House of Representatives Committees

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

Inquiry into the Review of the Accrual Budget Documentation

Review of the Accrual Budget Documentation

List of recommendations

Recommendation 1

Agencies with a shared outcome should:

  • identify the shared outcome and the contribution of other agencies in achieving that outcome in their PBS and annual report;

  • determine a lead agency with prime responsibility for that outcome; and

  • consider entering into memoranda of understanding with the other agencies to clarify the responsibilities of each agency in achieving the shared outcome.

Recommendation 2

The annual reporting requirements should be amended to require agency annual reports to be tabled by 30 September.

Recommendation 3

Agency outcomes statements should be written in clear simple English language to allow for greater transparency.

Recommendation 4

Agency outcome statements should:

  • completely and clearly define their key objectives to reflect the impacts Government experts from their work;

  • completely and clearly define the impacts Government expects from agency administered items; and

  • accurately articulate the purpose of the relevant appropriations under the Appropriation Acts of the Commonwealth Budget.

Recommendation 5

Agencies with a single broad ranging outcome, or with a small number of highly aggregated outcomes, should identify intermediate outcomes to indicate the shorter term objectives on the path to achieving their higher level outcomes.

Recommendation 6

Agency performance measures identified in the portfolio budget statements must always be accompanied by a comparative standard. Agencies should report their performance against this comparative standard in their annual reports, with a discussion if actual performance significantly varies from that expected.

Recommendation 7

The Department of Finance and Administration and the Australian National Audit Office should develop performance measures for the advice they provide to agencies. Performance targets should accompany those measures.

Recommendation 8

The Department of Finance and Administration should identify and report to the Minister on the risks and benefits of allowing Portfolio Ministers authority to issue amounts out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund directly rather than through the authority of the Minister for Finance. The Department should advise its Minister on the appropriateness of allowing Portfolio Ministers to exercise such an authority.

Recommendation 9

The Department of Finance and Administration should amend its guidelines to agencies so that information describing the model used for pricing outputs is included in the agency PBS.

Recommendation 10

The Department of Finance and Administration, in consultation with the Australian National Audit Office, should review ways in which agencies should disclose details of any operating surplus to output or output group level. These details should be able to be matched to the agency's audited financial statements. The Finance Minister's Orders should be amended to put into effect such a reporting requirement.

Recommendation 11

The Final Budget Outcome should be audited by the Australian National Audit Office.

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