26 September 2023

Audit opens door on Defence Housing

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An audit of the effectiveness of Defence Housing Australia (DHA) has found it has been largely effective in delivering suitable housing to Australian Defence Force (ADF) members but had not benchmarked its efficiency.

In his report Management of Defence Housing Australia, Auditor-General, Grant Hehir found that while DHA had appropriate processes in place to achieve value for money in property acquisitions, its service agreements were not wholly fit-for-purpose.

“Defence requirements may exceed what DHA can provide under its legislation,” Mr Hehir said.

“While there are agreed performance measures, these are indicators of activity and do not provide an adequate basis for assessing whether DHA’s delivery of housing services has met the agreements’ objectives.”

Mr Hehir said no work had been done to assess the effect of DHA’s services on Australian Defence Force (ADF) member retention, which had been a major reason for the creation of the Agency.

He said there was no evidence that key policies were endorsed by or issued with the authority of DHA’s Board of Directors.

“The approval of key policies and frameworks, and the strategic oversight of non-financial risks such as those relating to scope of powers and legal compliance are key responsibilities of the Board as the accountable authority,” Mr Hehir said.

The Auditor-General made four recommendations relating to governance, contract management, performance measurement and procurement.

DHA and Defence agreed to all recommendations.

The DHA Board advised that steps had already been taken to address the recommendations and findings in the report.

“DHA understands there are opportunities for improvement in some governance arrangements,” it said.

The Auditor-General’s report can be accessed online at this PS News link and his 91-page printed report at this link.

The audit team was David Rowlands, Jordan Bastoni and Sally Ramsey.

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