Chapter 2 Summary of activities for 2010-11
The following section details the activities of the Committee for
n tabled Committee reports;
n other major Committee
n inquiries in progress
(as at 30 June 2011).
Tabled Committee reports
Reviews of Auditor-General reports
In December 2010, the Committee tabled a report
reviewing in detail nine Auditor‑General’s reports.
The audit reports reviewed covered a wide range of programs and agencies, these
n Administration of
Grants by the National Health and Medical Research Council (Audit Report
No. 07 2009-10);
n The Australian
Taxation Office’s Implementation of the Change Program: a strategic overview (Audit
Report No. 08 2009-10);
n Processing of
Incoming International Air Passengers (Audit Report No. 10 2009-10);
Management of the Expanding Australian Aid Program (Audit Report No. 15
n The National
Broadband Network Request for Proposal Process (Audit Report No. 20
n Administration of
Climate Change Programs (Audit Report No. 26 2009‑10);
n Coordination and
Reporting of Australia’s Climate Change Measures (Audit Report No. 27
n Management of the
AusLink Roads to Recovery Program (Audit Report No. 31 2009-10); and
n Building the
Education Revolution – Primary Schools for the 21st Century (Audit Report
No. 33 2009-10).
The report contained four recommendations directed to the relevant
As at 30 June 2011, the Committee was finalising its review of the 26
Auditor‑General’s reports tabled between May and November 2010. The
Committee selected five reports for further scrutiny at public hearings
conducted in March 2011. The audit reports examined were:
n Conduct by
Infrastructure Australia of the First National Infrastructure Audit and
Development of the Infrastructure Priority List (Audit Report No. 02
n The Establishment,
Implementation and Administration of the Strategic Projects Component of the
Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program (Audit Report No. 03
n Green Loans
Program (Audit Report No. 09 2010-11);
n Direct Source
Procurement (Audit Report No. 11 2010-11);
n Home Insulation
Program (Audit Report No. 12 2010-11).
The report completing this review was tabled in July 2011 and contained
four recommendations, with the majority addressing issues raised through the
Committee’s examination of the direct source procurement audit.
Reviews of Major Projects Reports
In May 2011, the Committee tabled its review of the third ANAO/Defence
Materiel Organisation “Major Projects Report” (MPR) 2009-10.
The Committee’s report incorporated ongoing issues raised as part of the review
of the pilot 2007‑08 MPR, and also provided discussion on the
Auditor-General’s major findings in relation to the 2008-09 MPR.
As part of its inquiry into the 2009-10 MPR, the Committee received four
submissions and held a public hearing, with evidence given by representatives
from the ANAO and the Defence Materiel Organisation.
The report contained nine recommendations that included: further
development to the Major Projects Report Work Program; enhancements to the
presentation of project level data in the report; and additional analysis to be
provided to the Committee to inform future improvements.
Policy inquiry reports
The Committee completed two major policy inquiries in 2010-11. These
were its inquiry into the Auditor-General’s role in scrutinising government
advertising and review of the Auditor-General Act 1997.
In conducting the inquiry of the Auditor-General’s role in government
advertising, the Committee received 26 submissions and held eight public
hearings with oral evidence provided by 23 witnesses. While this inquiry began
in the 42nd Parliament, it was resumed by the JCPAA in the 43rd
Parliament and a subsequent report was released in March 2011 containing one
recommendation. The Government’s response
to the recommendation is due by September 2011.
For its inquiry into the Auditor-General Act 1997, the Committee
received 19 submissions and held four public hearings with oral evidence
provided by witnesses from three separate agencies/bodies. The Committee tabled
a report in December 2011 which contained 13 recommendations. Recommendations
included to: enhance the Auditor-General’s role in ‘reviewing the adequacy of
agencies’ performance indicators’; and giving the Auditor-General the
‘authority to follow the dollar’.
A Private Members Bill has been introduced into Parliament by the
current Chair of the Committee, Mr Oakeshott which reflects the report’s
In July 2011, the Committee also issued a report Eighth biannual
hearing with the Commissioner of Taxation. This report was based on the
evidence presented in the eighth biannual hearing in March 2011, and
submissions received from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
The report addressed four key themes the Committee considers important regarding
administration of the ATO: service standards; compliance; policy development;
and external scrutiny.
The Committee made nine recommendations to the ATO across these areas
n enhanced reporting
against the ATO’s Service Standards; and
n reporting to the
JCPAA on complaints handling and compliance activities and the ATO’s responses
to recommendations made by external scrutiny bodies such as the ANAO.
Other major Committee activities
Audit priorities of the Parliament
In April 2011, the Committee received the ANAO’s draft audit work
program for 2011-12. The JCPAA forwarded the draft program to all other
parliamentary committees, in order to assist it in determining the audit
priorities of the Parliament.
Following the JCPAA’s deliberations and other committees’ responses, the
JCPAA suggested the following priorities, drawn from the Auditor‑General’s
proposed work program:
n Detention Centres—Quality
of Service and Contract Management.
n Project Overlander—LAND
n Deployment and
Management of Australia-based Staff Overseas and Business Continuity Management
at Overseas Missions;
n Live Animal Exports;
n Management of Aid to
n Management of the
Delivery of Aid through partner Government Systems.
Further, the JCPAA expressed support for audits to cover the following
n Performance Reporting
against the New Financial Framework;
n Freedom of
n Internal Audit; and
Statement on draft estimates for the ANAO
In February 2011, the JCPAA received the ANAO’s 2011-2012 budget
estimates, and were briefed by the Auditor-General in March 2011. On budget day
the Chair of the Committee made a statement to the House on the adequacy of the
ANAO’s appropriation with a corresponding
statement later delivered in the Senate.
On behalf of the Committee, the Chair noted the Auditor-General’s advice
that while the ANAO faced a number of cost pressures the Auditor‑General
was ‘conscious of the overall pressures on the Government’s budget’. In
summary, the Auditor-General advised that the appropriation for the year ahead
would be sufficient to ‘discharge his statutory obligations and planned audit
work plan for 2011-12’.
With this opinion, the Committee endorsed the proposed budget for the
ANAO. The Chair also noted however, that based on the Auditor‑General’s
advice regarding the impact of potential amendments to the Auditor-General
Act 1997, the Committee would expect the Auditor‑General to seek additional
budget supplementation in the proceeding financial year, to cover the ANAO’s
Annual report requirements for Commonwealth agencies
The 2010-11 Requirements for Annual Reports for Departments,
Executive Agencies and Financial Management and Accountability Act (FMA Act)
Bodies was approved by the Committee on 8 July 2011. These Requirements
included three significant amendments from the previous year, which related to:
the Commonwealth Disability Strategy (CDS); social inclusion reporting; and
Freedom of Information. For example,
Commonwealth agencies and Financial Management and Accountability Act
bodies are no longer required to report in detail on the implementation of the
CDS in their annual reports, due to the coverage of the CDS under the broader
goals of the National Disability Strategy.
Briefing on public sector governance issues
In recent years, the Committee has set-up private briefings with key
representatives from the Australian Public Service (APS) to help inform the
Committee of the latest initiatives and/or reforms to drive improvements within
the public service. Generally these briefings are attended by the Australian
Public Service Commissioner, who plays a central role in evaluating the
performance of the APS and helping to build its capability, along with the
Secretaries’ of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department
of Finance and Deregulation, and the Auditor-General.
The last meeting was held in August 2009. No briefing occurred in 2010,
but one had been scheduled for August 2011.
Engagement with the Independent Auditor
In its role overseeing the ANAO, the Committee also engages with the
Independent Auditor of the ANAO. In doing so, the Committee can inform the
Independent Auditor of the Parliament’s priorities for future audits of the
ANAO. At times, the JCPAA also examines the Independent Auditor’s reports of
The eighth review by an independent auditor into the ANAO, Planning
and Scoping of Performance Audits by the Australian National Audit Office,
was presented to the Parliament in June 2011. This was undertaken by the
current Independent Auditor of the ANAO, Mr Geoff Wilson (Chief Executive Officer
of KPMG Australia) who has been responsible for the last three performance
audits of the ANAO.
The audit’s objective was to consider the process for planning and
scoping performance audits within the ANAO. The audit found that these
activities both at the annual performance audit program level and the
individual performance audit level were being undertaken in an ‘efficient and
effective manner’ and did not include any
formal recommendations. The report did, however, identify suggested
improvements at the individual audit planning and scoping level.
Engagement with other parliaments and organisations
The Committee seeks to disseminate information on its role and
activities and to contribute where it can to enhancing public sector
accountability. Accordingly, the Committee’s Chair and secretariat endeavour to
make presentations to seminars and visiting delegations where relevant.
In April 2011, the Committee’s Deputy Chair, Mrs Yvette D’Ath gave an
update at the Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committee’s (ACPAC) 11th
Biennial conference in Perth on the work of the Committee since the last conference.
The Deputy Chair also represented the Committee at the ACPAC 2011 Council
meeting, held concurrently with the conference.
Inquiries in progress (as at 30 June 2011)
As at 30 June 2011, the Committee continued its reviews of Auditor‑General
reports, in addition to a policy inquiry into National Funding Agreements.
Review of the Auditor-General’s reports
As at 30 June 2011, the Committee was reviewing the following four
n Audits of the
Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the Period Ended 30
June 2010 (Audit Report No. 22 2010-11);
n Digital Education
Revolution Program – National Secondary Schools Computer Fund (Audit Report
No. 30 2010-11);
n Maintenance of the
Defence Estate (Audit Report No. 41 2010-11); and
n Management of
Student Visas (Audit Report No. 46 2010-11).
These were selected from 31 audit reports presented to the Parliament
between November 2010 and May 2011. A report completing the review of these
reports is expected to table late in 2011.
Policy inquiry: National Funding Agreements
In February 2011, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
commenced a review of the operation of funding agreements between the
Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments, including the National Agreements
entered into under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial
Relations. The inquiry addresses four terms of reference.
The Committee took evidence at one public hearing in 2010-11 (with additional
public hearings scheduled for the remainder of 2011). Eleven submissions had
been received as at 30 June 2011. Witnesses included representatives from various
stakeholders including the Auditor-General, the National Disability Services
ACT and the Independent Schools Council of Australia. The inquiry is likely to
be completed and a report tabled by the Committee in late 2011.
Robert Oakeshott MP