26 September 2023

Audit finds social payments ‘partly effective’

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An audit of the timeliness in which welfare payments are paid to members of the public has been declared “partly effective” by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

In its report Accuracy and Timeliness of Welfare Payments the ANAO found that while Services Australia, an executive agency within the social services portfolio, had the task to “support Australians by efficiently delivering high-quality, accessible services and payments on behalf of the Government” the Department of Social Services was “responsible for providing welfare payments and other assistance to ‘people who cannot fully support themselves”.

“The Department’s and Services Australia’s management of the accuracy and timeliness of welfare payments has been partly effective,” the ANAO said.

“Current bilateral agreements do not adequately support oversight of payment accuracy and timeliness, and attempts to update relevant agreements have been unsuccessful to date,” it said.

“The Department’s oversight of payment accuracy and timeliness has not been proactive and strategic.”

The ANAO said that to form its conclusion it adopted “high-level criteria” including whether the Department established effective oversight arrangements for the accuracy and timeliness of Services Australia’s payment delivery; had the Department and Services Australia established effective processes for monitoring, reporting and continuously improving payment accuracy; and had they established effective processes for monitoring, reporting and continuously improving payment timeliness?

It concluded each case was “partly effective”.

The auditor made 14 recommendations of which Services Australia disagreed with one and the Department two, one of which was ‘partially agreed’.

The ANAO’s 133-page report can be accessed at this PS News link or online at this link.

The Audit Team was Daniel Whyte, Anne Kent, Ewan McPherson, James Carrington, Magdalena Carrasco, Nathan Daley, Qing Xue, Zhuo Li, Xiaoyan Lu and Alexandra Collins.

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