Media release: The effectiveness of the financial arrangements and management practices in four integrity agencies
The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released a report today examining the effectiveness of the financial arrangements and management practices of four integrity agencies: the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the NSW Electoral Commission, the NSW Ombudsman, and the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission. The audit also included NSW Treasury and the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) because both departments are involved in the processes that lead to decisions about funding for the integrity agencies and managing access to this funding. The Hon. Don Harwin MLC, Special Minister of State, requested this audit under section 27(B)(3)(c) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983.
The audit found that the current approach to determining and administering annual funding for the integrity agencies presents threats to their independent status. The approach used by NSW Treasury and DPC is consistent with the legislative and Constitutional framework for financial management in New South Wales, but it does not sufficiently recognise that the roles and functions of the integrity agencies that are the focus of this audit are different to other departments and agencies. Specific mechanisms that present threats to the independence of the integrity agencies include the absence of transparency in decisions about funding for the integrity agencies, the means of applying efficiency dividends and budget savings and reform measures, the process of providing additional funding from DPC to the integrity agencies, and requests for the integrity agencies to report to DPC on their activities and outcomes.
The Auditor-General outlined the principles that inform the report’s recommendations in order to strengthen the financial arrangements for the integrity agencies. These principles are:
- There should be structured oversight by Parliament of the performance and financial management of the integrity agencies.
- Parliament’s role in the budget process should be expanded to ensure Cabinet is provided with more independent advice on the funding requirements for the integrity agencies.
- There should be transparency to Parliament and the relevant agency for decisions made about funding for the integrity agencies.
- The integrity agencies should be required to demonstrate their accountability as prudent managers of their financial resources.
The report also notes that the NSW Parliament should be consulted when considering the report’s recommendations.
Please contact Scott Stanton, Acting Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.