25 September 2023

Defence found misleading APS travellers

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A performance audit of the Department of Defence’s systems for paying allowances and entitlements to its employees in the Australian Public Service (APS) has found them to be less than effective.

In his report Defence’s Administration of Travel Allowances Paid to APS Employees, Auditor-General, Grant Hehir declared Defence’s system “not fully effective”.

Mr Hehir said the administration of employee allowances was a routine corporate function undertaken by Government sector entities.

He said effective arrangements demonstrated the entity’s proper use of public money.

He said his audit focused on travel allowances as an audit of such a common allowance could be useful to all Government sector entities. Defence had also identified the fraudulent use of a Defence credit card as a risk.

“Defence’s administrative arrangements to support the payment of travel allowances to APS employees exhibit shortcomings,” Mr Hehir said.

He said these included inconsistency in guidance, a failure to reflect policy requirements, and the division of policy and administrative responsibility across three Defence Groups.

“The 2015 Review of Red Tape in Defence made similar findings and recommended that Defence produce a single, brief policy guidance document in plain English on official travel,” Mr Hehir said.

“Defence reported internally that it had addressed this recommendation, when it had not.”

Mr Hehir recommended Defence review its travel guidance material to eliminate duplication and inconsistency, and promote compliance with relevant policies and processes.

He said it should also implement a process that ensured Defence’s policy relevant to travel was accurately reflected in guidance material and tools.

Defence agreed to the recommendation.

The Auditor-General’s report can be accessed on his website at this PS News link and his 62-page report downloaded at this link.

The audit team was Jennifer Myles, Kim Murray and Sally Ramsey.

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