Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 406. Updated Tuesday, 22 April 2014

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Defence admin slips in emergency role

An audit of the Defence Force's role in emergency operations for the community has found that while the activities are usually of great value to the community, internal administrative procedures left a lot to be desired.

In his report, Emergency Defence Assistance to the Civil Community, Auditor-General, Ian McPhee found the Department of Defence had established Defence Assistance to the Civil Community (DACC) procedures that were not always followed.

"Defence's emergency DACC procedures are generally effective in guiding and enabling the provision of Defence assistance in response to emergencies," Mr McPhee said.

"However, emergency DACC has been largely focused on response efforts, with less attention given to meeting the administrative requirements set out in the DACC Manual."

Audit finds reporting not a priority

When State and Territory resources were inadequate, the Australian Government could be called upon to provide assistance, and there was "regular demand" for Defence assistance, the audit found.

But effectiveness was highly dependent on the quality of relationships across the areas of Defence with emergency DACC roles, and between Defence, Emergency Management Australia and State bodies, and a "strong feedback loop" to inform future operations, Mr McPhee said.

The main focus of Defence units had been to complete tasks, and they had not prioritised reporting on tasks outside of the Service chain of command, he said.

"The failure to record key task data means that other areas of Defence responsible for emergency DACC strategy, procedures and reporting are not routinely informed about the nature, resource impact and cost," he said.

The Audit Office recommended Defence take steps to strengthen the priority afforded by Defence units to meeting mandatory reporting requirements and to review the minimum required.

The audit team was Jennifer Myles, Jed Andrews, Deanne Allan, Alex Wilkinson and Stuart Turnbull.

The full report can be viewed at this PS News link.

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