26 September 2023

ANAO to audit PS reports to Parliament

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Australian public sector agencies are to have their statements of performance reports to Parliament audited by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) following the success of a pilot program that started in 2019.

Announced by Auditor-General Grant Hehir, the new arrangement will see six performance statements audited this financial year increasing to 19 in 2024-25.

According to a report from the ANAO entitled Audits of the Annual Performance Statements of Australian Government Entities — Pilot Program 2020–21 the performance reporting functions and supporting systems of entities will need to mature if they are to play a more proactive role in strategic planning and reporting quality assurance performance.

“In addition, the ANAO will need to increase awareness within the sector of its methodology for conducting performance statements audits and continue to refine the methodology to enable the Auditor-General to provide the auditee with clear, concise and timely findings,” the report said.

“The Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) places explicit obligations on accountable authorities for the quality and reliability of performance information and requires Australian Government entities to report their performance to Parliament in a way that meaningfully reflects their organisation’s purpose and achievements,” the ANAO said.

“High quality performance statements enable entities to show the Parliament and the public whether policies and programs are delivering the results intended with the resources provided.”

The ANAO said the pilot program demonstrated that accessible and understandable audit conclusions can be issued that clearly set out to the user the extent to which the performance statements can be relied upon to assess the performance of the entity.

The report said the pilot program found and recommended five audit themes.

These were:

* Entities clearly set out the proportion of targets that must be met for a composite measure to be considered achieved;

* Measures based on case studies and surveys be supported by a clear methodology;

* Measures focused on what entities did to enable output wouldn’t meet the intent of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013 rule if they were assessed as ‘input’ or ‘activity’;

* Ensure there were appropriate disclosures in the performance statements; and

* Ensure processes were in place to keep records and provide assurance over the systems and sources that informed performance results.

The 65-page ANAO report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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