Looking back over the year, I am very pleased at how well our reports covered the diversity of government operations and gave Parliament and the community an appreciation of how those areas were performing. Covering the diversity of government operations is critical, which is why we set a key performance indicator (KPI) to help measure our coverage of four broad areas – service delivery, economic development, social and environment, and governance.
On the financial audit front, we made important improvements to the usefulness of the information we provide Parliament in our annual Audit Results Report. This report summarised the annual assurance audits of the financial statements, controls and KPIs of agencies for the 2012-13 financial year. For the first time, this report provided selected additional information about trends in the state’s finances and key financial ratios and other financial aspects of individual agencies that we noted during the audits. Some of this information may already have been reported in individual annual reports. However, we hope that Parliament will find the inclusion of the information in a single report is both convenient and helpful to its monitoring of the public sector.
I believe this report should now play an important part in providing transparency across government, and I will continue to look at ways to improve it.
Our Performance Audit and Information Systems audit teams continued to cover the hard and sometimes contentious topics. Recently I reported on the problems with the Fiona Stanley Hospital’s IdentityAccess Management Project and the likelihood that intended automation of key functions will not be achieved in the short term.The audit reinforced findings we made in the past about the types of risks that are most likely to prevent ICT projects being delivered on time and budget. Reports such as the Public Trustee:AdministrationoftheFinancialAffairsof VulnerablePeople continue to indicate that public sector agencies are dealing with the impact of a growing number of socially disadvantaged and ‘at risk’people in our community.The PublicTrustee is responsible for managing the financial affairs of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.This will be a continuing challenge not just for the government and its agencies but for the community as a whole and I am certain we will touch on more of this area in future audits.
Considering other relevant work and reports
We continue to consider other relevant work when determining our topic selections for the year, and our recent audit on TheImplementationandInitialOutcomesof theSuicidePreventionStrategyfollowed a report on this issue from the Ombudsman of WA.This audit focused on implementation of the Western Australian Suicide Prevention Strategy 2009-2013 by the Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention. Similarly, our audit of the project to expand the Banksia Hill Detention Centre was done in parallel with a review by the Inspector of Custodial Services into the cause of riots that occurred at the centre in January 2013. In a similar vein, our report on WesternPower’sManagementof its Wood PoleAssets followed up on concerns raised by Parliament’sPublic Administration Committee. We assessed whether the agency had addressed these concerns, and identified some significant challenges for the state in the future.You can read more about these audits in the Annual Report’s Highlights section.
Timelines not met
On the less positive side, a significant number of our reports to Parliament, which are our core business, took longer than expected. The effects were increased pressure across the business and a build up of reports in some months with a need to issue a number of reports on the same day.Tabling multiple reports on one day gives Parliament, the community and media less capacity to fully consider the issues we raise in our reports. However, it is interesting to note that some other audit offices worldwide actually take a deliberate decision to table all of their reports on one or two days each year. Nevertheless, I intend to continue to aim to table reports on separate days, and in 2014-15 I expect to have a timelier and more even spread of reports. In more positive news, we exceeded our annual KPI target of 25 reports, with 26 reports tabled.
Liaison with Parliament
As an independent officer of Parliament, I take very seriously the need to work with and assist Parliament and its committees to the extent that I can. In particular, we have a close working relationship with our oversight committees, the Joint Standing Committee on Audit, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Legislative Assembly and the Estimates and Financial Operations Committee (EFOC) of the Legislative Council. I generally meet twice per year with both PAC and EFOC to discuss matters such as emerging audit issues, the budget of my Office and our forward performance audit program.
Both PAC and EFOC are also essential to my effectiveness through their monitoring of the audit issues that I raise and their input into the topics that we select. Additionally, PAC has an important role as it follows up with agencies the actions taken in response to my performance audit reports. I appreciate the interest from Parliament and its committees in our auditing work and reports.
Legislative and performance reviews
Some progress has been made toward the required review of theAuditor General Act 2006 and the performance of the Office. Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Audit has established the terms of reference, and is working to establish the administrative and legal arrangements that need to be in place to undertake the review. I am now hopeful that this important review will be completed in 2014-15 and that Parliament will get the information and assurance it needs about the efficiency and effectiveness of my Office.
Business Intelligence tool
This year saw the introduction of our new Business Intelligence tool, which is another way that we can manage the progress of our reports to Parliament. In a time when the sector is being asked to do more with less, we expect this tool will deliver efficiencies through graphical and real-time reporting of project data that we can use to better monitor and control the timelines and cost of our audits.
Goodbye to an Assistant Auditor General
Unfortunately the year saw the departure of Colin Campbell, our former Assistant Auditor General for the Information Systems and Performance Audit Unit. I want to acknowledge the significant role Colin played in his 12 years with the Office. Colin was a major contributor to a long list of projects, provided valuable leadership as a member of the Executive Management Group and was a pleasure to work with.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge the work of my dedicated and skilled people and the executive team who lead them. I appreciate the commitment and passion displayed by employees at the Office of the Auditor General, and feel proud to work among them.
I also acknowledge the close working relationship we have with the Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates and Financial Operations Committee and my colleagues from other accountability organisations who make up the Integrity Coordinating Group.These relationships are highly valued, along with the important working relationship I hold with my fellow Australasian Council of Auditors-General colleagues. Finally, I thank the Parliament of Western Australia for its continued support.