The Auditor General is an independent officer of Parliament with responsibility for auditing the public sector. The Auditor General has complete discretion in the performance of these functions. This independence and freedom from pressure, influence or interference is the cornerstone of public sector audit.
Ms Caroline Spencer was appointed Auditor General for a non- renewable term of 10 years in May 2018, in accordance with the Auditor General Act 2006 (AG Act).
The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) supports the Auditor General and is one of the largest audit practices in Western Australia. The OAG is a department of the public service and the Auditor General is the Chief Executive Officer and employer of staff.
As figure 1 shows, the Auditor General reports directly to Parliament. Three parliamentary committees have oversight of our operations – Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Estimates and Financial Operations Committee (EFOC) and Joint Audit Committee (JAC).
The Auditor General is responsible for:
- auditing the Annual Report on state finances
- conducting annual financial statement, key performance indicator (KPI) and control audits, and issuing audit opinions for departments, statutory authorities, tertiary institutions and corporatised entities
- conducting annual financial statement audits and issuing auditor’s reports for local governments
- undertaking wide-ranging performance audits to ensure there are adequate controls within state government agencies and local governments, compliance with relevant legislation, and most importantly efficiency, effectiveness and economy of operations or programs
- reporting the results of audits to Parliament in an objective, competent, insightful and timely manner.
Our main clients are Parliament, state and local government entities, and the people of Western Australia.
In the past 12 months we completed financial audits of 183 state agencies and subsidiaries that had a combined worth of over $228 billion in assets.
We also assess the efficiency and effectiveness of agencies and local governments and their programs through performance audits. In 2017-18, we conducted and reported on 27 performance audits, involving over 74 agencies, that included 98 recommendations.
We deal with state agencies employing over 140,000 people that provide hugely diverse public services, including education, health, community services, justice, energy, natural resource management and economic development.
This year, we also started our first annual financial statement audits of 46 local governments, and will progressively take on the annual financial statement audits of all remaining local governments by 2020-21.
The state’s 139 local governments and 9 regional councils employ over 15,000 people, spend nearly $4 billion on service delivery and infrastructure and manage more than $40 billion in assets. They deliver core services in their community including waste, roads, parks, playgrounds and gardens, planning and development approvals, public health and various licensing requirements.
We achieved this with a budget of $26.1 million and just over 145 people and the professional resources of our contract audit firm partners.
We have a diverse cultural and social workforce and our people also come with a range of qualifications and experiences well beyond simply auditing. We are very proud of this diversity because it strengthens our capacity and culture, and makes the OAG a more enjoyable place to work.