The Auditor-General received correspondence from Senator the Hon Don Farrell dated 7 November 2022, requesting that the Auditor-General conduct an investigation to examine the Parliamentary Expenses Management System project.

The Auditor-General met with Senator the Hon Don Farrell on 24 November 2022 to discuss the concerns raised in the request for audit. The request is being considered in the development of the ANAO 2022–23 Annual Audit Work Program.

The Auditor-General provided a follow-up response to Senator the Hon Don Farrell on 14 April 2023.

Auditor-General's follow-up response

14 April 2023

Senator the Hon. Don Farrell
Minister for Trade and Tourism
Special Minister of State
Senator for South Australia
By email: senator.farrell@aph.gov.au

Dear Minister

Administration of the Parliamentary Expenses Management System

Following on from my meeting with you on 24 November 2022 regarding your request that I conduct a performance audit of the Parliamentary Expenses Management System, this letter is to advise that a performance audit of the Administration of the Parliamentary Expenses Management System has now commenced.

The objective of this audit is to assess the effectiveness of the Department of Finance’s administration of the Parliamentary Expenses Management Systems project. The ANAO proposes to examine:

  • Did the Department of Finance effectively manage the Parliamentary Expenses Management System project to achieve the agreed deliverables?
  • Does the system meet the agreed deliverables, and achieve outcomes including alignment with relevant legislative requirements?

The audit is due to table in December 2023.

To receive updates on the progress of the audit, please subscribe through the following link: https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/administration-the-parliamentary-expenses-management-system.

Yours sincerely

Grant Hehir

Correspondence from Senator the Hon Don Farrell

A page of text from Senator the Hon Don Farrell. You can find a transcript of the text on this page.

Transcript of letter from Senator the Hon Don Farrell

Mr Grant Hehir
Auditor-General for Australia
GPO Box 707
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Dear Mr Hehir

In 2018, the former Government announced a transition to a digital portal for parliamentary expenses management.

Since then, the Parliamentary Expenses Management System (PEMS) has been developed by the Department of Finance. PEMS is now operational, with almost every parliamentarian and hundreds of parliamentary staff using the system to claim and manage work expenses.

During the course of the last parliamentary term, I asked a significant number of questions about this system, its functionality, user experience, cost, and implementation timelines.

Since coming to office as the Special Minister of State, I have become aware of the severity of these issues. This includes the failure of the new system to produce expenditure reports — as required by legislation.

I am in the course of working with the Department of Finance and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) to rectify this system.

However, due to both the high cost and implementation delays across this project, together with the importance of this system to the transparency and integrity of the Parliament, I would be grateful if you would consider conducting a performance audit of the PEMS project at your convenience.

I would welcome a further discussion with you to outline my concerns in more depth, including my experience with this system.

Regards

Don Farrell
7/11/22