26 September 2023

Auditor’s Office survives its own audit

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A strategic review of the ACT Auditor-General’s office has found it to be efficiently and effectively discharging the comprehensive public sector audit mandate it has been entrusted with.

In his report, 2020 Strategic Review of the ACT Auditor-General, former Victorian and WA Auditor-General, Des Pearson, said the ACT Audit Office employed and conformed with contemporary standards and best practice in auditing.

“Comprehensive and well-integrated subordinate operational policies, procedures and practices are in place which are impressive for the scale of the Office,” Mr Pearson said in his report.

He said the ACT Auditor-General, Michael Harris and his staff were generally held in high regard by stakeholders.

He said, however, there was room for improvement in communication with auditees to more purposefully manage their expectations.

“These issues however are not unique to the ACT environment and do not detract from my overall conclusion,” Mr Pearson said.

He said the findings of the 2020 strategic review were based on continuity of improvement and refinement rather than those of a previous review.

“This result is understandable given the strong culture of the Audit Office which is focused on developing a highly skilled workforce and delivery quality audits,” Mr Pearson said.

He said the Office performed at a level reasonably expected when compared with other jurisdictions.

Mr Pearson consulted a diverse range of stakeholders in the course of his review and said their views had been reflected in his final report.

He recommended that the Office’s current initiative to improve engagement with Directorates and Agencies in the development of the Performance Audit Program be continued and further refined, and that consideration be given to the development of a fact sheet to explain the role and independence of the Auditor-General in lay terms.

A further recommendation was that the Auditor-General seek to meet with the ACT Strategic Board on a six-monthly basis to brief it on audit issues and findings.

Auditor-General, Michael Harris said the Office “fully embraces” the areas for improvement identified by Mr Pearson and would ensure the recommendations were addressed promptly.

Mr Pearson’s 62-page report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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