Engagements in Progress
The immediate purpose of our financial audits is to provide an independent opinion on the annual financial statements prepared by each public sector agency. We also report to parliament on issues relating to each of the agencies we audit. Each volume may also contain findings from any special reviews.
Volumes focusing on:
- State Finances (TSSA)
- Superannuation, compensation and housing
- Environment, water and regional infrastructure
- Law, order and emergency services
- Transport and ports
- Education and communities
These volumes will be tabled mid-October through mid-December.
Performance audits are special in-depth assessments of how effectively, efficiently and economically the government carries out its activities. We aim to inform parliament how well particular services are being undertaken and to improve the way government functions and services are managed. We do this by identifying areas for improvement and recommending better ways of doing things. If you would like further information about the scope of a particular audit or its progress, or if you have any information you believe could be useful to us, contact Rob Mathie, Assistant Auditor-General, on (02) 9275 7106, or at email@example.com.
Making the best use of public housing
Projected release: 26 June 2013
The Department of Family and Community Services (through Housing NSW) and the Department of Finance and Services (through the NSW Land and Housing Corporation) operate under the Housing Act 2001 to manage the NSW Government’s housing portfolio and develop broader housing strategies. This portfolio includes over 122,000 public housing homes.
Public housing is a scarce resource in high demand, which needs to be made available to those most in need.
This audit examines NSW’s capacity to meet changing public housing need, including how well Housing NSW acts to relocate tenancies where an individual’s needs or circumstances change and how well the Land and Housing Corporation plans to ensure the asset base reflects the requirements of those most in need. In order to assess this, we will examine whether:
- the current situation enables Housing NSW and the Land and Housing Corporation to meet the changing public housing need
- plans are developed to ensure the mix of public housing reflects the requirements of those most in need
- objectives are set to ensure that the available supply of public housing is shared equitably among people who are most in need
- policies and procedures help ensure the attainment of objectives, consistent with legislation
- identified control activities are appropriately applied
- information on tenant needs and circumstances is obtained and reviewed on a timely basis
- reports show performance in dealing with the changing needs of tenants relative to established objectives.
Reducing ambulance turnaround time at hospitals
Projected release: Wednesday 3 July 2013
Ambulances can be delayed at hospitals until their patients are transferred into the care of emergency departments. This delay means ambulance crews are unable to respond to other incidents and can lead to longer response times. Extra ambulance crews are sometimes needed to cover the gap.
We recognise that there are many causes of ambulance delays at hospitals, such as increasing demand for emergency care, and access to inpatient beds in hospitals. In this audit we propose to focus on the front end of the emergency care pathway.
The audit will assess whether there are effective strategies in place to reduce the time spent by ambulance crews at emergency departments. Our report will answer the following questions:
- Do strategies to reduce ambulance delays at emergency departments free up ambulance crews to respond to other incidents?
- Do demand management strategies limit the number of ambulance patients taken to emergency departments?.
The activities to be audited are:
- ambulance delay minimisation strategies developed by the Ambulance Service of NSW and Ministry of Health
- demand management strategies developed by the Ambulance Service of NSW.
The audit will not specifically examine:
- ambulance responses by helicopter
- initiatives to improve patient flow in hospitals
- the appropriateness of clinical decisions made by health staff
- the adequacy of ambulance / hospital resources and rostering practices
- demand management strategies put in place by hospitals or Local Health Districts.
However we may comment on these issues where they affect our findings or to provide context.
Cost of alcohol abuse to the NSW Government
Projected release: Wednesday 31 July 2013
The Auditor-General has a strong interest in how government minimises the harm caused by tobacco, alcohol and drugs. This audit follows on from audits on cannabis cautioning, responsible service of alcohol and responding to domestic violence.
The NSW State Plan 2021 contains two alcohol related targets which are:
- reduce risky drinking to below 25 per cent by 2015
- reduce alcohol related assaults.
This audit will assess whether the NSW Government knows the costs incurred by State agencies as a result of alcohol abuse. We will ask whether:
- the NSW Government effectively monitors the cost of alcohol abuse so it can resource public services to address it
- the NSW Government publicly reports the cost of alcohol abuse to inform the community of its impact on public services.
The audit will not:
- review other community costs, such as lost productivity in the work place
- assess the effectiveness of government programs to mitigate the harm associated with alcohol abuse.
Note that we may comment on these issues where they affect our findings or to provide context.
Improving legal and safe driving among Aboriginal people
Projected release: 1st quarter of 2013-14
Access to transport, especially a private vehicle, is often vital to:
- maintain employment and family connections
- access key markets and services for such things as shopping, health and education
- maintain social and community relations.
The fewer transport options there are available for people, the more intense the need for private vehicles. As licenced drivers, Aboriginal people are underrepresented. Studies estimate that less than half of those who could hold a valid licence do, compared to nine out of ten for the general populations of eligible drivers. Conversely, Aboriginal people are overrepresented in imprisonment for drivers licence offences and in serious and fatal injuries from car accidents.
In 1991 the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody identified the link between driving offences and Aboriginal imprisonment rates. The Inquiry made a specific recommendation for jurisdictions where motor vehicle offences were a significant cause of Aboriginal imprisonment, such as NSW, to identify the factors leading to this outcome and, in conjunction with Aboriginal community organisations, to design programs to reduce the rate of motor vehicle offences.
This audit will examine how well government responses to improve legal and safe driving among Aboriginal people have worked. The audit will ask:
1. Are barriers identified within:
- the licensing and vehicle registration process
- the fines enforcement process
- the justice system?
2. Are actions to prevent or address these barriers effective?
Managing casual teachers
Projected release: 1st quarter of 2013-14
NSW public schools employ casual teachers to cover the absence of other teachers for a variety of reasons including leave, secondment, training and unfilled positions. Casual teachers can also be employed to enable a school to undertake special projects such as literacy improvement. In 2011, almost 1.14 million teaching days were provided on a casual basis. This represented around 11 per cent of total teaching days.
This performance audit will assess whether the Department of Education and Communities (DEC) effectively manages the supply, availability and performance of casual teachers. In order to assess this we will examine whether:
- DEC approves candidates for casual teaching and maintains complete and accurate information on their availability
- DEC provides casual teachers that match school needs
- DEC ensures that schools provide appropriate induction to casual teachers
- DEC seeks feedback from schools on the performance of casual teachers
- DEC responds to the performance issues of casual teachers.
The audit will not examine private schools, the management of permanent teachers or a range of devolutionary reforms associated with Local Schools, Local Decisions. However we may comment on these where they provide context.
Projected release: 1st quarter of 2013-14
Government advertising is used to inform the community of government services and programs and any changes to them. It is also used to address social and health issues by influencing behaviours, such as anti-smoking campaigns. However, such advertising should not be used for party political purposes. NSW Government agencies spent around $63 million in 2011-12 on media used for government advertising.
Our performance audits of government advertising in 2007 and 2009 found that the government advertising guidelines were not adequate to prevent the use of public funds for party political purposes. This led to improvements in such guidelines, with the May 2010 version being the most robust. This version adopted most of the key recommendations of our 2009 performance audit.
The Government Advertising Act 2011 commenced on 5 October 2012 and was accompanied by the Government Advertising Regulation 2012, NSW Government Advertising Guidelines and the NSW Government Advertising Handbook. These government advertising requirements replaced the previous advertising guidelines.
The Auditor-General is required to conduct a performance audit of one or more government agency each year in accordance with section 14 of the Act.
This performance audit will assess whether selected government agencies are carrying out activities in relation to government advertising campaigns effectively and doing so economically and efficiently and in compliance with the Government Advertising Act 2011, the Government Advertising Regulation 2012, other laws and the government advertising guidelines.
The audit will also examine whether the government advertising requirements have been effectively introduced.