26 September 2023

Audit brings Defence investment to the ground

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A performance audit into the Department of Defence’s Integrated Investment Program (IIP) has found its administration to be ‘partly effective’.

In his report Defence’s Administration of the Integrated Investment Program, Auditor-General Grant Hehir said the IIP contained all elements of Defence investment, including new weapons, platforms, systems and enabling equipment; facilities and infrastructure; workforce; information and communications technology; and science and technology.

Mr Hehir said while Defence had established a largely effective governance, control and approval framework for the management of IIP, it had not established an effective framework to guide its public reporting on the Program.

“Defence’s management of the Program is occurring within a defined structure and at a level commensurate with its cost, importance and program risk,” Mr Hehir said.

“There is an established governance structure, an identified senior responsible officer, and a biannual process for Government consideration supported by central agency guidance and review,” he said.

“Defence also has an appropriate process for authorising the entry of projects into the Program, requiring Government agreement through the biannual process, and an appropriate process for ensuring updates and changes to the Program are approved.”

Mr Hehir said however Defence could not provide assurance over IIP broadsheet controls or content before 2021 because the broadsheets were updated manually.

He said that in 2021, Defence commenced the rollout of a systemised broadsheet to automate updates, mitigate the risk of error or unauthorised change, and improve the level of assurance it could provide over the broadsheet’s control framework and contents.

“For the two public editions of the Program published to date, there was no guidance to officials on how to report publicly, and the transparency and usability of the public editions was reduced,” the Auditor-General said.

“Defence did not establish effective systems for reconciling information in the IIP broadsheet and the public editions of the Program, and did not seek arm’s length verification that the costings included in the public editions accurately reflected the broadsheet costings.”

Mr Hehir made six recommendations aimed at improving Defence’s governance and control framework for the management of the IIP and establishing elements of a framework to support public reporting on the IIP.

The Auditor-General’s report can be accessed at this PS News link and a 74-page PDF version at this link.

The Audit team was David Rowlands, Fraser McEachan, Corné Labuschagne, Qing Xue and Sally Ramsey.

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