Page 2701 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 28 June 2011

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That would take it up in the range of 12, 14 or 16 audits, depending on where the funding went to and what the cost of auditing continues to do. It is interesting that the government, I think for the first time, has agreed in principle. The response states:

The Government will consider options for increasing capacity for performance audits in future budget development processes, in line with Government priorities and resource allocation.

It is quite clear, from not just around the country but around the world, that the standard that many audit offices and jurisdictions are seeking to move to is that 50 per cent of the budget be spent on the financial audits which are required under the law, which have statutory time frames, and that 50 per cent go to doing performance audits.

The financial audits have to be done. The books have to be audited. The Assembly has to be informed by 30 September that the books are in order. It is a function you just have to do. And when you do not have that discretion, of course you can only put what is left into doing the performance audits.

You only have to look at their reports on government office accommodation. There was that devastating report on the shift of the ESA to Fairbairn. FireLink was another devastating report for the Emergency Services Authority. The report on the Ambulance Service revealed that only—what was it?—five per cent of suburbs are being reached within the time limits set by the government itself. And that is just in one department. There were three damning reports in the last couple of years, which shows the ineptitude of this government in managing their budgets and managing their departments.

The committee would like to see a substantial increase in the number of performance audits each year. It is essential to ensure that the community is getting value for money. If the government is serious about genuine savings, the rule of thumb around the world is that for every dollar you spend on the audit you get about $10 back. They show you how to increase your outcomes from your spending. And it is a good investment, as well as keeping the government of the day on its toes.

One of the other problems of course is staff retention. It is a critical issue at the ACT audit office and it is a feature of many small agencies, particularly where those small agencies provide a great environment for the training and bringing up to standard of, for instance, graduates, giving graduates operational experience, and promotion opportunities for senior officers. But the problem for a small agency in a city like this is that you get picked off by the National Audit Office, which is just on the other side of the city, which is ready to pick off our key staff.

It is pleasing to hear that on the basis of the most recent staff survey done at the beginning of 2011, 81 per cent of the staff were satisfied with the job and 89 per cent said they were proud to work in this office. I think it is that second outcome which must be particularly satisfying, particular for the former Auditor-General, Tu Pham. Nine out of 10 staff said they were proud to work in the ACT audit office. It says much about the way in which this office is managed and the way in which the relationships were encouraged.

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