House of Representatives Committees

| Parliamentary Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit

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Preliminary pages

Foreword

I am pleased to present the 2011–12 annual report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA). This annual report is issued pursuant to section 8B of the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951. Tabling of the annual report is both an important accountability mechanism and a mark in history setting out the various operations of the Committee over time.

The JCPAA’s activities throughout 2011–12 were guided by the Committee’s broad set of duties, which include:

New responsibilities

In the course of the last year, the Committee was delegated significant new responsibilities with the establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). Its first role in this regard was approving the appointment of the inaugural Parliamentary Budget Officer.

The appointment of the right person to establish and lead the PBO was of the utmost importance to the Committee. Noting that a thorough and transparent appointment process had been undertaken by the Parliamentary Service Commissioner, and after meeting with Mr Phil Bowen, the Committee unanimously agreed to his appointment.

Release of major report on National Funding Agreements

Another achievement was the completion and publication of the Committee’s report on the inquiry into National Funding Agreements. The report highlighted the lack of parliamentary scrutiny for the billions expended under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations framework, as well as issues with performance reporting. The Committee made 15 recommendations to address issues surrounding agreement implementation and to ensure the full potential of the framework is realised, including:

The Government response, tabled in August 2012, agreed with five recommendations, but noted eight and disagreed with two of the recommendations. The Committee is still considering the adequacy of the Government’s response.

Ongoing review of Auditor-General’s reports

The JCPAA continued its ongoing examination of ANAO reports, reviewing 74 of the Auditor-General’s reports. Out of these, the Committee undertook:

Sound key performance indicators are integral to ensuring accountability, but the Committee noted many agencies struggling to develop meaningful and measurable KPIs. Over the next twelve months the Committee will be looking to see whether the Auditor-General’s new powers to assess KPIs contribute to an improvement in the Government’s overall KPI framework.

In terms of grant administration, the Committee raised concerns about the transparency of decision-making processes and the quality of support offered to Government ministers. The Committee also uncovered examples of confusion and oversight errors in grant reporting.

The JCPAA’s ongoing interest in government procurement led to the selection of two key audit reports for further review: one examining a major Government tender; and another looking at procurement panels. A key lesson for Australian Government agencies is the importance of clarity around decision-making, particularly for tenders involving multiple ministers or departments. Agencies also need to reassess any procurement arrangements in place to ensure that they continue to achieve the best value possible.

Increased transparency

The Committee continues to look for ways to maximise openness and transparency. We opened up the JCPAA’s 2011 meeting with the Tax Commissioner to the public, and invited external stakeholders to assist in scrutiny of the Australian Tax Office.

This year, the annual meeting with the heads of key agencies responsible for public sector governance and administration was also run as a public hearing. The meeting provided the Committee with an opportunity to discuss whole-of-government issues and trends, review the overall performance of the APS, and ask questions about the 2011-12 Annual Report Requirements for Commonwealth Agencies. The Committee’s report included suggestions to improve the accessibility of information, thereby assisting parliamentarians and the public in assessing the performance of the APS.

Other activities and comments

The 2011-12 year has also seen us focus on promoting engagement through multiple forums. At the 2012 Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committee (ACPAC) meeting, we offered to build and host a website for ACPAC members to assist with coordination and information sharing. We have also been working with the ANAO and regional parliaments on capacity building through secondments for the staff of the Indonesian and Papua New Guinea public accounts committee equivalents.

I thank all members of the JCPAA for the ongoing commitment to the Committee’s mandate, putting aside politics in the scrutiny of the use of public resources. In the coming year we look forward to celebrating 100 years of the Commonwealth public accounts committee. We will also be continuing to seek opportunities to add to the integrity and transparency of Australian Government agencies’ decisions and actions in relation to expenditure of public monies.

Robert Oakeshott MP
Chair

Membership of the Committee

Chair

Mr Robert Oakeshott MP

 

Deputy Chair

Ms Yvette D’Ath MP

 

Members

Hon Dick Adams MP

Senator Mark Bishop

 

Mr Jamie Briggs MP

Senator Glenn Sterle (26/10/10–07/02/12)

 

Ms Gai Brodtmann MP

Senator Helen Kroger (30/09/10–12/09/12)

 

Mr Darren Cheeseman MP

Senator Louise Pratt (from 27/06/12)

 

Mr Josh Frydenberg MP

Senator Anne Ruston (from 13/09/12)

 

Ms Deborah O’Neill MP

Senator Dean Smith (from 9/05/12)

 

Ms Laura Smyth MP

Senator Nick Sherry (7/02/12–1/06/12)

 

Hon Alex Somlyay MP

Senator Matt Thistlethwaite

Committee Secretariat

Secretary

Mr David Brunoro                           

Inquiry Secretaries

Dr Narelle McGlusky (until 20/04/12)

 

Ms Vikki Darrough (from 8/08/11)

A/g Inquiry Secretary

Mr James Nelson (from 28/05/12)

Research Officers

Ms Lynette Mollard (until 20/01/12)

  Mr Shane Armstrong (from 6/02/12)
Administrative Officers Ms Dorota Cooley (until 20/07/12)
  Ms Louise Goss (from 14/11/11)

List of abbreviations

ACPAC

Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committees

ANAO

Australian National Audit Office

APS

Australian Public Service

ATO

Australian Taxation Office

BAKN

Audit Committee of the Indonesian Parliament

BPK

Indonesian Audit Office

DMO

Defence Materiel Organisation

FMA Act

Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997

JCPAA

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

MPR

Major Projects Report

PAAC Act

Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951

PACs

Public Accounts Committees

PBO

Parliamentary Budget Office

PNG

Papua New Guinea

OECD

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

                                                               

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