Biosecurity risk management

The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, today released a report on biosecurity in New South Wales. The report focuses on the Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) as the lead agency for biosecurity in New South Wales. It examined how well the department responds to biosecurity emergencies and manages compliance activities. DPI’s state partners include NSW Health, the NSW Environment Protection Authority, Local Land Services, and Local Control Authorities. 

The report found that DPI may not be focusing its activities on areas of highest risk as it does not have a comprehensive picture of biosecurity activities at state level. The report also found that gaps in DPI’s emergency risk assessment and cost benefit analysis practices limit its ability to be effective and proportionate when allocating resources and addressing emerging areas of risk.

DPI has strong formal agreements with its national partner – the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources - but does not have similar formal agreements in place with state partners, instead relying on informal relationships to achieve biosecurity emergency response outcomes. Reliance on these informal arrangements increases the risk that resources may not be available where and when needed.

DPI can improve its biosecurity risk management practices by
•    implementing formal agreements with partner agencies 
•    applying cost benefit analyses and formal post-action reviews after each biosecurity event
•    collecting and sharing data with key state partners to allow them to better target their biosecurity compliance activities. 

Further information

Please contact Barry Underwood, Director of the Office of the Auditor-General by email or on 9275 7101 or 0403 073 664