26 September 2023

Audit reveals tertiary troubles

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The Auditor General has expressed concern at continuing weaknesses in the financial, management and information systems employed by the State’s universities and TAFEs.

Caroline Spencer said many of these weaknesses had been identified in previous years, yet remained unresolved.

“During the 2021-22 State sector audits we took the unprecedented step of withdrawing from the financial audits of some entities who were not audit-ready,” Ms Spencer said.

“From these nine entities there were an additional 10 qualification matters, 67 control weaknesses (with 23 rated as significant) and $614.9 million of adjusted and $16.5 million of unadjusted audit differences.”

She said this meant the final results for the State sector were stark, with 45 qualification matters identified at 25 entities, a record for the State.

‘The increase in audit qualification matters is due, in part, to failures by entities to resolve audit findings related to financial management and information system control weaknesses, many unresolved from the prior year,” Ms Spencer said.

“Across the public sector, entities will need determination and commitment of sufficient effort and resources to resolve their significant issues.”

She said without such attention, risks of error and fraud were high and this might erode the public’s confidence in the administration of public finances.

To assist entities to be better prepared for their annual financial audit, an Audit Readiness — Better Practice Guide was available on the Office of the Auditor General’s website.

“It is hoped the new guide and associated tools will help to reduce the number of qualifications, audit queries, issues, adjustments and time,” Ms Spencer said.

“Ultimately smoother and more efficient audit processes will be better for the sector, stakeholders and the community.”

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