Planning and Environment 2016

Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford released a report on the planning and environment cluster today, concluding that the quality of financial reporting is improving. However, the cluster can improve its financial controls and governance framework.

Agencies can do more to identify and manage conflicts of interest

Less than half of the agencies in the cluster require contractors to declare conflicts of interest prior to engagement, and just over half require staff to declare secondary employment arrangements.

‘Conflict of interest declarations and monitoring of conflicts needs to be extended to contractors and secondary employment arrangements,’ said the Auditor-General. ‘Insufficient controls to identify and manage conflicts of interest could cause serious financial and reputational damage to an agency.’

Contractors and staff may not be aware of their obligations and this may undermine integrity, credibility and negatively impact the public perception of government agencies.

The outcome of initiatives to tackle illegal dumping is not measured

Limited information is available to determine whether the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) achieved the target of reducing incidences of large scale illegal dumping by 30 per cent by 2016, as identified in the 'Illegal Dumping Strategy 2014–16’. Increased funding has allowed the EPA to nearly double its investigations into illegal dumping since 2014–15 and implement other initiatives to tackle illegal dumping.

‘Significant funding is dedicated to tackle illegal dumping under the ‘Waste Less, Recycle More’ program and the EPA should have measures to assess outcomes associated with its illegal dumping initiatives,’ said the Auditor-General.

While there has been a reported 19 per cent reduction in New South Wales' litter volume over the past two years, illegal dumping is not taken into account in this measurement. Illegal dumping can harm the environment, increase waste clean-up costs and lead to lost revenue from avoided waste levies.

Further information

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664 and email barry.underwood@audit.nsw.gov.au.