Report on Local Government 2018

The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released her report today on the Local Government sector. The report focuses on key observations and findings from the 2017-18 financial audits of 135 councils in New South Wales and the 2016-17 audit of Bayside Council. The report also includes commentary on three performance audits published in 2018.

Unqualified audit opinions were issued on the 2017-18 financial statements of 135 councils. The audit opinion for Bayside Council’s 2016–17 financial statements was disclaimed as management were unable to confirm that the financial statements present fairly the performance and position of the Council. A further 24 councils required material adjustments to correct errors in previous audited financial statements. Three audits are still in progress and will be included in next year’s report.

‘While more councils lodged their financial statements by the statutory deadline, we continue to identify opportunities for councils to improve the quality of their financial reporting’, the Auditor-General said. 

The report also provides insights into the effectiveness of controls and governance processes across the Local Government sector.

‘It is pleasing to see an increase in the number of councils with an audit, risk and improvement committee and internal audit function’, the Auditor-General said.

However, there remains opportunity for councils to improve policies and practices around information technology, asset management, financial reporting, procurement and contract management.

The report will help NSW Parliament understand the common challenges that councils face. It provides points of comparison for councils and signposts matters that will be the focus of future audits. Importantly, this report and the interactive data tool that accompanies it, provides comprehensive and accessible information to citizens regarding the management and performance of their councils.

Further information

Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General, on 9275 7107 and email