ANAO warns of
The tightening fiscal outlook for all Government Agencies is likely to see the Australian National Audit Office pare back its investigations, the ANAO’s annual report says.
The report says that while it was expected audit coverage would remain unchanged in the current financial year, the outlook after that was challenging.
Auditor-General, Ian McPhee said that in the absence of additional funding in forward years the ANAO would need to consider a reduction in the numbers of audits and other activities undertaken.
“The passage of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 and the development of associated rules was expected to lead to changes in the financial framework from July 2014,” Mr McPhee said.
“There will be a need to stay abreast of these changes and plan for the consequences for the work of the ANAO.”
He said a strategic statement had been drawn up which reflected the four key focus areas and the values that will shape the achievement of the office’s goals and continue to strengthen the standing of the office in pursuit of its vision.
These were: independent and responsive; value-adding audit services; capability to deliver world-class services; confidence in the delivery of services.
Mr McPhee said work by the ANAO over the past year had had an impact on many areas of public administration and continued to stimulate improvement in public administration.
“In particular, we made a strong contribution in encouraging better performance in relation to: defence procurement, grants administration, the adoption and monitoring of key performance indicators and the integrity of financial systems.”
“We are observing an increase in the joined-up nature of public administration, which requires Australian Government Agencies to work with other Agencies at the Commonwealth, State and Territory levels to pursue common policy objectives.”
He said approaches to financial statement and performance auditing had been adjusted to take account of these developments as well as the ANAO’s statutory mandate.
Mr McPhee said that in 2011-12, amendments to the Auditor-General Act 1997 saw the most significant changes to the ANAO’s legislative framework since the office was given the performance audit mandate in 1979.
“One major change gave the Auditor-General the authority to audit Commonwealth partners when requested to do so by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit,” he said.
“Often called ‘follow-the-money audits’, such audits may examine the performance of State or Territory bodies, or contractors to Commonwealth entities, that receive money for Commonwealth purposes.”
Mr McPhee said the ANAO also participated with the Auditors-General of most States and Territories in the first ‘concurrent audit’, whereby each of the jurisdictions conducted an audit of aspects of the implementation of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.
He said that in 2012-13 the ANAO provided an opportunity for the public to contribute to its work by piloting a citizen’s input facility on the officer’s website.
“This allowed members of the public to contribute information for consideration during the evidence-collection stages of selected performance audits,” the Auditor-General said.
“Based on the successful outcomes of the pilot, I have decided to retain the citizen’s input facility and make it a feature of all future performance audits.”
The report stated that the ANAO achieved an operating surplus for 2012-13.
Edition 381, 1 October 2013 2013