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Published

Actions for Education 2018

Education 2018

Education
Asset valuation
Financial reporting
Information technology
Infrastructure
Service delivery
Shared services and collaboration
Workforce and capability

The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, released her report today on the results of the financial audits of agencies in the Education cluster. The report focuses on key observations and findings from the most recent financial audits of these agencies. 'I am pleased to report that unqualified audit opinions were issued on the financial statements of both agencies in the Education cluster', the Auditor-General said. Statements were submitted and audited within statutory deadlines.

This report analyses the results of our audits of financial statements of the Education cluster for the year ended 30 June 2018. The table below summarises our key observations.

This report provides parliament and other users of the Education cluster’s financial statements with the results of our audits, our observations, analysis, conclusions and recommendations in the following areas:

  • financial reporting
  • audit observations
  • service delivery.

Financial reporting is an important element of good governance. Confidence and transparency in public sector decision making are enhanced when financial reporting is accurate and timely.

This chapter outlines our audit observations related to the financial reporting of agencies in the Education cluster for 2017–18.

Observation Conclusions and recommendations
2.1 Quality of financial reporting
Unqualified audit opinions were issued on the financial statements of both cluster agencies. Sufficient audit evidence was obtained to conclude the financial statements were free of material misstatement.
2.2 Timeliness of financial reporting
Both cluster agencies met the statutory deadlines for completing early close procedures and submitting financial statements. Early close procedures continue to facilitate the timely preparation of cluster agencies’ financial statements and completion of audits, but scope exists to improve outcomes by resolving issues and supplying supporting documentation earlier.
2.3 Key issues from financial audits
Inconsistencies in the Department’s annual leave and long service leave data, identified over the past three audits, remain unresolved. This issue impacts the Department’s liability estimates for annual leave and long service leave, including associated on-costs. It also on-flows to the Crown Entity, which assumes the Department's liability for long service leave. Recommendation: The Department should confirm leave data and review assumptions following deployment of the new HR/Payroll system to better estimate the liability for employee benefits and the amount to be assumed by the Crown Entity.
2.4 Key financial information
Cluster agencies recorded net deficits in 2017–18.

The Department recorded a net deficit of $30.7 million in 2017–18 against a budgeted surplus of $122 million.

The NSW Education Standards Authority recorded a net deficit of $4.1 million against a budgeted deficit of $4.7 million.

Appropriate financial controls help ensure the efficient and effective use of resources and administration of agency policies. They are essential for quality and timely decision making.

This chapter outlines our observations and insights from:

  • our financial statement audits of agencies in the Education cluster for 2018
  • the areas of focus identified in the Audit Office work program.

The Audit Office Annual Work Program provides a summary of all audits to be conducted within the proposed time period as well as detailed information on the areas of focus for each of the NSW Government clusters.

Observation Conclusions and recommendations
3.1  Internal controls
Twenty internal control deficiencies were identified during our audits of cluster agencies. We assessed one as a high risk finding.  
Eight internal control weaknesses were repeat issues from previous financial audits that had not been fully addressed by management. Recommendation: Management should prioritise and action recommendations to address internal control weaknesses.
3.2 Information technology
Delivery of the Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) program is complete.

The LMBR program has been a major project for the Department since it was established in 2006.

A staged approach was adopted for implementing the Department’s new HR/Payroll system to manage the risks associated with this large-scale roll-out.

3.3 Valuation of the Department’s land and buildings
The Department completed a revaluation of land and building assets during 2017–18.

A market approach was used to revalue the Department’s land, resulting in a revaluation increment of $2.3 billion.

A current replacement cost approach was used to revalue the Department’s school buildings, resulting in an increment of $6.2 billion.

3.4 Maintenance of school facilities
The Department regularly assesses the condition of school buildings and uses Life Cycle Costing to predict maintenance and capital renewal, and to prioritise maintenance activities. The Life Cycle Costing assessment conducted by the Department in 2017–18 rated 70 per cent of school buildings as being in either as new or good condition. No school buildings were rated as being in end-of-life condition.
3.4 School asset delivery
The Department’s School Assets Strategic Plan is designed to ensure that there are sufficient fit-for-purpose places for students up to 2031. The Department created a new division, School Infrastructure NSW, to oversee the planning, supply and maintenance of schools and implement major school infrastructure projects.

This chapter provides service delivery outcomes for the Education cluster for 2017–18. It provides important contextual information about the cluster's operation, but the data on achievement of these outcomes is not audited. The Audit Office does not have a specific mandate to audit performance information.

Published

Actions for Transport 2018

Transport 2018

Transport
Asset valuation
Compliance
Financial reporting
Infrastructure
Management and administration
Procurement
Risk
Service delivery
Workforce and capability

The Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford released her report today on key observations and findings from the 30 June 2018 financial statement audits of agencies in the Transport cluster. Unqualified audit opinions were issued for all agencies' financial statements. However, assessing the fair value of the broad range of transport related assets creates challenges.

This report analyses the results of our audits of financial statements of the Transport cluster for the year ended 30 June 2018. The table below summarises our key observations.

This report provides Parliament and other users of the Transport cluster’s financial statements with the results of our audits, our observations, analysis, conclusions and recommendations in the following areas:

  • financial reporting
  • audit observations.

Financial reporting is an important element of good governance. Confidence and transparency in public sector decision making are enhanced when financial reporting is accurate and timely.

This chapter outlines our audit observations related to the financial reporting of agencies in the Transport cluster for 2018.

Observation Conclusions and recommendations
2.1 Quality of financial reporting
Unqualified audit opinions were issued for all agencies' financial statements Sufficient audit evidence was obtained to conclude the financial statements were free of material misstatement.
2.2 Key accounting issues
Valuation of assets continues to create challenges. Although agencies complied with the requirements of the accounting standards and Treasury policies on valuations, we identified some opportunities for improvements at RMS.

RMS incorporated data from its asset condition assessments for the first time in the valuation methodology which improved the valuation outcome. Overall, we were satisfied with the valuation methodology and key assumptions, but we noted some deficiencies in the asset data in relation to asset component unit rates and old condition data for some components of assets. 

Also, a bypass and tunnel were incorrectly excluded from RMS records and valuation process since 2013. This resulted in an increase for these assets’ value by $133 million.

The valuation inputs for Wetlands and Moorings were revised this year to better reflect the assets' characteristics resulting in a $98.0 million increase.

2.3 Timeliness of financial reporting
Residual Transport Corporation did not submit its financial statements by the statutory reporting deadline. Residual Transport Corporation remained a dormant entity with no transactions for the year ended 30 June 2018.
With the exception of Residual Transport Corporation, all agencies completed early close procedures and submitted financial statements within statutory timeframes. Early close procedures allow financial reporting issues and risks to be addressed early in the reporting and audit process.
2.4 Financial sustainability
NSW Trains and the Chief Investigator of the Office of Transport Safety Investigations reported negative net assets of $75.7 million and $89,000 respectively at 30 June 2018.  NSW Trains and the Chief Investigator of the Office of Transport Safety Investigations continue to require letters of financial support to confirm their ability to pay liabilities as they fall due. 
2.5 Passenger revenue and patronage
Transport agencies revenue growth increased at a higher rate than patronage. Public transport passenger revenue increased by $114 million (8.3 per cent) in 2017–18, and patronage increased by 37.1 million (5.1 per cent) across all modes of transport based on data provided by TfNSW. 
Negative balance Opal Cards resulted in $3.8 million in revenue not collected in 2017–18 and $7.8 million since the introduction of Opal. A total of 1.1 million Opal cards issued since its introduction have negative balances. Transport for NSW advised it is liaising with the ticketing vendor to implement system changes and are investigating other ways to reduce the occurrences.
2.6 Cost recovery from public transport users
Overall cost recovery from users has decreased. Overall cost recovery from public transport users (on rail and bus services by STA) decreased from 23.2 per cent to 22.4 per cent between 2016–17 and 2017–18. The main reason for the decrease is due to expenditure increasing at a faster rate than revenue in 2017–18.


 

Appropriate financial controls help ensure the efficient and effective use of resources and administration of agency policies. They are essential for quality and timely decision making.

This chapter outlines our observations and insights from:

  • our financial statement audits of agencies in the Transport cluster for 2018
  • the areas of focus identified in the Audit Office annual work program.

The Audit Office Annual Work Program provides a summary of all audits to be conducted within the proposed time period as well as detailed information on the areas of focus for each of the NSW Government clusters. 

Observation Conclusions and recommendations
3.1 Internal controls 
There was an increase in findings on internal controls across the Transport cluster. Key themes related to information technology, employee leave entitlements and asset management. Eighteen per cent of all issues were repeat issues.
3.2 Audit Office Annual work program
The Transport cluster wrote-off over $200 million of assets which were replaced by new assets or technology.

Majority of this write-off was recognised by RMS, with $199 million relating to the write-off of existing assets which have been replaced during the year. 

RailCorp is expected to convert to TAHE from 1 July 2019. Several working groups are considering different aspects of the TAHE transition including its status as a for-profit Public Trading Enterprise and which assets to transfer to TAHE. We will continue to monitor developments on TAHE for any impact to the financial statements.
RMS' estimated maintenance backlog at 30 June 2018 of $3.4 billion is lower than last year. Sydney Trains' estimated maintenance backlog at 30 June 2018 increased by 20.6 per cent to $434 million. TfNSW does not quantify its backlog maintenance. TfNSW advised it is liaising with Infrastructure NSW to develop a consistent definition of maintenance backlog across all transport service providers. 
Not all agencies monitor unplanned maintenance across the Transport cluster. Unplanned maintenance can be more expensive than planned maintenance. TfNSW should develop a consistent approach to define, monitor and track unplanned maintenance across the cluster.

This chapter outlines certain service delivery outcomes for 2017–18. The data on activity levels and performance is provided by Cluster agencies. The Audit Office does not have a specific mandate to audit performance information. Accordingly, the information in this chapter is unaudited. 

We report this information on service delivery to provide additional context to understand the operations of the Transport cluster and to collate and present service information for different modes of transport in one report. 

In our recent performance audit, Progress and measurement of Premier's Priorities, we identified 12 limitations of performance measurement and performance data. We recommended that the Department of Premier and Cabinet ensure that processes to check and verify data are in place for all agency data sources.

Published

Actions for Internal Controls and Governance 2018

Internal Controls and Governance 2018

Education
Community Services
Finance
Health
Industry
Justice
Planning
Premier and Cabinet
Transport
Treasury
Whole of Government
Environment
Compliance
Cyber security
Financial reporting
Fraud
Information technology
Internal controls and governance
Management and administration
Procurement
Project management

The Auditor-General for New South Wales Margaret Crawford found that as NSW state government agencies’ digital footprint increases they need to do more to address new and emerging information technology (IT) risks. This is one of the key findings to emerge from the second stand-alone report on internal controls and governance of the 40 largest NSW state government agencies.

This report analyses the internal controls and governance of the 40 largest agencies in the NSW public sector for the year ended 30 June 2018.

This report covers the findings and recommendations from our 2017–18 financial audits that relate to internal controls and governance at the 40 largest agencies (refer to Appendix three) in the NSW public sector.

This report offers insights into internal controls and governance in the NSW public sector

This is our second report dedicated to internal controls and governance at NSW State Government agencies. The report provides insights into the effectiveness of controls and governance processes in the NSW public sector by:

  • highlighting the potential risks posed by weaknesses in controls and governance processes
  • helping agencies benchmark the adequacy of their processes against their peers
  • focusing on new and emerging risks, and the internal controls and governance processes that might address those risks.

Without strong governance systems and internal controls, agencies increase the risks associated with effectively managing their finances and delivering services to citizens. The way agencies deliver services increasingly relies on contracts and partnerships with the private sector. Many of these arrangements deliver front line services, but others provide less visible back office support. For example, an agency may rely on an IT service provider to manage a key system used to provide services to the community. The contract and service level agreements are only truly effective where they are actively managed to reduce risks to continuous quality service delivery, such as interruptions caused by system outages, cyber security attacks and data security breaches.

Our audits do not review all aspects of internal controls and governance every year. We select a range of measures, and report on those that present heightened risks for agencies to mitigate. This report divides these into the following five areas:

  1. Internal control trends
  2. Information technology (IT), including IT vendor management
  3. Transparency and performance reporting
  4. Management of purchasing cards and taxis
  5. Fraud and corruption control.

The findings in this report should not be used to draw conclusions on the effectiveness of individual agency control environments and governance arrangements. Specific financial reporting, controls and service delivery comments are included in the individual 2018 cluster financial audit reports, which will be tabled in Parliament from November to December 2018.

The focus of the report has changed since last year

Last year's report topics included asset management, ethics and conduct, and risk management. We are reporting on new topics this year. We plan to introduce new topics and re-visit our previous topics in subsequent reports on a cyclical basis. This will provide a baseline against which to measure the NSW public sectors’ progress in implementing appropriate internal controls and governance processes to mitigate existing, new and emerging risks in the public sector.

Agencies selected for the volume account for 95 per cent of the state's expenditure

While we have covered only 40 agencies in this report, those selected are a large enough group to identify common issues and insights. They represent about 95 per cent of total expenditure for all NSW public sector agencies.

Internal controls are processes, policies and procedures that help agencies to:

  • operate effectively and efficiently
  • produce reliable financial reports
  • comply with laws and regulations
  • support ethical government.

This chapter outlines the overall trends for agency controls and governance issues, including the number of findings, level of risk and the most common deficiencies we found across agencies. The rest of this volume presents this year’s controls and governance findings in more detail.

Observation Conclusions and recommendations
2.1 High risk findings
We found six high risk findings (seven in 2016–17), one of which was repeated from both last year and 2015–16. Recommendation: Agencies should reduce risk by addressing high risk internal control deficiencies as a priority.
2.2 Common findings
We found several internal controls and governance findings common to multiple agencies. Conclusion: Central agencies or the lead agency in a cluster can play a lead role in helping ensure agency responses to common findings are consistent, timely, efficient and effective.
2.3 New and repeat findings
Although internal control deficiencies decreased over the last four years, this year has seen a 42 per cent increase in internal control deficiencies. The increase in new IT control deficiencies and repeat IT control deficiencies signifies an emerging risk for agencies.
IT control deficiencies feature in this increase, having risen by 63 per cent since last year. The number of repeat IT control deficiencies has doubled and is driven by the increasing digital footprint left by agencies as government prioritises on-line interfaces with citizens, and the number of transactions conducted through digital channels increases

Recommendation: Agencies should reduce IT risks by:

  • assigning ownership of recommendations to address IT control deficiencies, with timeframes and actions plans for implementation
  • ensuring audit and risk committees and agency management regularly monitor the implementation status of recommendations.

 

Government agencies’ financial reporting is now heavily reliant on information technology (IT). IT is also increasingly important to the delivery of agency services. These systems often provide the data to help monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of agency processes and services they deliver. Our audits reviewed whether agencies have effective controls in place to manage both key financial systems and IT service contracts.

Observation Conclusions and recommendations
3.1 Management of IT vendors
Contract management framework 
Although 87 per cent of agencies have a contract management policy to manage IT vendors, one fifth require review.
 

Conclusion: Agencies can more effectively manage IT vendor contracts by developing policies and procedures to ensure vendor management frameworks are kept up to date, plans are in place to manage vendor performance and risk, and compliance with the framework is monitored by:

  • internal audit focusing on key contracting activities
  • experienced officers who are independent of contract administration performing spot checks or peer reviews
  • targeted analysis of data in contract registers.
Contract risk management
Forty-one per cent of agencies are not using contract management plans and do not assess contract risks. Half of the agencies that did assess contract risks, had not updated the risk assessments since the commencement of the contract.
 
Conclusion: Instead of applying a 'set and forget' approach in relation to management of contract risks, agencies should assess risk regularly and develop a plan to actively manage identified risks throughout the contract lifecycle - from negotiation and commencement, to termination.

Performance management
Eighty-six per cent of agencies meet with vendors to discuss performance. 

Only 24 per cent of agencies sought assurance about the accuracy of vendor reporting against KPIs, yet sixty-seven per cent of the IT contracts allow agencies to determine performance based payments and/or penalise underperformance.

Conclusion: Agencies are monitoring IT vendor performance, but could improve outcomes and more effectively manage under-performance by:

  • a more active, rigorous approach to both risk and performance management
  • checking the accuracy of vendor reporting against those KPIs and where appropriate seeking assurance over their accuracy
  • invoking performance based payments clauses in contracts when performance falls below agreed standards.

Transitioning services
Forty-three per cent of the IT vendor contracts did not contain transitioning-out provisions.

Where IT vendor contracts do make provision for transitioning-out, only 28 per cent of agencies have developed a transitioning-out plan with their IT vendor.

Conclusion: Contract transition/phase out clauses and plans can mitigate risks to service disruption, ensure internal controls remain in place, avoid unnecessary costs and reduce the risk of 'vendor lock-in'.
Contract Registers
Eleven out of forty agencies did not have a contract register, or have registers that are not accurate and/or complete.

Conclusion: A contract register helps to manage an agency’s compliance obligations under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (the GIPA Act). However, it also helps agencies more effectively manage IT vendors by:

  • monitoring contract end dates and contract extensions, and commence new procurements through their central procurement teams in a timely manner
  • managing their contractual commitments, budgeting and cash flow requirements.

Recommendation: Agencies should ensure their contract registers are complete and accurate so they can more effectively govern contracts and manage compliance obligations.

3.2 IT general controls
Governance
Ninety-five per cent of agencies have established policies to manage key IT processes and functions within the agency, with ten per cent of those due for review.
 
Conclusion: Regular review of IT policies ensures risks are considered and appropriate strategies and procedures are implemented to manage these risks on a consistent basis. An absence of policies can lead to ad-hoc responses to risks, and failure to consider emerging IT risks and changes to agency IT environments. 

User access administration
Seventy-two deficiencies were identified related to user access administration, including:

  • thirty issues related to granting user access across 43 per cent of agencies
  • sixteen issues related to removing user access across 30 per cent of agencies
  • twenty-six issues related to periodic reviews of user access across 50 per cent of agencies.
Recommendation: Agencies should strengthen the administration of user access to prevent inappropriate access to key systems.
Privileged access
Forty per cent of agencies do not periodically review logs of the activities of privileged users to identify suspicious or unauthorised activities.

Recommendation: Agencies should:

  • review the number of, and access granted to privileged users, and assess and document the risks associated with their activities
  • monitor user access to address risks from unauthorised activity.
Password controls
Twenty-three per cent of agencies did not comply with their own policy on password parameters.
Recommendation: Agencies should ensure IT password settings comply with their password policies.
Program changes
Fifteen per cent of agencies had deficient IT program change controls mainly related to segregation of duties and authorisation and testing of IT program changes prior to deployment.
Recommendation: Agencies should maintain appropriate segregation of duties in their IT functions and test system changes before they are deployed.

 

This chapter outlines our audit observations, conclusions and recommendations from our review of how agencies reported their performance in their 2016–17 annual reports. The Annual Reports (Statutory Bodies) Regulation 2015 and Annual Reports (Departments) Regulation 2015 (annual reports regulation) currently prescribes the minimum requirements for agency annual reports.

Observation Conclusion or recommendation
4.1 Reporting on performance

Only 57 per cent of agencies linked reporting on performance to their strategic objectives.

The use of targets and reporting performance over time was limited and applied inconsistently.

Conclusion: There is significant disparity in the quality and consistency of how agencies report on their performance in their annual reports. This limits the reliability and transparency of reported performance information.

Agencies could improve performance reporting by clearly linking strategic objectives to reported outcomes, and reporting on performance against targets over time. NSW Treasury may need to provide more guidance to agencies to support consistent and high-quality performance reporting in annual reports.

There is no independent assurance that the performance metrics agencies report in their annual reports are accurate.

Prior performance audits have noted issues related to the collection of performance information. For example, our 2016 Report on Red Tape Reduction highlighted inaccuracies in how the dollar-value of red tape reduction had been reported.

Conclusion: The ability of Parliament and the public to rely on reported information as a relevant and accurate reflection of an agency's performance is limited.

The relevance and accuracy of performance information is enhanced when:

  • policies and guidance support the consistent and accurate collection of data
  • internal review processes and management oversight are effective
  • independent review processes are established to provide effective challenge to the assumptions, judgements and methodology used to collect the reported performance information.
4.2 Reporting on reports

Agency reporting on major projects does not meet the requirements of the annual reports regulation.

Forty-seven per cent of agencies did not report on costs to date and estimated completion dates for major works in progress. Of the 47 per cent of agencies that reported on major works, only one agency reported detail about significant cost overruns, delays, amendments, deferments or cancellations.

NSW Treasury produce an annual report checklist to help agencies comply with their annual report obligations.

Recommendation: Agencies should comply with the annual reports regulation and report on all mandatory fields, including significant cost overruns and delays, for their major works in progress.

The information the annual reports regulation requires agencies to report deals only with major works in progress. There is no requirement to report on completed works.

Sixteen of 30 agencies reported some information on completed major works.

Conclusion: Agencies could improve their transparency if they reported, or were required to report:

  • on both works in progress and projects completed during the year
  • actual costs and completion dates, and forecast completion dates for major works, against original and revised budgets and original expected completion dates
  • explanations for significant cost overruns, delays and key project performance metrics.

 

This chapter outlines our audit observations, conclusions and recommendations, arising from our review of agency preventative and detective controls over purchasing card and taxi use for 2017–18.

Observation Conclusion or recommendation
5.1 Management of purchasing cards
Volume of credit card spend
Purchasing card expenditure has increased by 76 per cent over the last four years in response to a government review into the cost savings possible from using purchasing cards for low value, high volume procurement.
 
Conclusion: The increasing use of purchasing cards highlights the importance of an effective framework for the use and management of purchasing cards.
Policy framework
We found all agencies that held purchasing cards had a policy in place, but 26 per cent of agencies have not reviewed their purchasing card policy by the scheduled date, or do not have a scheduled revision date stated within their policy.
Recommendation: Agencies should mitigate the risks associated with increased purchasing card use by ensuring policies and purchasing card frameworks remain current and compliant with the core requirements of TPP 17–09 'Use and Management of NSW Government Purchasing Cards'.
Preventative controls
We found that:
  • all agencies maintained purchasing card registers
  • seventy-six per cent provided training to cardholders prior to being issued with a card
  • eighty-nine per cent appointed a program administrator, but only half of these had clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • thirty-two per cent of agencies place merchant blocks on purchasing cards
  • forty-seven per cent of agencies place geographic restrictions on purchasing cards.

Agencies have designed and implemented preventative controls aimed at deterring the potential misuse of purchasing cards.

Conclusion: Further opportunities exist for agencies to better control the use of purchasing cards, such as:

  • updating purchasing card registers to contain all mandatory fields required by TPP17–09
  • appointing a program administrator for the agency's purchasing card framework and defining their role and responsibility for the function
  • strengthening preventive controls to prevent misuse.

Detective controls
Ninety-two per cent of agencies have designed and implemented at least one control to monitor purchasing card activity.

Major reviews, such as data analytics (29 per cent of agencies) and independent spot checks (49 per cent of agencies) are not widely used.

Agencies have designed and implemented detective controls aimed at identifying potential misuse of purchasing cards.

Conclusion: More effective monitoring using purchasing card data can provide better visibility over spending activity and can be used to:

  • detect misuse and investigate exceptions
  • analyse trends to highlight cost saving opportunities.
5.2 Management of taxis
Policy framework
Thirteen per cent of agencies have not developed and implemented a policy to manage taxi use. In addition:
  • a further 41 per cent of agencies have not reviewed their policies by the scheduled revision date, or do not have a scheduled revision date
  • more than half of all agencies’ policies do not offer alternative travel options. For example, only 36 per cent of policies promoted the use of general Opal cards.
Conclusion: Agencies can promote savings and provide more options to staff where their taxi use policies:
  • limit the circumstances where taxi use is appropriate
  • offer alternate, lower cost options to using taxis, such as general Opal cards and rideshare.
Detective controls
All agencies approve taxi expenditure by expense reimbursement, purchasing card and Cabcharge, and have implemented controls around this approval process. However, beyond this there is minimal monitoring and review activity, such as data monitoring, independent spot checks or internal audit reviews.
Conclusion: Taxi spend at agencies is not significant in terms of its dollar value, but it is significant from a probity perspective. Agencies can better address the probity risk by incorporating taxi use into a broader purchasing card or fraud monitoring program.

 

Fraud and corruption control is one of the 17 key elements of our governance lighthouse. Recent reports from ICAC into state agencies and local government councils highlight the need for effective fraud control and ethical frameworks. Effective frameworks can help protect an agency from events that risk serious reputational damage and financial loss.

Our 2016 Fraud Survey found the NSW Government agencies we surveyed reported 1,077 frauds over the three year period to 30 June 2015. For those frauds where an estimate of losses was made, the reported value exceeded $10.0 million. The report also highlighted that the full extent of fraud in the NSW public sector could be higher than reported because:

  • unreported frauds in organisations can be almost three times the number of reported frauds
  • our 2015 survey did not include all NSW public sector agencies, nor did it include any NSW universities or local councils
  • fraud committed by citizens such as fare evasion and fraudulent state tax self-assessments was not within the scope of our 2015 survey
  • agencies did not estimate a value for 599 of the 1,077 (56 per cent) reported frauds.

Commissioning and outsourcing of services to the private sector and the advancement of digital technology are changing the fraud and corruption risks agencies face. Fraud risk assessments should be updated regularly and in particular where there are changes in agency business models. NSW Treasury Circular TC18-02 NSW Fraud and Corruption Control Policy now requires agencies develop, implement and maintain a fraud and corruption control framework, effective from 1 July 2018. 

Our Fraud Control Improvement Kit provides guidance and practical advice to help organisations implement an effective fraud control framework. The kit is divided into ten attributes. Three key attributes have been assessed below; prevention, detection and notification systems.

This chapter outlines our audit observations, conclusions and recommendations, arising from our review of agency fraud and corruption controls for 2017–18.

Observation Conclusion or recommendation
6.1 Prevention systems

Prevention systems
Ninety-two per cent of agencies have a fraud control plan in place, 81 per cent maintain a fraud database and 79 per cent report fraud and corruption matters as a standing item on audit and risk committee agendas.

Only 54 per cent of agencies have an employment screening policy and all agencies have IT security policies, but gaps in IT security controls could undermine their policies.

Conclusion: Most agencies have implemented fraud prevention systems to reduce the risk of fraud. However poor IT security along with other gaps in agency prevention systems, such as employment screening practices heightens the risk of fraud and inappropriate use of data.

Agencies can improve their fraud prevention systems by:

  • completing regular fraud risk assessments, embedding fraud risk assessment into their enterprise risk management process and reporting the results of the assessment to the audit and risk committee
  • maintaining a fraud database and reviewing it regularly for systemic issues and reporting a redacted version of the database on the agency's website to inform corruption prevention networks
  • developing policies and procedures for employee screening and benchmarking their current processes against ICAC's publication ‘Strengthening Employment Screening Practices in the NSW Public Sector’
  • developing and maintaining up to date IT security policies and monitoring compliance with the policy.
Twenty-three per cent of agencies were not performing fraud risk assessments and some agency fraud risk assessments may not be as robust as they could be.  Conclusion: Agencies' systems of internal controls may be less effective where new and emerging fraud risks have been overlooked, or known weaknesses have not been rectified.
6.2 Detection systems
Detection systems
Several agencies reported they were developing a data monitoring program, but only 38 per cent of agencies had already implemented a program.
 

Studies have shown data monitoring, whereby entire populations of transactional data are analysed for indicators of fraudulent activity, is one of the most effective methods of early detection. Early detection decreases the duration a fraud remains undetected thereby limiting the extent of losses.

Conclusion: Data monitoring is an effective tool for early detection of fraud and is more effective when informed by a comprehensive fraud risk assessment.

6.3 Notification systems
Notification system
All agencies have notification systems for reporting actual or suspected fraud and corruption. Most agencies provide multiple reporting lines, provide training and publicise options for staff to report actual or suspected fraud and corruption.
Conclusion: Training staff about their obligations and the use of fraud notification systems promotes a fraud-aware culture

 

Published

Actions for Education 2016

Education 2016

Education
Asset valuation
Compliance
Financial reporting
Fraud
Information technology
Internal controls and governance
Procurement
Project management

The Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford released a report today highlighting the impact of the growing student population on school infrastructure and the increasing cost of psychological injury workers' compensation claims in Education. The report also gives updates on an initiative designed to create new out of school hours care (OSHC) places and on the expected final cost and completion date for the Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) program.

Published

Actions for Planning and Environment 2016

Planning and Environment 2016

Planning
Environment
Asset valuation
Compliance
Financial reporting
Fraud
Information technology
Internal controls and governance
Project management

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.

Published

Actions for Transport 2016

Transport 2016

Transport
Asset valuation
Compliance
Financial reporting
Fraud
Information technology
Internal controls and governance
Procurement
Project management

Financial reporting within the Transport Cluster continues to improve with reported misstatements down 96 per cent since 2011-12 to just three in 2015-16, according to a report released today by the NSW Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford.

Published

Actions for CBD and South East Light Rail Project

CBD and South East Light Rail Project

Transport
Compliance
Financial reporting
Infrastructure
Internal controls and governance
Management and administration
Procurement
Project management
Risk

Transport for NSW did not effectively plan and procure the CBD and South East Light Rail (CSELR) project to achieve best value for money according to a report released today by NSW Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford.

Transport for NSW is on track to deliver the project, but it will come at a higher cost with lower benefits than in the approved business case.

 

Parliamentary reference - Report number #278 - released 30 November 2016

Published

Actions for Fraud Survey

Fraud Survey

Education
Community Services
Finance
Health
Industry
Justice
Local Government
Planning
Premier and Cabinet
Transport
Treasury
Universities
Whole of Government
Environment
Fraud
Information technology
Internal controls and governance
Procurement
Risk

In a report released today, the NSW Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford provides a snapshot of reported fraud in the NSW public sector and an analysis of NSW Government agencies’ fraud controls based on a survey of 102 agencies.

Published

Actions for Implementation of the NSW Government’s program evaluation initiative

Implementation of the NSW Government’s program evaluation initiative

Industry
Justice
Planning
Premier and Cabinet
Treasury
Environment
Financial reporting
Internal controls and governance
Management and administration
Risk
Service delivery
Shared services and collaboration
Workforce and capability

The NSW Government’s ‘program evaluation initiative’, introduced to assess whether service delivery programs achieve expected outcomes and value for money, is largely ineffective according to a report released today by NSW Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford.

Government services, in areas such as public order and safety, health and education, are delivered by agencies through a variety of programs. In 2016–17, the NSW Government estimates that it will spend over $73 billion on programs to deliver services.

 

Parliamentary reference - Report number #277 - released 3 November 2016

Published

Actions for Early childhood education

Early childhood education

Education
Compliance
Information technology
Management and administration
Project management
Regulation
Risk
Service delivery
Workforce and capability

Enrolments in quality early childhood education programs in New South Wales are increasing but are below the national benchmark, according to a report released today by the NSW Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford.

Ninety-five per cent of children should be enrolled in at least 600 hours in the year before school, but according to the latest NSW figures 77 per cent of children were enrolled in quality early childhood education programs. This 2015 figure is below the benchmark, but is a significant improvement on 2013 when 59 per cent were enrolled.

 

Parliamentary reference - Report number #271 - released 26 May 2016