Deciding what to audit is a key part of the Auditor General’s independence. We have objective, robust and transparent processes in place to help us select the right topics. However, in some instances, the Auditor General may start an audit and then decide not to proceed to a full audit. This can happen for reasons including when the State decides to significantly change the delivery of a program or service, or when another entity reviews the same area, and the Auditor General decides there is limited value in completing an audit and separately reporting findings to Parliament.
A narrow scope performance audit into Serious Incidents Involving People with Disability was started at the Department of Communities (Department) in 2017-18, but not progressed. The audit was ceased in February 2018, primarily as a result of the State’s decision to roll out the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Our early engagement with the Department and stakeholders raised some preliminary concerns which we reported to the Department. These included:
- there may be inconsistency in what incidents are, and are not, reported to the Department
- limited guidance on how to define and classify the severity of incidents that occur
- limited compliance checks to ensure all serious incidents are reported to the Department by service providers. Rather, the Department’s oversight is focused on ensuring the completeness of serious incident reports that are lodged and it follows up to ensure appropriate action is taken to address the incident
- service provider contracts may be renewed by the Department without full consideration of past performance.
We made a number of preliminary recommendations to the Department which we believe could improve serious incident reporting and assist the Department. These focused on the review of contract management processes and strategies. The Department advised that its established contract management procedures and processes address these preliminary recommendations.