activities (see paragraphs 4.2 to 4.10).

          3.43 Overall, there is no clarity and transparency in Human Services’ public reporting on the performance of the compliance measures from 2012–13 to 2015–16. While the department has documented a process for its public reporting against its KPIs, the underlying systems and processes require greater maturity to support an accurate assessment to be made.

          Reporting back to Government

          3.44 The Minister for Human Services has responsibility for the delivery of, and reporting on, fraud and compliance activities to the Government. The stakeholder engagement and communication plans for five of the seven compliance measures noted that the Minister would be provided with quarterly reports on the progress of the measures—including information on the achievement of goals and delivery of benefits.

          3.45 The ANAO’s analysis shows that Human Services’ advice to its Minister on the implementation and achievement of the compliance measures had been ad hoc and not consistent with the stakeholder engagement and communication plans developed at those times. Towards the end of 2015, following the early implementation stage of the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure in 2015–16, the department provided its Minister with more information than in previous years.

          3.46 During the course of the audit, Human Services developed a report on compliance and debt activity within the department, with a plan for this report to be submitted to the Minister on a monthly basis. The first report was provided to the Minister in early May 2016.34 The report provides information on the proportion of targeted activities completed and estimated gross fiscal savings achieved35 (current financial year and the whole period of the measure) for nine selected compliance measures, five within the scope of this audit.36

          Strategic Fraud and Non-Compliance Performance Report

          3.47 As part of the 2012–13 Budget, Human Services was required to report annually to the Government on the success of the 2012–13 measures37, including savings realised, through the SFNC Performance Report.38

          3.48 Following the change of government (in September 2013) Human Services advised the ANAO that the SFNC submission and performance report did not continue as these reporting mechanisms were an initiative of the previous government. Consequently, the department completed its last SFNC report in 2011–12.

          3.49 Following a change of government, the Minister for Human Services would have had to seek authority for the SFNC performance report to continue. In these circumstances, the ANAO would have expected that Human Services would have provided advice to its Minister outlining the earlier reporting requirements, and seeking the Minister’s views on whether to continue with the requirements—this did not occur.

          3.50 Instead, in March 2014, Human Services’ Executive decided not to continue with the SFNC submission and the Strategic Partnership Interdepartmental Committee which oversighted that process. The department advised relevant policy entities39 of its decision, and in its place the department committed to continue to report to the Department of Finance on the performance of the compliance measures.

          3.51 Since the 2012–13 Budget, Human Services had not reported to either the Government or the Department of Finance on its performance and relative achievements in implementing the compliance measures.40

          Recommendation No.2

          3.52 That the Department of Human Services:

          1. in consultation with the Department of Social Services, develops and implements a method to estimate and monitor the amount of debt recovered from compliance measures;
          2. consistently reports internally on its progress and achievements for compliance measures against key performance targets and outcomes; and
          3. develops and implements a method to estimate the costs of compliance measures, to provide improved assurance over its external reporting, and to better inform evaluations of its compliance activities.

          Department of Human Services response: Agreed with qualifications.

          3.53 The department recognises that there are opportunities for improving monitoring and reporting arrangements for its compliance measures. Recommendations 2(a) and (c) are considered long term goals that will be considered as part of the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation Programme, which will deliver enhanced capability. These system improvements are expected to provide the department with better management information to support improved program management and monitoring.

          Department of Social Services comment: DSS will work with DHS to develop and implement a method to estimate and monitor the amount of debt recovered from compliance measures.

          4. Achieving compliance measure outcomes

          Areas examined

          This chapter examines whether the Department of Human Services (Human Services) has achieved the expected savings and other outcomes from the compliance measures, including whether the measures were evaluated.

          Conclusion

          Achievements against the expected outcomes from the measures were mixed and the majority of the compliance measures examined did not fully achieve their expected outcomes, including savings and addressing the risks to payment integrity, as agreed. While Human Services has established processes for undertaking evaluation of compliance measures, some improvements could be made.

          Areas for improvement

          The ANAO has recommended Human Services improve its methodology for assessing outcomes from compliance measures.

          The ANAO has also suggested some areas to build on Human Services’ established approach to post implementation reviews and evaluation.

          Have the expected savings and other outcomes been realised?

          The savings and other outcomes—including addressing risks to payment and business integrity—expected from the compliance measures have not been fully realised. Achievements against the expected levels of compliance activities, including business-as-usual activity agreed in the Budget, were mixed with four of the measures not achieving expected activity levels. The ANAO’s analysis indicated that the delivery against the expected savings was also mixed—four of the measures did not achieve savings targets. Where achievements are likely to be significantly lower than commitments, the relevant minister should be promptly advised, to allow for a timely decision on whether the continued implementation of the relevant measure is the most efficient and effective use of public resources in the circumstances.

          4.1 In broad terms, the policy cases for the measures examined in this audit were developed to address compliance risks identified by Human Services, and government priorities at the time. The measures aimed to address risks and deliver savings (both in fiscal and underlying cash terms41) to the Budget by:

          • increasing the number of compliance activities for a particular area of risk;
          • addressing gaps in the compliance program; and/or
          • expanding on current capabilities and activities through implementing new processes.

          Achievement of compliance measure activities and expected business-as-usual activities

          4.2 Selected compliance measures provided funding to Human Services to increase the quantum of its existing compliance activities, as a means to better address, or mitigate, identified risks to payment integrity. In order to achieve the desired level of risk mitigation (and realise the associated Budget savings) the relevant measure activities, agreed by Government during the Budget process, were expected to be additional to the existing activity underway prior to the implementation of the measure (that is, the business-as-usual compliance activity).

          4.3 The New Policy Proposals (NPPs) for the 2012–13 Budget measure Increase in compliance review activity and the 2013–14 Budget measure Increase compliance for customers with earned income clearly outlined both the expected business-as-usual compliance activities Human Services planned to undertake as well as the additional compliance activities to be completed under the measures. In a similar manner, the NPP for the 2015–16 measure Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments also noted that funding under the proposal would provide for additional investigations and compliance interventions, with the volume of both measure and business-as-usual activities set out in Human Services’ annual Compliance Programme.42 The respective NPPs for the remaining four measures in the scope of this audit proposed a new or different type of compliance activity to the business-as-usual activity in the corresponding area of risk. As such, the agreed levels of business-as-usual activity for these measures were assessed by the ANAO to be nil.

          4.4 Human Services tracked and reported its compliance measure activities and business-as-usual activities separately.

          4.5 Human Services advised the ANAO that business-as-usual compliance activity is different each year depending on a range of factors, including: new payment accuracy risks; risk trends; and data acquisition. Human Services further advised the ANAO that:

          The delivery of the compliance programme is not a defined commitment to government but rather a living document which is subject to change according to a number of factors, including but not limited to, government/ministerial priorities, coverage across all areas of payment risk, high-profile risks in the media, other influencing factors such as emergency responses or other department priorities.

          4.6 Table 4.1 sets out the ANAO’s analysis (see Appendix 4 for the ANAO’s methodology), by measure and financial year, of Human Services’ delivery against the level of compliance activities agreed by Government for:

          • business-as-usual activity (where applicable);
          • compliance measure activity; and
          • compliance measure activity achievement in addition to business-as-usual activities.43

          Table 4.1: ANAO’s assessment of Human Services’ achievement of additional compliance measure activitiesa

          Year

          Measure activity target

          Business-as-usual activity agreedb

          Total activity target

          Total activities completed

          Measure activities completed

          Achievement of additional measure activities

          Accelerated real estate review cycle measure

          2012–13

          15 000

          0

          15 000

          18 144

          18 144

          2013–14

          30 000

          0

          30 000

          28 536

          28 536

          2014–15

          30 000

          0

          30 000

          196

          196

          2015–16

          30 000

          0

          30 000

          22 237

          22 237

          Increase in compliance review activity measure

          2012–13

          30 000

          30 000

          60 000

          32 316

          2316

          2013–14

          30 000

          30 000

          60 000

          27 632

          0

          2014–15

          15 000

          30 000

          45 000

          24 178

          0

          Increased compliance for international risk measurec,d

          Total

          33 800

          0

          33 800

          53 710

          33 800

          New compliance data sources measure

          2012–13

          900

          0

          900

          180

          180

          2013–14

          1200

          0

          1200

          1617

          1617

          2014–15

          1200

          0

          1200

          1252

          1252

          2015–16

          1200

          0

          1200

          499

          499

          Increase compliance for customers with earned income measure

          2013–14

          19 000

          20 000

          39 000

          17 672

          0

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—Employment Income Matchingd

          2015–16

          84 000

          2241

          86 241

          101 563

          84 000

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—AUSTRAC

          2015–16

          626

          0

          626

          287

          287

                       

          Key:  ✔ >=95% of expectation/target achieved  ✖ <95% of expectation/target not achieved

          Note a: Excludes the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure as this measure sought to improve the recovery of Commonwealth outlays as opposed to targeting a specific compliance risk.

          Note b: The agreed levels of business-as-usual activity were based on information outlined in: the relevant NPPs for the Increase in compliance review activity and Increase compliance for customers with earned income measures; and from the Compliance Programme for the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—Employment Income Matching initiative.

          Note c: The activity level target Human Services used for the Increased compliance for international risk measure was lower than the target agreed in the NPP. This reduced target, as used by Human Services, made a year-by-year assessment of activity achievement difficult. For this measure the ANAO has presented aggregated figures only showing the total activity completed and the total measure activity target for the entire measure period. This matter is further discussed at Appendix 3.

          Note d: While the ‘total activities completed’ by Human Services exceeded the ‘total activity target’, the additional activities have not been counted as contributing towards the ‘additional measure activities’, on the basis that the department used significantly more full-time equivalent staffing resources to complete these activities than was allocated in the Budget process and the department’s original planning. As such, the additional activities are considered to contribute toward the achievement of the department’s broader compliance program. See paragraph 4.16.

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          4.7 As outlined in Table 4.1, achievement of agreed compliance activity levels for the compliance measures was highly variable. Notably, with respect to the Increase in compliance review activity and Increase compliance for customers with earned income measures, the volume of measure activity completed, after accounting for the expected business-as-usual activity, was significantly lower than planned. Across both measures, the total number of compliance activities completed was less than the expected business-as-usual levels across all years, with the exception of 2012–13 for the Increase in compliance review activity measure.

          4.8 Human Services advised the ANAO that it disagrees with the ANAO’s methodology for assessing achievement of additional compliance measure activities (as set out in Table 4.1 and Appendix 4). In particular, Human Services advised:

          Compliance measures are managed as part of the department’s broader Compliance Programme and aims to address risks to the integrity of government payments. The Compliance Programme is underpinned by a comprehensive assessment of key risks to payment accuracy and is managed in a flexible manner to support a responsive and agile approach that addresses emerging risks. This flexibility has also enabled the department to adopt more preventive, self-correction strategies that do not always represent an overall increase in business-as-usual compliance activity, but supports more effective and efficient approaches to addressing payment integrity risks and achieving outcomes. Consistent with this focus on outcomes, the department assesses the achievement of its compliance measures based on agreed savings targets and not activity levels.

          4.9 In addition, Human Services advised the ANAO that a number of factors impacted the department’s ability to complete the planned activity for these two measures and related business-as-usual, including:

          • the effort required for the Increase in compliance review activity measure was more than the funding provided;
          • delays in the commencement of compliance reviews in 2012–13 impacted on the period available to achieve the planned compliance reviews for that year;
          • instability in departmental systems, which led to significant periods of down time for staff;
          • the natural disasters of 2010–11 (particularly the Brisbane floods in January 2011) had a major impact on the department’s compliance activities that extended into the 2012–13 financial year44; and
          • during the period 31 October 2013 to 30 June 2015, due to the APS-wide recruitment freeze, there was reduced ability for the department to both recruit new staff and fill vacancies.

          4.10 Notwithstanding the above, Human Services did not complete the additional activity agreed in the NPPs for the Increase in compliance review activity and Increase compliance for customers with earned income measures. In this regard, the outcomes achieved (including the level of risk addressed through compliance reviews and the expected savings) were not additional to those that would have been expected had existing compliance activities continued.

          4.11 In relation to the Accelerated real estate review cycle measure, Human Services advised the ANAO that the delivery of the measure was impacted by the closure of the Australian Valuation Office in June 2014.45 Human Services also advised that in 2014–15 the emergence of significant compliance problems associated with the family day care sector impacted on the department’s ability to deliver the required level of activity (both under this measure and the compliance program more broadly). Human Services advised the ANAO that after briefing the Minister for Human Services, 50 compliance staff were reallocated from the measure to assist with the family day care risk as a priority.

          4.12 In respect to the Increased compliance for international risk measure and the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure—Employment Income Matching initiative, the activity levels completed and attributed to the measures by Human Services exceeded the agreed combined activity levels for both the business-as-usual (where relevant) and the compliance measure. The ANAO notes; however, that in order to achieve these activity levels, the department used significantly more full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing resources to complete these activities than were allocated in the Budget and the department’s original planning (see Table 4.2). As such, those additional activities (beyond the agreed measure targets) are considered by the ANAO to contribute toward the achievement of Human Services’ broader compliance program.

          4.13 Human Services advised the ANAO that it disagreed with the ANAO’s methodology for attributing compliance activity and calculating savings (see also paragraph 4.16) from the above two measures. In particular, the department advised the ANAO that:

          Any additional staffing effort attributed to these Budget measures is at the discretion of … executive and is managed from within existing budget allocations. If [the department] uses existing staff effort to deliver on outcomes that are required by Government, then this is an example of effective use of resources to deliver on Government requirements.

          Table 4.2: Comparison between the allocated and actual full-time equivalent staffing resources for the Increased compliance for international risk measure and  the Employment Income Matching initiative of the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure

          Year

          Allocated FTE

          Actual FTEa

          Increased compliance for international risk measure

          2012–13

          24.74

          100.53

          2013–14

          7.48

          25.87

          2014–15

          7.48

          N/Ab

          2015–16

          7.48

          N/Ab

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—Employment Income Matching

          2015–16

          254.20

          368.80c

               

          Note a: Human Services advised the ANAO that the actual FTE figures relate to the direct compliance activity components of the compliance measures and do not include FTE relating to any management overheads, corporate costs or subsequent activities such as debt recovery or appeals. The actual FTE figures are as at 30 June for the relevant financial year.

          Note b: Human Services advised that from 2014–15 onwards, the compliance activities for this measure were delivered as part of the broader compliance program. As the project was financially simplified, and undertaken as a subset of a larger group, there is no breakdown available.

          Note c: Human Services advised the ANAO that the activity for this measure addresses the risk of employment income and is one of a number of compliance controls that are used to manage this risk. As this activity was delivered as a part of broader activity managing the employment income risk the specific FTE cannot be isolated. Human Services; however, provided the ANAO with an estimate of the actual FTE derived by comparing the difference between the FTE for compliance activity associated with Earned Income in the 2014–15 financial year (pre-budget measure) and the 2015–16 financial year.

          Source: Human Services’ data.

          Achievement of savings

          4.14 During the course of the audit, the Department of Social Services (DSS) calculated the savings achieved from each of the Budget measures in the scope of this audit. DSS’ calculations used data supplied by Human Services, including the number of compliance activities completed under each measure (noting that Human Services tracked and reported compliance measure activity and business-as-usual activity separately). However, as discussed above, it is not consistent with the basis of the funding agreed by Government during the Budget to attribute compliance activities to a measure where the agreed volume of business-as-usual activities has not been maintained. Likewise, any savings associated with these business-as-usual activities also cannot be attributed to the measure. The ANAO’s view is that these business-as-usual savings should have been realised regardless of the compliance measures, where the Budget measure proposed additional activity.

          4.15 As such, where a measure was an extension of expected business-as-usual activities, the ANAO re-calculated the savings estimated to have been achieved, based on the ANAO’s assessment of the additional compliance measure activities completed (as per Table 4.1)—that is, the savings associated with the compliance activity that was additional to the expected business-as-usual activity levels. See Appendix 3 for further details and Appendix 4 for information on the ANAO’s methodology.

          4.16 In addition, while the department exceeded the agreed combined activity level for both the Increased compliance for international risk measure and Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—Employment Income Matching initiative, the ANAO revised the actual gross savings to only count towards the compliance activity level agreed with government. This is on the basis that the NPP substantially underestimated the costs of delivery; as a consequence, the implementation of these two measures was not as cost-effective as the proposals put to government. In this context, the ANAO considered these additional activities and their corresponding savings to contribute towards the achievement of Human Services’ broader compliance program, rather than the compliance measures.

          4.17 As noted in paragraph 4.13, Human Services advised the ANAO that it disagreed with the ANAO’s methodology for (attributing compliance activity and) calculating savings from the above two measures.

          4.18 Table 4.3 compares the target and actual gross savings in fiscal balance terms for the ‘Fraud prevention and compliance’ measures from 2012–13 to 2015–16 and Table 4.4 compares the target and actual gross savings in fiscal balance terms for the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure—Employment Income Matching and AUSTRAC initiatives for 2015–16.

          Table 4.3: Comparison between target and achieved overall fiscal balance savings for ‘Fraud prevention and compliance’ measures, 2012–13 to 2015–16a

          Measure

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms ($million)

          Achieved gross savings—in fiscal balance terms ($million)

          Difference between target and actual savings ($million)

          Accelerated real estate review cycle

          $63.11

          $31.95b

          ($31.16)

          under target

          Increase in compliance review activity

          $161.54

          $11.31c

          ($150.23)

          under target

          Increased compliance for international risk

          $100.41

          $36.23c

          ($64.18)

          under target

          New compliance data sources

          $65.94

          $81.24b

          $15.30

          over target

          Increase compliance for customers with earned income

          $67.53

          $0c

          ($67.53)

          under target

          Total

          $458.53

          $160.73

          ($297.80)

          under target

                 

          Note a: Excludes the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure as this measure only has savings in underlying cash terms. This measure recovered $33.3 million in gross underlying cash savings against a target of $20.1 million (see Table 4.5).

          Note b: DSS calculation of achieved gross fiscal balance savings

          Note c: ANAO estimates of achieved gross fiscal balance savings.

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          Table 4.4: Comparison between target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the AUSTRAC initiatives for 2015–16

          Measure

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms ($million)

          Achieved gross savings—in fiscal balance terms ($million)

          Difference between target and actual savings ($million)

          Employment Income Matching

          $329.10

          $331.18a

          $2.08

          over target

          AUSTRAC

          $3.03

          $7.60b

          $4.57

          over target

          Total

          $332.13

          $338.78

          $6.65

          over target

                 

          Note a: ANAO estimation of achieved gross fiscal balance savings.

          Note b: DSS calculation of achieved gross fiscal balance savings.

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          4.19 As discussed in paragraph 3.14, the extent to which Human Services achieves the projected debt recovery targets—as reflected in the Government’s targets for underlying cash savings—is also a key indicator of the success of a measure. The Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure was solely focused on debt recovery and the measure’s savings target was only in underlying cash terms. Table 4.5 shows that this measure exceeded its underlying cash gross savings target by $13.24 million.

          Table 4.5: Comparison between target and achieved gross underlying cash savings for the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms ($million)

          Achieved gross savings—in fiscal balance terms ($million)

          Difference between target and actual savings ($million)

          $20.06

          $33.30

          $13.24 over target

               

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          4.20 As Human Services did not track its debt recovery achievements for the remaining measures, the ANAO was unable to quantify Human Services’ achievement of delivering underlying cash savings to the Budget over the relevant periods.46 During the course of the audit, DSS calculated the estimated underlying cash savings for the measures for the ANAO, using the inputs and methodology used in costing the measures. As outlined in paragraph 2.11, the key inputs and methodology used by DSS to complete the estimation were developed around eight to ten years ago. As such, the DSS calculations may not reflect more contemporary data such as average debt recovery rates for relevant financial years. In addition, DSS’ calculations were based on advice from Human Services on key assumptions, which do not have regard to agreed additionality and therefore do not match the ANAO’s methodology for calculating savings (see Appendix 4). Consequently, the ANAO is unable to verify the reliability of these underlying cash savings calculations.

          ANAO overall assessment of compliance measures’ achievements

          4.21 In summary, in assessing whether each of the compliance measures had achieved its expected outcomes, the ANAO considered the following areas of performance:

          • fiscal balance savings achieved against the relevant targets;
          • underlying cash savings achieved against expected targets; and
          • whether the number of compliance activities completed were additional to the compliance activities usually completed by the department—that is, business-as-usual activities were maintained—where clearly set out in the policy case.

          4.22 Table 4.6 shows the ANAO’s assessment of the individual achievements of the compliance measures. The ANAO’s detailed analysis of each measure’s achievements is at Appendix 3.

          Table 4.6: ANAO’s assessment of the achievements of the compliance measuresa

          Measure

          Fiscal balance savings achieved

          Underlying cash savings achievedb

          Measure activities completedc

          ANAO assessment of overall expectations met

          Fraud prevention and compliance measures

          Accelerated real estate review cycle

          Not met

          Increase in compliance review activity

          Not met

          Increased compliance for international risk

          Partially met

          Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt

           

          Met

          New compliance data sources

          Partially met

          Increase compliance for customers with earned income

          Not met

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measured

          Employment Income Matching

          Met

          AUSTRAC

          Partially met

                   

          Key:  ✔ >=95% of expectation/target achieved  ✖ <95% of expectation/target not achieved   ANAO unable to determine

          Note a: For the 2012–13 and 2013–14 Fraud Prevention and Compliance measures, the assessed achievements relate to the whole measure period. For the 2015–16 Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, the assessed achievements relate only to the 2015–16 results for those two individual projects that had identified savings targets for the 2015–16 year.

          Note b: Where the ANAO has assessed the underlying cash savings as ‘not met’, the ANAO’s estimate of actual fiscal balance savings achieved for a measure was lower than the underlying cash savings target. Therefore, even if all debts raised had been recovered over the measure period, the underlying cash savings could not have been achieved.

          Note c: The review activity targets that the ANAO used to assess the compliance measure achievements against were set out in the relevant policy proposals brought to Government. For the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, the proposal outlined the total compliance activities for the measure period. The ANAO assessed the 2015–16 achievements for the two projects in this measure against the targets outlined in the Employment Income Matching and AUSTRAC Project Plans.

          Note d: In making an overall assessment of the achievement of the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, the ANAO aggregated the achievements of these two projects.

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services and DSS data.

          4.23 Human Services should undertake a more complete assessment of its achievements against relevant compliance measures. Where a measure is agreed to as an extension of business-as-usual activity, the achievements of the measure should be seen in the context of whether the achievements were in addition to its business-as-usual outcomes. It is also acknowledged that unforeseen risks, unplanned events or other emerging priorities, including those outside an entity’s control, can affect the implementation and expected achievements of Budget measures.47 Where issues arise affecting the achievement of Budget commitments, Human Services and DSS should assess their continued ability to meet the Government’s expectations. Where achievements are likely to be significantly lower than commitments, the relevant minister should be promptly advised, to allow for a timely decision on whether the continued implementation of the relevant measure is the most efficient and effective use of public resources in the circumstances.48

          Recommendation No.3

          4.24 That the Department of Human Services’ assessment of the outcomes and achievements of compliance Budget measures includes a complete assessment against expected additional activity levels (where agreed) as well as the expected additional savings.

          Department of Human Services response: The Department already undertakes these assessments as demonstrated by the tables in Appendix 1 of our response.

          Have the measures been evaluated?

          Human Services has project management processes in place to conduct reviews both at the post implementation phase and at project closure and has completed three post implementation reviews and four closure reports for the compliance measures. The post implementation reviews could be improved by including a risk assessment of the broader implications of any issues identified and their potential impacts on the project’s overall objectives. The information reported in the closure reports could be improved by including more analysis regarding costs and effort expended on the measures, and the business-as-usual impacts.

          4.25 Evaluating compliance measures during and at the conclusion of projects provides the opportunity to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the activities, including the outcomes achieved, the returns on investment realised, and informs the evidence base for future compliance actions.

          Evaluating compliance measures

          4.26 In Human Services’ project management framework, closure reports and post implementation reviews (PIRs) are the principle mechanisms for assessing impacts and setting out lessons learned:

          • closure reports are mandatory for all projects, and their purpose is to seek the Project Board’s approval to close the project;
          • PIRs aim to provide an overall review assessment of whether the intent of a project was achieved and the desired benefits have been or are in the process of being realised. The requirement to complete PIRs varies depending on the complexity of a project.49 PIRs are mandatory for Human Services’ most complex, Tier 1 projects, recommended for Tier 2 projects, and optional for Tier 3 projects.

          4.27 Table 4.7 sets out the relevant measure, tier level, and the status of each PIR and Closure Report.

          Table 4.7: Measure, tier level and completion status of Post Implementation Reviews and Closure Reports

          Measure

          Tier Level

          Post Implementation Review Completed

          Closure Report Completed

          Accelerated real estate review cycle

          1

          Completed

          27 July 2013

          Completed

          10 August 2016

          Increase in compliance review activity

          1

          Completed

          27 September 2013

          Completed

          13 October 2014

          Increased compliance for international risk

          1

          Completed

          27 September 2013

          Completed

          10 August 2016

          Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt

          3

          Not yet completed at time of audit

          Not yet completed

          New compliance data sources

          2

          To be combined with Closure Report

          Not yet completed

          Increase compliance for customers with earned income

          2

          Not required—not completed

          Completed

          9 September 2014

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—AUSTRAC

          1

          Expected: three months after project closure

          Expected to close in 2019

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—Employment Income Matching

          2

          Not yet completed

          Expected to close in 2018

                 

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ documentation.

          Post implementation reviews

          4.28 At the time of the audit, PIRs had been undertaken for three of the six compliance measures that were to close by the end of 2015–16. Each of these PIRs was completed shortly after the end of the first year, and focused on the measures’ achievements in the first year of implementation.

          4.29 According to Human Services’ documentation, PIRs are expected to provide ‘an overall review’ and to assess whether ‘the intent was achieved’ and ‘desired benefits’ realised. However, an assessment after only one year of implementation is unlikely to be as informative as a summative analysis of three-to-four years of activity.50

          4.30 The PIRs for each measure made an assessment of the measure’s performance against expectations by providing a comparison between the measure’s actual performance and the assumptions51 used to develop the compliance measure. The PIRs reported findings in a number of areas and made recommendations to support improvement in those areas.52 While the reports identified areas for improvement, they did not contain an assessment of the impact of the issues on the achievement of the measure’s objectives for the duration of the measure period. The PIRs could be improved by including a summary, including risk assessment, of the broader implications of any issues identified and their potential impacts on the project’s overall objectives.

          Closure reports

          4.31 Six of the seven compliance measures were completed by the end of the 2015–16 financial year. At the time of the audit, closure reports had been prepared for four measures.53 All four closure reports identified:

          • Human Services’ calculation of the measure’s fiscal balance savings achieved against the target for the measure54;
          • the reason for recommending the project for closure; and
          • lessons learned to improve the management of future projects.

          4.32 Information reported in the closure reports could be improved in relation to: costs and effort expended on the measures; and business-as-usual impacts.

          Costs and effort

          4.33 Both the closure reports for Increased compliance for international risk and Increase in compliance review activity identified that resourcing levels were increased to address underachievement of measure targets.55 However, neither report provided any assessment on whether these additional resources had any impacts on the net savings from the measures, or cost effectiveness of the measures.

          4.34 Human Services advised the ANAO that it uses a number of methods to determine the effectiveness of compliance activity, linked to the management of risk, the impact on customer behaviour, the impact on third parties, and the amount of staff effort. To assist in the development of new measures and provide a more complete summary of the performance of compliance measures, closure reports should include an estimate of total actual costs for the measure, compared with the budgeted cost.56This would provide a more accurate indication of the net benefits achieved from the measure and assist Human Services to assess whether the measure (and the particular compliance interventions used) was a cost-effective way to address the compliance risk.57

          Impacts on the compliance program’s business-as-usual activities

          4.35 Neither closure report for the Increase in compliance review activity and the Increase compliance for customers with earned income measures discussed the impact of the measure on the department’s business-as-usual activities, nor quantified the number of business-as-usual activities. Where the department’s policy case sets out that the Budget-funded compliance activities are ‘additional’ to its business-as-usual activities, Human Services should include the measure’s achievements against planned outcomes and any relevant information relating to its business-as-usual activities in its evaluation of the measure.

          Timing of closure report preparation

          4.36 The PIR for the Increase in compliance review activity measure was completed in September 2013—fifteen months after the measure’s commencement. The closure report for this measure was then documented in October 2014—eight months before the actual completion date for the measure. Human Services’ documentation notes that the measure was put forward for early closure because the measure’s expected savings and agreed business deliverables had been achieved. The policy case for this measure outlined that the first two years of the measure would target customers who were considered ‘high’ to ‘very high’ risk, with the final year (2014–15) of the measure to focus on customers that would be unlikely to lodge income tax returns in the future. One implication of the early completion of the closure report for the measure is that the report could not fully explore whether the expected focus on compliance risks in the final year had been achieved. Combined with the early PIR, an overall evaluation of the measure was not completed.

          Appendices

          Appendix 1 Entity responses

          Department of Human Services

          Department of Human Services

          Department of Human Services response page 2

          Department of Social Services

          Department of Social Services response letter

          Department of Social Services response letter page 2

          Appendix 2 List of the seven fraud prevention and compliance Budget measures within the scope of this audit

          2012–13 Budget

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Accelerated real estate review cycle

          The Government will provide $14.6 million over four years to change the frequency of asset reviews for certain income support recipients from once every two years to once a year for those deemed to be most at risk of changes in the value of their real estate investments. This comprises $13.1 million to the Department of Human Services and $1.5 million to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Currently around 200 000 Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment recipients own real estate in addition to their own home, which can affect their rate of payment.

          The Department of Human Services will undertake up to 60 000 reviews annually, providing greater certainty for affected payment recipients about their pension assessment through a more frequent assessment cycle. The measure is expected to provide net savings of $48.6 million over four years.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Increase in compliance review activity

          The Government will provide $41.3 million over three years to increase the number of data-matching reviews. This comprises $40.7 million to the Department of Human Services and $0.7 million to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. The Department of Human Services will review an additional 75 000 high risk customers between 2012–13 and 2014–15 to identify and recover inaccurate payments.

          This measure is an extension of existing compliance programs which improve the accuracy of social welfare payments and minimise debt accrued by customers. The measure is expected to provide net savings of $120.2 million over four years.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Increased compliance for international risk

          The Government will provide $8.4 million over five years to undertake additional customer reviews to address risks to the accuracy of payments to recipients living overseas or living in Australia and receiving a foreign pension.

          This comprises $8.3 million to the Department of Human Services (DHS) and $0.1 million to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

          DHS will review certain customers residing overseas to ensure that payments are not continuing after the customer has deceased. DHS will also perform additional reviews of customers in Australia who receive a foreign pension to ensure that Australian pensions are adjusted to account for any changes in international pensions, where these have not been reported to DHS.

          The measure is expected to provide net savings of $92.1 million over five years.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt

          The Government will provide $5.9 million over four years to recover debts from former Centrelink customers, focusing on high value debts. An investigative taskforce will be established to locate former customers with large outstanding debts and analyse their income and assets. Resources will also go towards debt recovery, including legal proceedings where appropriate.

          The measure is expected to provide net savings over four years of $14.2 million in underlying cash terms. There will be no impact on the fiscal balance from debt recovery because these debts are already recorded as an existing asset.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—New compliance data sources

          The Government will provide $8.9 million over four years from 2012–13 to expand the range of data used by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to reduce inappropriate access to welfare payments.

          The measure will allow DHS to better identify welfare fraud through new data sources, and the more frequent use of existing sources. A number of data sources including Medicare card usage data, Australian Passport Office information, and Australian Business Register data will be utilised. Expanding the range of data sources will result in more customer investigations and the recovery of more incorrectly-claimed payments. The measure will target emerging fraud risks, including online interactions with DHS, false identities or undeclared income from business.

          The measure is expected to provide net savings of $57.1 million over four years.

          2013−14 Budget

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Increase compliance for customers with earned income

          The Government will provide $8.9 million in 2013–14 to increase the number of compliance reviews in the payments system. This comprises $8.8 million to the Department of Human Services (DHS) and $0.2 million to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

          DHS will review 19,000 cases where it identifies inconsistencies between Pay-As-You-Go income tax payment summaries and the income reported to DHS for the 2010–11 financial year.

          The measure is expected to provide net savings of $58.6 million over three years.

          2015−16 Budget

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Paymentsa

          The Government will achieve savings of $1.7 billion over five years by enhancing the Department of Human Services (DHS) fraud prevention and debt recovery capability, and improving assessment processes.

          From 1 July 2015 DHS will implement an integrated package of compliance and process improvement initiatives including improved automation and targeted strategies for fraud prevention in areas of high risk.

          The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities.

          Note a: The audit focussed on two particular initiatives under the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure that had identified savings for 2015–16: the Employment Income Matching initiative and the AUSTRAC initiative. The audit only assessed outcomes for these two initiatives for the 2015–16 financial year.

          Source: Australian Government’s Budget Papers No.2. for 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2015–16.

          Appendix 3 Case studies—achievements of individual compliance measures

          1. The case studies below outline the achievements of individual measures based on information available to the ANAO, and the ANAO’s methodology for calculating compliance measure achievements at Appendix 4.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Accelerated real estate review cycle

          2. The Accelerated real estate review cycle measure was designed to improve the accuracy of pension payments by accelerating the review cycle for 30 000 pensioners with high value real estate investments from biennial to annual. In 2012–13 the Department of Human Services (Human Services) received $13.1 million over four years to implement the measure.

          3. The measure was expected to return gross fiscal balance savings of $63.1 million over four years. The New Policy Proposal (NPP) for the measure outlines that the four year project would conduct 105 000 compliance activities, with 15 000 activities in 2012–13 and 30 000 activities per year from 2013–14 to 2015–16.

          4. Human Services completed 66 per cent of the required 105 000 compliance activities. Table A.1, outlines the number of activities completed over the measure period.

          Table A.1: Comparison between target and completed compliance activities for the Accelerated real estate review cycle measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          2012–13

          2013–14

          2014–15

          2015–16

          Total

          Total activity target

          15 000

          30 000

          30 000

          30 000

          105 000

          • Business-as-usual activity agreed

          0

          0

          0

          0

          0

          • Measure activity target

          15 000

          30 000

          30 000

          30 000

          105 000

          Total activities completed

          18 144

          28 536

          196

          22 237

          69 113

          • Business-as-usual activities completed

          0

          0

          0

          0

          0

          • Measure activities completed

          18 144

          28 536

          196

          22 237

          69 113

          Difference between measure activity target and measure activities completed

          3144

          over target

          (1464)

          under target

          (29 804)

          under target

          (7763)

          under target

          (35 887)

          under target

                     

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          5. Human Services advised the ANAO that a number of factors impacted on the achievements of the Accelerated real estate review cycle measure, including the closure of the Australian Valuation Office (AVO) and issues with the savings and debt assumptions developed by the Department of Social Services (DSS).

          6. Human Services’ internal documentation noted that the AVO’s closure was a consequence of the arrangements between Human Services and the AVO ceasing in June 2014 following the department’s implementation in 2013–14 of an efficiency Budget measure aimed at transitioning all real estate evaluations in the department to a risk based model. Human Services’ internal documentation noted that the new model potentially superseded the intent and approach of the compliance measure.

          7. Human Services internal documentation outlines that engagement occurred with DSS regarding terminating the measure. While it was acknowledged that the new model potentially superseded the intent and approach of the measure, Human Services documentation notes that DSS agreed that the 30 000 activities for the 2014–15 financial year would proceed. Human Services’ internal documentation also noted that ‘the process to cease the Budget measure is much more complex than the process to see it through.’ Human Services advised the ANAO that further discussions with DSS recognised that the measure needed to continue to assist with managing the compliance risk until the time the new risk based model was fully operational.

          8. Human Services also advised the ANAO that due to the closure of the AVO, the department did not have access to a suitable valuations provider and was unable to complete the required volume of compliance activities for 2014–15, with only 196 activities completed that year. Human Services also advised the ANAO that in 2014–15 the emergence of significant compliance problems associated with the family day care sector impacted on the department’s ability to deliver the required level of activity (both under this measure and the compliance program more broadly). Human Services advised that after briefing the Minister for Human Services, 50 compliance staff were reallocated from the measure to assist with the family day care risk as a priority.

          9. Human Services’ internal documentation also outlined that the case selection undertaken by DSS for the measure did not identify sufficient ‘high risk’ cases to meet the required volume of activities for 2012–13. The department’s internal reporting estimated that approximately 57 per cent of customers selected for the measure were non-asset tested customers.58 Consequently, the achievement of outcomes was much lower than expected for 2012–13 and 2013–14.

          10. As shown in Table A.2, the measure did not achieve the expected fiscal savings outcomes over the measure period—achieving $31.95 million against the $63.11 million target.

          Table A.2: Comparison between target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the Accelerated real estate review cycle measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          Total ($million)

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $63.11

          Actual gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $31.95

          Difference between target and achieved savings

          ($31.16)

          under target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Increase in compliance review activity

          11. In 2012–13 Human Services received $40.7 million over three years to implement the Increase in compliance review activity measure. This measure aimed to increase the number of Data-Matching Program compliance activities undertaken by Human Services. The policy case for the measure outlined that Human Services completed approximately 30 000 Data-Matching Program activities annually as part of its business-as-usual activities. The measure was expected to return gross fiscal balance savings of $161.5 million over four years through Human Services’ review of an additional 75 000 Data-Matching Program reviews of ‘high risk’ customers.

          12. During 2012–13 Human Services separately received $11.9 million to complete 31 250 activities, as part of an earlier 2009–10 Budget measure Fraud and compliance – increased Centrelink compliance review activity. Human Services advised these activities were included as part of its business-as-usual Data-Matching Program reviews for 2012–13.59

          13. As Table A.3 outlines, after accounting for the expected Data-Matching Program business-as-usual activities, Human Services completed 2316 additional activities over the three years of the Budget measure.

          Table A.3: Comparison between target and completed compliance activities for the Increase in compliance review activity measure, 2012–13 to 2014–15

           

          2012–13

          2013–14

          2014–15

          Total

          Total activity target

          60 000

          60 000

          45 000

          165 000

          • Business-as-usual activity agreed

          30 000

          30 000

          30 000

          90 000

          • Measure activity target

          30 000

          30 000

          15 000

          75 000

          Total activities completed

          32 316

          27 632

          24 178

          84 126

          • Business-as-usual activities completed

          30 000

          27 632

          24 178

          81 810

          • Measure activities completed

          2316

          0

          0

          2316

          Difference between measure activity target and measure activities completed

          (27 684)

          under target

          (30 000)

          under target

          (15 000)

          under target

          (72 684)

          under target

                   

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          14. Based on the ANAO’s analysis, the 2316 additional activities completed under the Budget measure achieved an estimated $11.31 million in gross fiscal balance savings from 2012–13 to 2015–16, as outlined in Table A.4.

          Table A.4: Comparison between target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the Increase in compliance review activity measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          Total ($million)

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $161.54

          Actual gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $11.31

          Difference between target and actual savings

          ($150.23)

          under target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          15. The policy proposal for this measure outlined that the focus of the measure was to review all ‘high risk’ to ‘very high risk’ cases identified through the Data-Matching Program prior to the implementation of the new tax free threshold. Human Services’ documentation shows that case selections for this measure were adjusted to include lower risk cases to ensure there was an adequate volume of activity being progressed to achieve the required volume of completions. Table A.5 shows the percentage of compliance activities completed in 2012–13 for each risk category.

          Table A.5: Risk classification of compliance activities undertaken in 2012–13 for the Increase in compliance review activity measurea

          Risk

          Percentage of overall completed compliance activities

          Very High

          17.38

          High

          36.12

          Medium

          21.15

          Low

          0.05

          No Risk Appliedb

          25.30

          Total

          100

             

          Note a: This is based on the number of activities Human Services’ calculated as being completed under the compliance measure.

          Note b: Human Services advised the ANAO that ‘no risk applied’ indicates that a risk rating had not been applied to the case prior to the commencement of the review, and does not indicate these are ‘low risk’ or ‘no risk’ cases.60

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Increased compliance for international risk

          16. In 2012–13, Human Services received $8.2 million over five years to undertake additional compliance reviews addressing risk to the accuracy of payments to recipients living overseas or living in Australia and receiving a foreign pension. As part of the measure the department committed to complete a total of 33 800 additional compliance reviews over the four years.

          17. Human Services advised the ANAO that the expected savings from this measure were not realised due to the compliance outcomes being lower than the assumptions underpinning the original savings estimates. Documentation relating to the measure notes that Human Services found it challenging to identify a sufficient number of high risk cases, and to achieve the target compliance numbers the department included a greater number of lower risk cases which were more likely to have lower savings outcomes.

          18. Data provided by Human Service shows that the department used significantly more full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing resources to implement the measure than were allocated in the Budget process and the department’s original planning. As shown in Table A.6, the actual level of staffing resources used by Human Services was four times greater than those allocated for 2012–13 and three times greater than the allocated level of staffing for 2013–14.

          Table A.6: Comparison between costed and actual full-time equivalent staffing resourcing for Increased compliance for international risk measure

          Year

          Allocated FTE

          Actual FTE

          2012–13

          24.74

          100.53

          2013–14

          7.48

          25.87

          2014–15

          7.48

          N/Aa

          2015–16

          7.48

          N/Aa

               

          Note a: Human Services advised that from 2014–15 onwards, the compliance activity for this measure was delivered as part of the broader compliance program. As the project was financially simplified and undertaken as a subset of a larger group there is no breakdown available.

          Source: Human Services’ data.

          19. While Human Services exceeded the target compliance activities for the Increased compliance for international risk measure, it required significantly greater staffing resources than provided for in the Budget in order to do so. The ANAO therefore considered that the activities completed above the measure target activities (and their corresponding savings) were contributions towards the achievement of Human Services’ broader compliance program, rather than the measure. Table A.7 shows that Human Services reached the compliance measure target of 33 800 reviews and also completed an additional 19 910 reviews.

          20. While the policy case for the Increased compliance for international risk measure outlined a target of 33 800 reviews would be completed, Human Services project plan cited a target of 26 300 reviews. Human Services tracked and reported against this lower target over the life of the measure. Consequently, for this measure the ANAO has presented the aggregated figures showing the total activity completed and the total compliance measure activity target, as presented in the NPP over the measure period, rather than including a year by year assessment of activity level achievements.

          Table A.7: Comparison between total target and completed compliance reviews for the Increased compliance for international risk measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          Total

          Total activity target

          33 800

          • Business-as-usual activity agreed

          0

          • Measure activity target

          33 800

          Total activities completed

          53 710

          • Business-as-usual activities completed

          19 910

          • Measure activities completed

          33 800

          Difference between measure activity target and measure activities completed

          0

          target met

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          21. The measure was expected to return gross fiscal balance savings of $100.4 million over four years. As shown in Table A.8, based on ANAO’s analysis of savings, the 33 800 activities completed for the Increased compliance for international risk measure achieved an estimated $36.23 million in gross fiscal balance savings. If the additional (business-as-usual) reviews completed for this measure were to be included towards the measure target, the total savings achieved for the measure would be $57.57 million.

          Table A.8: Comparison between target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the Increased compliance for international risk measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          Total ($million)

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $100.41

          Actual gross savings—in in fiscal balance terms

          $36.23

          Difference between target and actual savings

          ($64.18)

          under target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt

          22. The aim of the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure was to recover debts from former Centrelink customers, focusing on debts with a value greater than $10 000. The measure included establishing an investigative taskforce and resources towards debt recovery, including legal proceedings where appropriate.

          23. The NPP and the project plan for the compliance measure noted that the taskforce sought to improve recovery of Commonwealth outlays through targeted administrative action for 600 cases where the debt value is greater than $10 000, with 40 selected cases proceeding for legal action. Project documentation indicates no target was set or monitored for the specific number of debt recovery cases to be undertaken as part of the measure. Human Services advised the ANAO this was an annual target, and the target for the life of the project was 2400 cases, with 160 proceeding to legal action. As shown in Table A.9, Human Services advised the ANAO that 6540 cases were targeted for administrative action—nearly three times the internal target of 2400—and 186 selected cases proceeding for legal action against an internal target of 160.

          Table A.9: Comparison between the overall internal target and completed cases for the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          Cases for administrative action

          Cases proceeding for legal action

          Internal target number of cases

          2400

          160

          Completed number of cases

          6540

          186

          Difference between target and actual cases completed

          4140 over target

          26 over target

               

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          24. Human Services received $6.0 million over four years to implement the compliance measure, which was expected to provide $20.1 million gross underlying cash savings over four years.61 As shown in Table A.10 Human Services recovered $13.2 million more than the target of $20.1 million in gross underlying cash savings over the measure period.

          Table A.10: Comparison between target and achieved gross underlying cash savings for the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          Total ($million)

          Target gross savings—in underlying cash terms

          $20.06

          Actual gross savings—in underlying cash terms

          $33.30

          Difference between target and actual savings

          $13.24

          over target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—New compliance data sources

          25. In 2012–13 Human Services received $8.8 million over four years to implement the New compliance data sources measure which aimed to expand the range of data used by the department to reduce inappropriate access to welfare payments. As outlined in the NPP, this proposal was to result in 3000 customer assessments and approximately 1200 investigation referrals per annum. This measure involved the use of new data sources, a level of business-as-usual activity was not specified in the policy proposal for this measure.

          26. Despite the number of customer assessments listed as a key deliverable for the project, the department only monitored and reported on the number of investigation referrals completed. As outlined in Table A.11, Human Services did not meet the planned number of investigation referrals, completing 3548 investigation referrals against a target of 4500.

          Table A.11: Comparison between target and completed investigation referrals for the New compliance data sources measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          2012–13

          2013–14

          2014–15

          2015–16

          Total

          Total activity target

          900

          1200

          1200

          1200

          4500

          • Business-as-usual activity agreed

          0

          0

          0

          0

          0

          • Measure activity target

          900

          1200

          1200

          1200

          4500

          Total activities completed

          180

          1617

          1252

          499

          3548

          • Business-as-usual activities completed

          0

          0

          0

          0

          0

          • Measure activities completed

          180

          1617

          1252

          499

          3548

          Difference between measure activity target and measure activities completed

          (720)

          under target

          417

          over target

          52

          over target

          (701)

          under target

          (952)

          under target

                     

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          27. Human Services was expected to achieve gross fiscal balance savings of $65.94 from 2012–13 to 2015–16. As shown in Table A.12, based on the ANAO’s calculations, Human Services achieved a total of $81.2 million in gross fiscal balance savings from the measure—20 per cent more than the target of $65.94 million.

          Table A.12: Comparison between target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the New compliance data sources measure, 2012–13 to 2015–16

           

          Total ($million)

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $65.94

          Actual gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $81.24

          Difference between target and actual savings

          $15.30

          over target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          28. Human Services monitored the savings achieved for this measure against the net fiscal balance savings of $57.1 million, which did not include its costs associated with implementing the compliance measure.62 The department advised the ANAO that this was due to an administrative oversight. This issue did not impact on the gross fiscal savings achievement of the measure overall.

          Fraud prevention and compliance—Increase compliance for customers with earned income

          29. In 2013–14, Human Services received $8.8 million for the Increase compliance for customers with earned income measure. The NPP outlined that the department expected to undertake 20 000 Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) triggered activities in 2013–14 and that the one year measure would provide for an additional 19 000 compliance activities where the department had identified inconsistencies between PAYG income tax payment summaries and the income reported to Human Services for the 2010–11 financial year. The one year measure was expected to achieve gross fiscal balance savings of $67.5 million from 2013–14 to 2015–16.

          30. As shown in Table A.13, the department completed a total of 17 672 activities in 2013–14, 2328 activities below the business-as-usual expectation.

          Table A.13: Comparison between target and completed compliance activities for the Increase compliance for customers with earned income measure for 2013–14

           

          2013–14

          Total activity target

          39 000

          • Business-as-usual activity agreed

          20 000

          • Measure activity target

          19 000

          Total activities completed

          17 672

          • Business-as-usual activities completed

          17 672

          • Measure activities completed

          0

          Difference between measure activity target and measure activities completed

          (19 000)

          under target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          31. As there were no additional activities completed in 2013–14 to contribute toward the measure target, the ANAO considers that the measure did not achieve any savings. Table A. 14 compares the target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the Increase compliance for customers with earned income measure, 2013–14 to 2015–16.

          Table A.14: Comparison between target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the Increase compliance for customers with earned income measure, 2013–14 to 2015–16

           

          Total ($million)

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $67.53

          Actual gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $0

          Difference between target and actual savings

          ($67.53)

          under target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          32. Human Services tracked the compliance measure activity and business-as-usual activity for this measure separately and advised the ANAO the department completed 17 672 activities toward the measure and zero business-as-usual activities in 2013–14. Human Services documentation notes that the required savings had been achieved with approximately 2000 fewer activities than expected, due to improved targeting of compliance activity. Human Services advised the ANAO that by identifying a larger proportion of debts per completed activity, the department realised additional savings. Human Services further advised the ANAO that the department expended a larger amount of staff resources to complete the volume of activity as the higher percentage of activities that required a debt to be raised significantly increased the effort to complete the compliance activities.

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments

          33. Commencing 1 July 2015, this measure was to provide for approximately one million additional fraud investigations and compliance interventions over four years, and is expected to deliver $1.7 billion in gross fiscal balance savings over four years. The measure includes a package of initiatives, including the Employment Income Matching and AUSTRAC initiatives, which were included in the scope of this audit.

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—Employment Income Matching

          34. The Employment Income Matching initiative targets identified discrepancies from the PAYG file obtained from the Australian Taxation Office, and is expected to return $1.5 billion in gross fiscal balance savings over the forward estimates, with $329 million gross fiscal balance savings to be delivered in the first year. As outlined in the NPP, 866 857 compliance activities are planned to be undertaken as part of the initiative from 2015–16 to 2018–19. Human Services was to undertake 84 000 compliance activities in 2015–16 via a new streamlined manual business process.

          35. The compliance activities for the Employment Income Matching initiative activity was targeted at the 2010–11, 2011–12 and 2012–13 financial years. These are the same financial years that were previously targeted through earlier compliance measures and business-as-usual activity.63

          36. Human Services reported completing 101 563 activities for the measure, 17 563 more than the measure review target of 84 000 activities. However, as outlined in Table A.15, data provided by Human Services shows that significantly more staffing resources were used to achieve these additional activities.

          Table A.15: Comparison between costed and actual full-time equivalent staffing resourcing for Employment Income Matching

          Year

          Allocated FTE

          Actual FTE

          2015–16

          254.2

          368.8a

               

          Note a: Human Services advised the ANAO that the activity for this measure addresses the risk of employment income and is one of a number of compliance controls that are used to manage this risk. As this activity was delivered as a part of broader activity managing the employment income risk the specific FTE cannot be isolated. Human Services; however, provided the ANAO with an estimate of the actual FTE derived by comparing the difference between the FTE for compliance activity associated with Earned Income in the 2014–15 financial year (pre-budget measure) and the 2015–16 financial year.

          Source: Human Services’ data.

          37. As Human Services used significantly greater staffing resources than provided in the Budget to achieve the additional activity completed for this measure, the ANAO considered the activities completed above the measure target activities (and their corresponding savings) were contributions towards the achievement of Human Services’ broader compliance program, rather than the measure. The 84 000 activities that were resourced through the compliance measure do contribute towards the measure’s savings achievements. Table A.16 shows the number of activities completed as part of the measure initiative and the number of activities completed as part of the broader compliance program.

          Table A.16: Comparison between target and completed compliance activities for the Employment Income Matching initiative for 2015–16

           

          2015–16

          Total activity target

          86 241

          • Business-as-usual activity agreed

          2241

          • Measure activity target

          84 000

          Total activities completed

          101 563

          • Business-as-usual activities completed

          17 563

          • Measure activities completed

          84 000

          Difference between measure activity target and measure activities completed

          0

          target met

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          38. Table A.17 shows, based on ANAO’s analysis of savings, the 84 000 activities completed for the Employment Income Matching initiative achieved an estimated $331.18 million in gross fiscal balance savings in the first year of the measure—$2.08 million above the measure target. If the total 101 563 activities completed were to be counted toward the savings target, the Employment Income Matching initiative achieved $400.42 million in gross fiscal balance savings in the first year of the measure—$71.32 million above the target.

          Table A.17: Comparison between target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the Employment Income Matching initiative for 2015–16

           

          Total ($million)

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $329.10

          Actual gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $331.18

          Difference between target and actual savings

          $2.08

          over target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments—AUSTRAC

          39. The AUSTRAC initiative aims to introduce an automated data match with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre to supplement Human Services’ existing data acquisition and sharing arrangements. The initiative is expected to return $53 million in gross fiscal balance savings to government over the forward estimates, with $3.03 million gross fiscal balance savings to be delivered in the first year. To achieve these savings Human Services was to complete 5000 serious non-compliance activities and investigations over the four years of the measure, with 626 activities to be completed in 2015–16.

          40. The AUSTRAC initiative did not meet the number of compliance activities for the first year of the measure, completing only 287 compliance activities, less than half the target of 626 compliance activities. Table A.18 compares the 2015–16 target and completed activities for this initiative.

          Table A.18: Comparison between target and completed compliance activities for the AUSTRAC initiative for 2015–16

           

          2015–16

          Total activity target

          626

          • Business-as-usual activity agreed

          0

          • Measure activity target

          626

          Total activities completed

          287

          • Business-as-usual activities completed

          0

          • Measure activities completed

          287

          Difference between measure activity target and measure activities completed

          (339)

          under target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of Human Services’ data.

          41. In 2015–16, the AUSTRAC initiative achieved significantly more than the 2015–16 target of $4.57 million in gross fiscal balance savings—achieving $7.6 million. Table A. 19 compares the targeted and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the AUSTRAC initiative for the 2015–16 financial year.

          Table A.19: Comparison between target and achieved gross fiscal balance savings for the AUSTRAC initiative for 2015–16

           

          Total ($million)

          Target gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $3.03

          Actual gross savings—in fiscal balance terms

          $7.60

          Difference between target and actual savings

          $4.57

          over target

             

          Source: ANAO analysis of DSS’ and Human Services’ data.

          Appendix 4 ANAO methodology for calculating compliance measure achievements

          1. Where the relevant Budget measure set out that a level of compliance activity (and, therefore, the associated savings) were expected to be additional to Human Services’ business-as-usual compliance activities, the ANAO sought to calculate—and differentiate between—the selected outcomes (activity levels and savings) that should be attributed to Human Services’ business-as-usual compliance activities from those selected outcomes (activity levels and savings) that can be attributed to the relevant measure.

          2. In doing so, the ANAO firstly calculated—and attributed—relevant outcomes achieved against Human Services’ agreed level of business-as-usual activities; the remaining outcomes (activity levels and associated savings) were then attributed to the relevant compliance measure.

          Data sources

          3. Where applicable, the data for agreed level of business-as-usual activities for each measure was sourced from either: the New Policy Proposals (NPPs) from the relevant Budget process; or Human Services’ annual Compliance Programme (where not separately specified in the NPP).

          4. Where no business-as-usual activity levels were agreed, including for those measures where the compliance activity was new and/or represented a new process to address an identified risk, the ANAO adopted ‘0’ or nil as the agreed level of business-as-usual activity.

          5. The source for all measure targets—both activity levels and savings—was from the relevant Budget documentation, with the exception of the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, where the proposal outlined the total compliance activities for the measure period. For the initiatives assessed under this measure, the ANAO assessed the 2015–16 achievements for the two projects against the activity targets outlined in Employment Income Matching and AUSTRAC Project Plans.

          6. Human Services’ data on the total number of completed compliance reviews, for the purposes of the relevant measure and business-as-usual activity, was used.

          7. DSS advice on savings for each measure, based on established methodology and use of Human Services’ advice on relevant measure activity levels, were used.

          Calculating the total additional activities completed for each measure

          8. The following formula was used to calculate the compliance activities attributable to each of the measures.

          Step 1: Number of completed compliance reviews (by measure) plus number of completed business-as-usual reviews equals Total compliance review activities.

          Step 2: Total compliance review activities less target for business-as-usual reviews equals ANAO assessment of measure activities completed.

          Calculation of compliance measure savings achievement

          9. The following formula was used to calculate the savings attributable to each of the measures.

          Step 1: Calculate the average savings per completed review, by measure: Divide the total value of measure savings (DSS advice) by the total number of compliance reviews (Human Services’ data) for each measure, equals average savings per completed review, by measure.

          Step 2: Calculate the savings attributable to each measure: Multiply the average savings per completed review, by measure, by the ANAO assessment of new measure activities completed, equals savings attributable to each measure.

          Footnotes

          1 In this context, savings from the compliance measures comprise both ‘fiscal balance’ savings and ‘underlying cash balance’ savings. Fiscal balance savings comprise estimated amounts owing to the Government (debts raised) plus any payment reductions resulting from compliance activities (payment reductions can arise when a recipient’s fortnightly payment is cancelled or varied). Underlying cash balance savings comprise payment reductions plus debts recovered.

          2 These specific Budget-funded fraud prevention and compliance measures are generally referred to as ‘compliance measures’ or ‘measures’ throughout this report.

          3 During this period, Human Services was in parallel implementing three earlier Budget measures.

          4 In this context, savings from the compliance measures comprise both ‘fiscal balance’ savings and ‘underlying cash balance’ savings. Fiscal balance savings comprise estimated amounts owing to the Government (debts raised) plus any ‘reductions to payment’ resulting from compliance activities. Savings from reductions to payment can arise when a recipient’s fortnightly payment is cancelled or the payment amount is varied. Underlying cash balance savings comprise payment reductions plus debts recovered.

          5 At the time of the 2012–13 and 2013–14 Budget, the relevant policy entities were: the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA); the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; and the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. Following machinery of government changes in September 2013, DSS assumed responsibility for the relevant policy and Administered appropriations for these compliance measures.

          6 The current BMA was signed on 22 October 2014. Following the machinery of government changes in September 2013, the current BMA superseded a previous arrangement between Human Services and the then Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).

          7 Following the machinery of government changes in September 2013, FaHCSIA was re-named the Department of Social Services (DSS). In the following chapters, references to DSS refer to both DSS and the former FaHCSIA, as well as the relevant areas transferred into DSS in the 2013 machinery of government changes.

          8 DSS was responsible for calculating the majority of the expected savings for the compliance measures in the scope of this audit.

          9 Activities refer to a range of compliance interventions completed for Budget measures, including investigation referrals and compliance reviews.

          10 Human Services developed the compliance activity assumptions for all measures in the scope of this audit, except the assumptions for the Accelerated real estate review cycle measure, which were developed by DSS.

          11 These shortcomings are consistent with findings from the ANAO’s audit of the Australian Taxation Office’s implementation of compliance measures. See ANAO Audit Report No. 15 of 2016–17 Meeting Revenue Commitments from Compliance Measures, paragraph 2.11.

          12 See Footnote 4.

          13 See also ANAO Audit Report No. 15 of 2016-17 Meeting Revenue Commitments from Compliance Measures, paragraph 2.7.

          14 This can, for example, be due to: an amendment to the debt following an objection and review of the debt; a debt being waived; or a person not being able to pay the amount of the debt within the specified timeframe.

          15 Indexation is based on either the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) index, depending on payment type. At the time the compliance measures were costed, interest was not applied to income support payment debts. In September 2016, the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Act 2016 came into force. This Act amended the Social Security Act 1991 to apply an interest charge to outstanding debts owed by former recipients of social welfare payments who have failed to enter into, or have not complied with, an acceptable repayment arrangement.

          16 This included: a statement of the measure’s objective; governance arrangements for the measure; a summary of key risks to the measure; and reporting mechanisms for the measures— including the frequency and type of reporting required.

          17 See Footnote 4.

          18 For all measures, except for the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure, all three types of savings were included in the measure costings. As the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure focussed on recovery of debt, all expected savings from this measure were derived solely from debt recovery efforts.

          19 There are three different calculators used by Human Services: the calculator used to determine estimated savings for payments previously administered by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations; the calculator used to determine estimated savings (underlying cash only) for payments previously administered by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA); and a calculator—modified by Human Services—to calculate estimated Fiscal Balance Savings for FaHCSIA (now DSS) Administered payments.

          20 For further information on reporting to the Minister, see paragraph 3.46.

          21 This issue was also raised in a previous ANAO performance audit of Human Services. See ANAO Audit Report No.26 2013–14 Medicare Compliance Audits, pp. 77-78. See also ANAO Audit Report No. 15 of 2016–17 Meeting Revenue Commitments from Compliance Measures, paragraph 3.15.

          22 For the Increased recovery of high value non-current customer debt measure, Human Services used a spreadsheet to calculate the debts recovered that could be attributed to the measure.

          23 See paragraphs 3.47 to 3.51 for further discussion on the SFNC Performance Report.

          24 The extent to which project expenses are monitored is determined by Human Services’ categorisation of internal projects as ‘financially simplified’ or ‘financially complex’. Financially complex projects are managed within Human Services’ central finance structure and financially simplified project budgets are allocated to the relevant branches within the department, and form part of the business-as-usual budgets as one-off adjustments. Human Services advised the ANAO that because the funding for all measures (except the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure) were classified as ‘financially simplified’, (separate) expenditure against these measures was not able to be captured.

          25 Where the department has a methodology in place for reporting on a broader component of compliance work relating to a specific measure, the department should be able to reasonably estimate the costs for the measure. For example, Human Services has in place a methodology for reporting on costs associated with the broader Data-Matching Program in which the Increase in compliance review activity measure is included.

          See also ANAO Audit Report 15 of 2016–17 Meeting Revenue Commitments from Compliance Measures, paragraph 3.12.

          26 This could include: comparisons between the average cost of measure-related and business-as-usual funded activities; rates of return on investment; and comparisons between different compliance activities.

          27 The Project Board’s role includes: making key decisions required to resolve issues impacting the project; providing strategic advice and guidance; and approving changes to a project’s scope, cost or schedule.

          28 The project tolerances consist of a series of thresholds for the following aspects of the project: overall health; budget; schedule; scope; risk; issues; resources and staffing; benefits; and quality. The PSRs contain traffic light ratings against individual aspects of the project as well as an overall project status.

          29 The sample consisted of the June reports from relevant financial years for each compliance measure. For the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, the ANAO reviewed the PSRs for the Employment Income Matching and AUSTRAC projects.

          30 The ANAO was unable to determine the methodology Human Services used to estimate the savings achieved for some of the compliance measures in the PSRs. See paragraphs 3.8 to 3.13 further discussion on Human Services monitoring of savings achieved.

          31 The AVO was a business unit within the Australian Taxation Office. The Australian Government announced in January 2014 that the AVO would close in June 2014, as the AVO’s revenue declined sharply due to technological changes in the valuation industry and government departments decreasing their use of the AVO’s services. In particular, Human Services—as the largest Australian Government customer for AVO services—decided to cease its arrangements with the AVO effective from June 2014.

          32 In addition to the compliance measures within the scope of this audit, there have been four compliance measures with the prefix ‘Fraud Prevention and Compliance’ (with savings attributable across the forward estimates) since 2011–12. Further, six ‘Fraud and compliance’ measures were announced between 2009–10 and 2011–12 (with savings attributable across the forward estimates). Human Services advised the ANAO that, in 2014–15, another measure—the 2011–12 Early Intervention to Prevent Debts for Customers Commencing Workforce Participation—was also included in reporting against the KPI.

          33 Human Services’ internal calculations of the fiscal balance savings achieved for the 2015–16 KPI on the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure were an aggregate of all the initiatives under the measure.

          34 As of September 2016, Human Services had continued to provide monthly reports to its Minister.

          35 As discussed in paragraphs 3.9 to 3.10, the ANAO found limitations on the accuracy of the methodology used to calculate the gross fiscal savings reported to the Minister, and that these varied to the savings calculations made by DSS.

          36 The report also provided specific detail on four Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments initiatives: Employment Income Matching; Taskforce Integrity; AUSTRAC; and Strengthening Obligations for Students.

          37 The 2013–14 and 2015–16 measures considered in this audit did not have specific requirements to report back on progress of the measures.

          38 At the time the 2012–13 compliance measures were agreed, Human Services provided an annual SFNC performance report to the Government. The report outlined the compliance priorities for the Australian Government’s social, health, welfare and child support payments system for the coming financial year, including the department’s strategies and activities to address identified areas of risk. The performance report provided the Government with the compliance performance for the previous year. The Strategic Partnership Interdepartmental Committee oversighted the achievement of the SFNC agenda.

          39 Entities that Human Services advised of this decision were the: Department of Veterans’ Affairs; DSS; and Department of Health.

          40 The ANAO has previously identified Human Services’ failure to report back to Government, when required, on outcomes achieved from selected Budget measures. See ANAO Report No.26 2013–14 Medicare Compliance Audits, pp. 19 and 76.

          41 Fiscal and underlying cash savings are defined in Footnote 4.

          42 For the Strengthening the Integrity of Welfare Payments measure, the business-as-usual and measure activity levels for the Employment Income Matching initiative were specifically noted in the Compliance Programme.

          43 See Appendix 3 for further details.

          44 The Project Business Case for the Increase compliance for customers with earned income measure stated that the measure would provide the department with the capability to manage the program risk associated with the 2010–11 financial year, as the compliance activities in that year were interrupted by the Government’s response to natural disasters.

          45 See Appendix 3, from paragraph 5.

          46 Human Services advised the ANAO that: ‘The methodology used to calculate underlying cash savings is owned by DSS and agreed by Government. Underlying cash is; however, not a publicly disclosed figure and as such is not measured by [Human Services] to determine Budget measure achievement.’

          47 Factors that impacted on the achievements of individual measures are outlined at Appendix 3.

          48 As noted in paragraph 3.45, Human Services’ reporting to its Minister on implementation and outcomes from these compliance measures was ad hoc.

          49 Human Services’ project management framework categorises projects as being Tier 1, 2 or 3. A Tier 1 project is considered the highest strategic importance, highest risk, greatest difficulty, longest duration and largest budget; a Tier 2 project is considered to be of medium complexity; and a Tier 3 project is considered to be the least complex.

          50 The Human Services Project Management Framework outlined the PIR as a key document in the ‘close phase’ of a project.

          51 As discussed in paragraph 2.5 to 2.7, savings targets for compliance measures are derived from assumptions developed by Human Services about the likely average values of debts raised, fortnightly payment reductions that will be achieved and the number of activities that will be completed for a measure.

          52 These areas included: lower outcomes achieved than expected; case selection; and workload management.

          53 The four measures were: Accelerated real estate review cycle; Increase in compliance review activity; Increased compliance for international risk; and Increase compliance for customers with earned income. Human Services advised the ANAO that the remaining two closure reports were in progress.

          54 The closure reports for two of the measures—Accelerated real estate review cycle and Increased compliance for international risk—also provided an explanation of some of the factors that prevented the measures from achieving expected outcomes.

          55 The under achievement for the Increased compliance for international risk measure was in terms of savings achievements and the Increase in compliance review activity was not meeting its compliance review target.

          56 The budgeted cost of a measure may not be the same as the additional funding provided in the Budget, where Human Services may have been required to absorb part of the costs.

          57 See also ANAO Audit Report 15 of 2016-17 Meeting Revenue Commitments from Compliance Measures, paragraph 3.20.

          58 As this measure targets incorrect asset (investment property) values, non-asset tested customers are less likely to result in a reduction outcome.

          59 In assessing the level of compliance activities for the 2012–13 Increase in compliance review activity measure (see Table A.3), the ANAO instead used the 30 000 business-as-usual activity target as outlined in the New Policy Proposal.

          60 Human Services further advised that a risk classification of ‘no risk applied’ can occur when a secondary review is initiated as a result of information linked to the initial review. Human Services also advised that the risk rating of compliance reviews is a manual process, which can be subject to human error, where cases can be initiated without a risk rating applied manually and for this reason, risk ratings are used as a guide to the type of reviews being completed.

          61 As this compliance measure focuses on the recovery of debts already raised, there were no fiscal balance savings, as the fiscal impact would have been realised in the financial year in which the debts were raised.

          62 In order to achieve the net fiscal balance savings, the savings achieved by Human Services would need to account for the costs of implementing the measure. Therefore, gross fiscal balance savings is a more appropriate target against which to monitor savings achieved.

          63 For example: the 2013–14 Increase compliance for customers with earned income measure was to focus on the PAYG file for the 2010–11 financial year; business-as-usual compliance activity planned for 2013–14 was to focus on the 2012–13 PAYG file; and the 2014–15 Fraud Prevention and Compliance - Increase Compliance of Customers with Earned Income measure (announced in the August 2013 Economic Outlook) was to focus on the 2012–13 and 2013–14 PAYG files.

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