26 September 2023

Audit finds Councils ‘slow with reports’

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The Queensland Audit Office has found that in 2021-22, only 32 Councils achieved early financial reporting, having their financial statements certified at least two weeks before the 31 October legislative deadline.

Auditor-General, Brendan Worrall said this was important as early financial reporting meant current and relevant information was provided to decision-makers and members of the community.

“In recent years, we have found fewer Councils are planning for early completion of their financial statements,” Mr Worrall said. “This year, only 48 Councils planned to certify their financial statements early.”

“In prior years, these numbers were substantially higher (62 councils in 2020-21 and 70 councils in 2019-20).”

He said external factors such as staff shortages and natural disasters had negatively impacted on the sectors’ abilities to achieve timely financial reporting.

“However, these issues would be better managed if Councils improved the persistent issues we find in their month-end and year-end reporting processes and their asset management practices,” Mr Worrall said.

“We have made several recommendations to the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning to help build capability in the Local Government sector that will improve timely financial reporting.”

He said Councils were taking too long to resolve high-risk issues that carried substantial financial or reputational risk.

“Continued efforts by Councils have reduced the number of unresolved significant deficiencies to 114 as at 30 June 2022. However, 65 per cent of these significant deficiencies remain unresolved more than 12 months after we identified them,” the Auditor-General said.

“Many Councils with significant deficiencies do not have an audit committee or an internal audit function, which is in breach of the legislation.”

He said almost two thirds of Councils still had significant deficiencies in their information systems, at a time when cyber-attacks across the public sector kept rising.

“The Department could collaborate with other State Government Agencies and develop a framework to help Councils better manage their information systems security,” Mr Worrall said.

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