26 September 2023

Audit finds waste in waste policy

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A performance audit into the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water’s implementation of the National Waste Policy Action Plan 2019 (NWPAP) has found it to be “partly effective”.

According to the Auditor-General, Grant Hehir, the NWPAP was agreed by Australia’s environment Ministers and Local Governments in 2019 and presents seven national targets and 80 actions to guide investment and national efforts to avoid waste.

It is to improve resource recovery to 2030, with 30 of the 80 actions led by the Federal Government.

In his report Australian Government Implementation of the National Waste Policy Action Plan, Mr Hehir said the planning and governance arrangements established for the implementation of the NWPAP were largely fit-for-purpose.

Mr Hehir said however that the effectiveness of the Department’s implementation and coordination of actions, and monitoring and reporting of progress, were reduced by a lack of agreed action scope or deliverables against which progress could be assessed.

“While progress has been made since the implementation of the previous National Waste Policy in establishing an action plan to guide the achievement of outcomes, the Department’s implementation has not yet met the intent of the action plan,” Mr Hehir said.

“Risk management is not effective and the effectiveness of implementation and coordination of NWPAP actions is limited by the lack of defined scope and deliverables for each action.”

He said scope or deliverables for each action were not established or agreed during the development of the NWPAP.

Mr Hehir said this lack of deliverables made it difficult for the Department to accurately determine implementation progress and limited the effectiveness of the monitoring and reporting arrangements it had established.

“The Department is unable to demonstrate that it is effectively supporting the management of risk to the implementation of the NWPAP and is not effectively managing or overseeing risk for the implementation of Australian Government-led actions,” the Auditor-General said.

“The effectiveness of the Department’s planning and coordination activities for the implementation of the NWPAP has been reduced by lack of consensus on how jointly-led actions will be delivered,” he said.

“Shared risks are not being considered or managed.”

Mr Hehir made five recommendations aimed at improving its risk management processes, management of shared risks, performance monitoring and evaluation, and clarity over action scope or deliverables.

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 Casey Mazzarella, Jennifer Myles, Se Eun Lee, Hayley Pang and Corinne Horton.

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