26 September 2023

Cashless card audit questions effects

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A performance audit into the effectiveness of the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) administration of the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) program has found that while its administrative oversight was largely effective, the Department didn’t demonstrate that the program was meeting its objectives.

In his report Implementation and Performance of the Cashless Debit Card Trial — Follow-on, Auditor-General Grant Hehir said DSS had implemented recommendations from a 2018-19 Auditor-General Report related to risk management, procurement and contract management.

Mr Hehir said the Department partly implemented report recommendations related to performance monitoring, and did not effectively implement recommendations related to cost–benefit analysis, post-implementation review and evaluation.

“DSS and Services Australia have effective risk management processes in place for the CDC program, although DSS has not yet developed a risk-based compliance framework,” Mr Hehir said.

“Internal performance measurement and monitoring processes for the CDC program are not effective,” he said.

“Monitoring data exists, but it is not used to provide a clear view of program performance due to limited performance measures and no targets.”

Mr Hehir said the CDC program extension and expansion was not informed by an effective second impact evaluation, cost–benefit analysis or post-implementation review.

He said that although DSS evaluated the CDC Trial, a second impact evaluation delivered late in the implementation of the CDC program had similar methodological limitations to the first and was not independently reviewed.

The Auditor-General made two recommendations related to the development of internal performance monitoring and the conduct of an external review of the impact evaluation.

DSS agreed to the first recommendation and disagreed to the second.

The Auditor-General’s Report can be accessed at this PS News link and an 83-page printable version at this link.

The audit team was Renina Boyd, Sonya Carter, Supriya Benjamin, Ji Young Kim, Peta Martyn and Christine Chalmers.

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