Premier and Cabinet

Regional assistance programs

See full description under Transport.

Unsolicited proposal to acquire 50 per cent of Ausgrid

See full description under Treasury

Treasury

Unsolicited proposal to acquire 50 per cent of Ausgrid

In 2016, the NSW Government held a competitive tender process for the partial lease of a 50.4 per cent interest in Ausgrid, however, the Commonwealth Government blocked the NSW Government from accepting a bid from Chinese backed consortia on national security grounds.

On 23 September 2016,  the NSW Government announced it had received an unsolicited proposal to acquire the 50.4 per cent interest in Ausgrid. On 20 October 2016, the NSW Government announced it had accepted the unsolicited proposal, delivering $16.2 billion gross (estimated to be around $6 billion net) to the NSW Government.

This performance audit will examine how the 'uniqueness' criteria required to accept an unsolicited proposal was satisfied, how value for money was established, how probity was assured, and the governance arrangements required by relevant guidelines.

Industry

Matching skills training with market need

The NSW Government recognises the need for an educated and skilled workforce to drive a productive economy, support workforce participation and grow industry and business. In 2015, the NSW Government implemented reforms in the vocational education and training sector aimed at getting more people trained while maximising public value for the government’s investment. This reform is called ‘Smart and Skilled’.

This audit will assess the effectiveness of the Department of Industry in identifying, prioritising, and aligning course subsidies to the skill needs of NSW. In making this assessment, the audit will examine whether:

  • The Department of Industry effectively identifies and prioritises present and future skill needs
  • Smart and Skilled funding is aligned with the priority skill areas
  • Skill needs and available VET courses are effectively communicated to potential participants and providers.

The audit will focus on the NSW Skills List under the Smart and Skilled program. 

Health

Health roster benefits realisation (in progress)

The NSW public health system employs over 100,000 people in clinical and non-clinical roles across the state. With increasing demand for services, it is vital that NSW Health effectively rosters staff to ensure high quality and efficient patient care, while maintaining good workplace practices to support staff in demanding roles.

NSW Health is implementing 'HealthRoster' as its single state-wide rostering system to more effectively roster staff according to the demands of each location, such as a hospital surgical ward or emergency department.

This audit will assess the effectiveness of the 'HealthRoster' system in delivering business benefits.

Planning and Environment

Regulation of water pollution in drinking water catchments and illegal solid waste disposal

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (Act), the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is the regulatory authority for the more significant waste generating activities which are scheduled in the Act and which require environmental protection licences issued by EPA.

Local councils have regulatory responsibilities for such activities in their local government areas which either are unlicenced, or fall below specific thresholds listed in the Act. For water pollution, EPA is the sole regulatory authority under the Act.

Disposal of waste is considered illegal when deposited on land or into water without correct approvals such as environmental protection licences, or where construction or demolition material is used as landfill without approval. Water pollution occurs when any matter is introduced into waterways which change the physical, chemical or biological condition of the water. Water quality objectives for drinking water catchments are generally set by relevant bodies responsible for those catchments. These include water authorities such as WaterNSW and Hunter Water, as well as local councils.

The audit will assess the effectiveness of EPA’s regulatory response to water pollution in drinking water catchments, and illegal solid waste disposal.

We will address this by assessing whether EPA effectively:

  • assesses and monitors water pollution in drinking water catchments for EPA regulated activities defined in the Act
  • manages breaches of environmental protection licences related to water pollution in drinking water catchments
  • manages water pollution incidents, other than licence breaches, in drinking water catchments
  • responds to illegal solid waste disposal through its regulatory role under the Act
  • achieved the priorities and objectives outlined in the NSW Illegal Dumping Strategy 2014-16
  • addressed recommendations made in the June 2017 ICAC report titled 'Investigation into a Regional Dumping Squad Officer and Others' which were not asbestos waste specific

To better understand any relevant issues local councils may be experiencing regarding EPA’s regulatory response to water pollution in drinking water catchments and illegal solid waste disposal, the Audit Office is seeking feedback from local councils to the following questions:

  • Has EPA’s response to instances of water pollution affecting water quality in council controlled drinking water catchments or town water supplies assisted your council?
  • Has EPA’s response to illegal solid waste disposal for which EPA has regulatory responsibility assisted your council?

We anticipate that the audit report will be tabled in parliament in late June 2018 

Transport

Regional assistance programs

The NSW Government commits substantial resources to regional assistance programs that broadly target:

  • infrastructure
  • jobs
  • individuals and small businesses
  • community amenity.

The NSW Government has committed to providing 30 per cent of the funds raised through the sale and lease of government assets to infrastructure in regional areas. At 30 June 2017, $1.7 billion had been committed for this purpose. The NSW Government allocates these funds through regional assistance programs such as Resources for Regions and Fixing Country Roads. NSW councils are the primary recipients of funding provided under these programs.

This audit will assess whether these two regional assistance programs (Resources for Regions and Fixing Country Roads) are being effectively managed and achieve their objectives. In making this assessment, we will address the following questions:

  • How well are the relevant agencies managing the assessment and recommendation process?
  • How do the relevant agencies ensure that funded projects are being delivered?
  • Do the funded projects meet program and project objectives?

 

Local Government

Fraud control in local government

This review will provide an analysis of council fraud controls against the Audit Office’s Fraud Control Improvement Kit, similar to our recent special review on fraud control in NSW government agencies. It will also look at public reporting on the extent of fraud and suspected fraud.


 

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