26 September 2023

Auditor finds performance statements OK

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The quality of Government Departments’ annual performance statements look to have improved, with the Auditor-General releasing a report on the first year of his program auditing the statements.

In his report Audits of the Annual Performance Statements of Australian Government Entities 2021–22, Auditor-General Grant Hehir said his audits were conducted on the 2021–22 performance statements of six entities: the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD), the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury).

“Across the six audits, entities’ annual performance statements were largely effective in meeting the requirements of the performance framework and accurately reporting the performance of the entity in achieving its purposes,” Mr Hehir said.

“There were, however, some exceptions where entities did not have appropriate preparation processes, methodologies and assurance over the completeness and accuracy of results to support good quality performance reporting,” he said.

“The notable exception was that the Australian National Audit Office identified that reporting on seven of the 10 performance measures in the DAWE performance statements relating to the Agriculture Objective did not meet the requirements of the PGPA Rule [Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014].”

Mr Hehir said that as a result, the DAWE performance statements did not enable the user or reader to form an accurate assessment of the Department’s performance in meeting its objective, which is to ‘assist industry to accelerate growth towards a $100 billion agricultural sector by 2030’.

He issued modified audit conclusions for three of the six entities “which compares favourably to 2020–21 where all entities were issued a modified audit conclusion”.

AGD, DESE and the Treasury each received an unmodified audit opinion, while DAWE, DSS and DVA received a modified audit opinion.

Mr Hehir highlighted opportunities for further improvement in performance reporting practices across all entities, including the development of an enterprise-level performance framework; periodic monitoring and reporting; development of outcome-based performance measures and targets; and the integration of reporting requirements to reduce the reporting burden and improve clarity.

The Auditor-General’s Report can be accessed at this PS News link and a 68-page pdf version at this link.

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