My office has previously audited State fees and charges in 2004, 2006 and 2010. Those audits found the sampled entities needed to improve their fee-setting frameworks and practices to ensure they effectively set fees for their services. Process weaknesses increase risks that fees are not correctly calculated for the services provided and may lead to non-compliance with government policies and legislation.
I decided to conduct a 4th audit on this subject as I consider it important to provide ongoing assurance to Parliament and the community that entities effectively set fees for their services.
I was pleased to see the WA Police Force had sound processes for setting fees. It also demonstrated better practice in some aspects which I have included in the report for the benefit of other entities.
However, the audit found that the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development did not effectively set fees. It was disappointing to also find weaknesses in the fee-setting framework for recreational fishing licence fees similar to what this office reported back in 2010. Whilst I acknowledge DPIRD maintains a view that recreational fishing licence fees are not a “fee for service”, I believe it is important to cost the licence and monitoring aspects of the fee to support transparent fee-setting decisions.
I encourage all entities to use the checklist in Appendix 1 to guide their fee-setting framework and practices.