I am pleased to present my first local government audit report to Parliament, under the Local Government Amendment (Auditing) Act 2017.
This report reflects the results of a focus area audit on Controls Over Corporate Credit Cards. These audits have a narrow scope and normally focus on specific areas of financial controls. We audited 8 local governments, some big in size and some small, some metropolitan based and some regional, to give an idea of how local governments are performing in this area.
Given the huge diversity among local governments, the intent of these audits is not to compare, but to provide examples of better practice as well as opportunities for improvement.
Corporate credit cards offer significant benefits to entities. They can reduce costs and streamline business processes associated with authorising, tracking, purchasing, payment and reconciling purchases. But like all financial processes and tools, they can be misused if not properly managed.
I recognise the challenges that small local governments in particular experience with regard to matters such as segregation of duties and suitable arrangements while key staff are on leave. In saying that, the results of this audit are generally good. While we noted some areas that could be done better, the local governments mostly had satisfactory controls in place.
Importantly, the local governments were accepting of our findings and were open to change to address the issues we identified. And I encourage all local governments to follow suit – to assess their own management of corporate credit cards against the findings and recommendations of this report and to promptly act where required.
Parliament gave the Auditor General the mandate to audit local government to enhance accountability and transparency across the sector. For this to be a success we need to continue on the path we started with this audit. That is working together to recognise good practice as well as identify areas where things can and should be done better – in the public interest.