Audit Program 2017-18

The following audits have been completed or are currently in progress. Further information will be added as it becomes available.

2017-18

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

PREMIER AND CABINET

Government advertising

The Government Advertising Act 2011 requires the Auditor-General to conduct a performance audit on at least one government advertising campaign run in each financial year. These audits must include, but are not limited to, assessing whether a government agency is carrying out activities in relation to government advertising campaigns effectively and doing so economically and efficiently and in compliance with this Act, the regulations, other laws and the government advertising guidelines.

This audit will examine two campaigns:

  • 'Stronger Councils, Stronger Communities' for 2015–16
  • 'Dogs deserve better' (Greyhound racing closure) for 2016–17

 

NSW major event assessments

TREASURY

Implementation of the Government’s Risk Management Framework

Risk management is a critical element of good corporate governance. Effective risk management enables agencies to improve their decision making by allowing them to make informed decisions about risks. It is now widely accepted that organisational culture plays a key role in implementing a robust risk management framework. Neglecting the ‘soft’ side of risk management – which includes fostering a culture where risks are proactively communicated and risk management is integrated into daily activities - can prevent institutions managing the risks that threaten their success. This audit will examine how effectively NSW Government agencies are building risk management capabilities and embedding a sound risk culture throughout their organisation. 

To do this the audit will examine whether:

  • Agencies can demonstrate that senior management has provided a mandate for, and is committed to, risk management.
  • Information about risk is communicated effectively throughout the agencies.
  • Agencies are building risk management capabilities.

The audit will examine risk management in NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp), NSW Police Force, Ministry of Health, and the Fair Trading function within the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation. The Treasury will also be included as an auditee as the agency in charge of the NSW Government risk management framework. The audit is expected to table in December 2017.

Public private partnerships contract management

FINANCE, SERVICES AND INNOVATION

Cyber security

Property Asset Utilisation Taskforce

EDUCATION

Use of ICT to improve teaching and learning

Rapid and continuing advances in information and communication technology (ICT) are changing the ways people share, use, develop and process information and technology. In this digital age, young people will use and interact with ICT in a range of learning, work and social contexts. Schools have responded to this by integrating modern and technology-enabled learning into school curricula. To ensure students benefit from new approaches, schools and teachers need to plan and use ICT resources effectively.

This audit will assess how well NSW schools are using ICT to improve teaching and learning. The audit will focus on:

  • the Department's plans, policies and strategies for use of ICT in schools
  • support and training provided to teachers to integrate ICT into classroom practice
  • monitoring, reporting and evaluation of the impact of ICT on student learning.

Utilisation of school facilities

Connected Communities program – effectiveness of cross-agency coordination

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY SERVICES

Effectiveness of early intervention programs

HEALTH

Follow up on activity based funding – Management demand and hospital cost/quality variation

ICT project management and benefits realisation in Health

Integrated care

Ambulance Service performance    

Ensuring that ambulance resources are used as efficiently as possible is a key challenge for NSW Ambulance. Demand for ambulance services has been increasing and the nature of that demand is changing due to population growth, demographic changes and an increasing focus on providing integrated health care services.

In recent years, NSW Ambulance has introduced a range of demand management initiatives that aim to improve the efficiency of the use of ambulance emergency resources and provide the right type of care to patients. These include changes to the classification process for 000 calls, referring some patients to health services other than hospital emergency departments, and increasing the range of patient treatment options that paramedics have.

This audit will assess the extent to which NSW Ambulance’s demand management initiatives have improved the efficiency of ambulance services. The audit will focus on:

  • the integration of NSW Ambulance’s demand management initiatives with broader NSW Ambulance and NSW Health strategies
  • NSW Ambulance’s understanding of, and planning for, demand for its services
  • the implementation and monitoring of NSW Ambulance’s demand management initiatives.

INDUSTRY AND SKILLS

Energy rebates for low income households

Strategic Release Framework for Coal

PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT

Planning for new/revitalised suburbs

Office of Strategic Lands

POLICE AND JUSTICE

Emergency management

TRANSPORT

Delivering major projects – Pacific Highway

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Council reporting on service delivery
Councils have a high level of autonomy to provide services in response to the needs and priorities of their communities. It is important that those communities can see clearly how decisions are made about the services they deliver and understand the value that Councils deliver.

Councils’ annual reports are one of the important ways to:
  • communicate the effectiveness and efficiency of the services they deliver
  • demonstrate transparency in decision making
  • encourage engagement of local communities in planning.

The Local Government Act requires each council to report annually on its 'achievements in implementing its delivery program and the effectiveness of the principal activities undertaken in achieving the objectives at which those principal activities are directed'. The Local Government Act and Integrated Planning and Reporting framework provide a basis for such reporting.

This audit will assess how well council annual reports communicate performance in delivering key services to the public. It will do this by examining whether councils effectively report to constituents on: 
  • achievement of planned outcomes
  • service levels (outputs) delivered
  • efficiency of service delivery.
The audit’s primary focus will be on councils’ most recent annual reports and it will cover all councils. The audit will only comment on reporting of service delivery performance, and will not actually assess the underlying service performance. For the purposes of the audit, we will accept each council’s decisions about the types of services it provides to its community.

The first stage of the audit will establish a set of good practice principles through research and consultation.The second stage will be to compare council annual reports against these principals. The third stage will be to identify and discuss examples of good practice with those councils, with a view to profiling them in our final report.

The proposed tabling date is third quarter 2017.

 
Fraud control in local government

Fraud is the crime of obtaining financial or another benefit by deception. The impact of fraud on councils and their communities can be significant. It can disrupt business continuity, reduce the quality and effectiveness of critical services, and threatens the financial stability of a council. It can also damage a council’s public image and reputation.

This audit will provide a snapshot of fraud in NSW local government and an analysis of council fraud controls against the Audit Office’s Fraud Control Improvement Kit.

As part of the audit, the Office will conduct a survey of councils. This will be similar to our survey of state government agencies reported in November 2016.

The objective of the audit is to determine whether councils manage the risk of fraud effectively. The audit criteria are:

  • councils identify, analyse and assess their fraud risks regularly
  • controls put in place by councils to prevent or detect frauds are effective
  • councils investigate suspected or alleged fraud
  • councils monitor their fraud risks, controls and responses and use the results to improve their fraud risk management framework.
The proposed tabling is fourth quarter of 2017, and we expect to issue the survey to councils early in the second quarter.


Shared services in local government 

Councils provide a variety of services for their local communities including libraries, swimming pools, sporting grounds, local infrastructure, waste management, environmental services, and sewerage and drainage. Councils have a long history in running these services, both individually and collectively as part of shared service arrangements. Engaging in successful shared services arrangements can help councils to obtain greater access to skills and experience, increase savings, improve strategic capacity and community outcomes.

Shared services are two or more local government authorities jointly managing activities with the primary purpose of delivering services or performing back office functions. This definition includes shared services in corporate services (e.g. IT, finance) and in customer services (e.g. waste collection). It also includes two or more councils jointly contracting out services to the private sector.

This audit will assess whether councils:

  • efficiently and effectively engage in shared services arrangements, and
  • receive efficient and effective guidance and support to enable them to engage in shared services.

As part of this audit, we will conduct a state of the sector survey of shared services in local government in NSW. We will also examine shared services examples across selected councils to identify key barriers and enablers to successful engagement in shared services.

This audit will not specifically assess:

  • amalgamations process
  • regional Joint Organisations
  • county councils
  • outsourcing of services by one council
  • the merits of competitive tendering processes
  • public-private partnerships
  • service delivery other than shared services.

However, we may comment on these issues/areas where they affect our findings, or to provide context.

The survey of all NSW councils will commence in November 2017 and the audit report will be tabled in Parliament in June 2018.

 

 

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