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Requests for audit

In addition to legislatively mandated audits, the Auditor-General may be asked to perform other audit and related services by auditees, the Treasurer, ministers, the Office of Local Government within the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and both Houses of Parliament. Requests can be made under section 27B(3) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 or section 421E of the Local Government Act 1993. The requests include audits/reviews of special purpose financial statements, performance audits/reviews, compliance audits/reviews or acquittals of grant funding received by agencies/councils. 

When requests are made under section 27B(3) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 the Auditor-General is generally required to act on the request. Engagements may be requested as a one-off arrangement, or as an annually recurring service.

Requests made under section 421E of the Local Government Act 1993 are at the discretion of the Auditor-General. Most requests are from local councils requiring an audit to satisfy a legislative or contractual obligation. However, requests for audit can also be made on a voluntary basis. All requests for audit made on a voluntary basis since 1 January 2021 are published here.

The Audit Office also receives requests and suggestions for audits from Members of the Parliament of New South Wales. Decisions to undertake audits based on these requests or suggestions are assessed in the context of the Auditor-General's current and future audit program. All requests from Members of Parliament since 1 July 2019 are published here.

Requests for audit from Members of Parliament (since 1 July 2019) and voluntary requests for audit from local councils (since 1 January 2021)

Requested by: Mr Jihad Dib MP, Member for Lakemba
Request date: 31 March 2021
Details:

The Member wrote to the Auditor-General requesting the Audit Office examine:

  • the process by which the TAFE NSW site on Flemington Drive, Scone was identified as surplus to TAFE NSW
  • the divestment process, including compliance with the NSW Government’s Strategic Land and Property Framework
  • compliance with the NSW Unsolicited Proposals Guide for Submission and Assessment
  • any other matters that the Auditor-General believes are of concern.
Response:

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 16 April 2021.

The Auditor-General advised that due to the Audit Office’s finite resources, it must target its efforts to make the most of what it has at its disposal. As outlined in the 2020-21 annual work program, the Auditor-General has a current focus on government responses to recent emergencies including bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Auditor-General advised that she is giving the Member’s request close consideration and seeking further information on the matters raised.

Status: Matters remains under consideration
Requested by: Mr Darcy Byrne, Mayor, Inner West Council
Request date: 16 March 2021
Details: The Mayor of Inner West Council wrote to the Auditor-General requesting a performance audit into the heritage upgrade of the Dawn Fraser Baths by Inner West Council.
Response:

The Auditor-General responded to the Mayor on 16 April 2021.

The Auditor-General advised that due to the Audit Office’s finite resources, it must target its efforts to make the most of what it has at its disposal. As outlined in the 2020-21 annual work program, the Auditor-General has chosen to focus the work program on local and state government responses to recent emergencies including bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the Auditor-General advised that the Audit Office was unable to commit at this time to conducting a performance audit of the kind requested.

The Auditor-General recognised there may be learnings that can be gained from reviewing a project such as the upgrade of the Dawn Fraser Baths. To this end, the Auditor-General suggested it may be a matter that, in consultation with Council’s Audit Risk and Improvement Committee, Council’s internal auditors could review.

Status: Not proceeding
Requested by: Mr Adam Searle MLC
Request date: 11 March 2021
Details: The Member wrote to the Auditor-General requesting an examination of matters relating to the CEO of Landcom and Landcom’s acquisition of property at Wilton, including consideration of probity and governance arrangements in place to manage any questions regarding potential conflicts of interest, and the value for money proposition proposed by the acquisition.
Status: Under consideration
Requested by: Mr Gurmesh Singh MP, Member for Coffs Harbour
Request date: 3 February 2021
Details: The Member requested the Auditor-General investigate a constituent’s concerns regarding the alleged illegal dumping and unsafe handling of asbestos by Coffs Harbour City Council. 
Response:

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 11 March 2021.

The Auditor-General advised the Audit Office is currently undertaking a review of its forward work program and will carefully consider whether this matter warrants further attention through the performance audit program. The relevant team will undertake some preliminary inquiries to assist in this decision.

Status: Matter remains under consideration
Requested by: The Hon. Andrew Constance MP,  Minister for Transport and Roads
Request date:  17 November 2020
Details:

The Minister requested a performance audit be conducted that examines:

  • whether Transport for NSW conducted an effective process to purchase 4-6 Grand Avenue, Camellia; and
  • whether Transport for NSW has effective processes and procedures to identify and acquire the property required to deliver the NSW Government's major infrastructure projects.
Response:

The Minister made the request under section 27B(3)(c) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983. The Auditor-General is required to act on requests made under this section of the Act. The audit criteria and scope in response to the Minister’s request will be finalised shortly.

Status: In progress
Requested by: Mr Greg Warren MP, Member for Campbelltown
Request date: 23 September 2020
Details:

The Member requested the Audit Office examine whether due process was followed regarding property acquisitions in relation to the Western Sydney Airport. 

The Member referred the Auditor-General to articles from the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph on 21 September 2020 referencing the federal government’s purchase of a property in Bringelly. The Member notes that while the property in question was purchased by the federal government, the state government has also undertaken property purchases as part of this project.

The Member requested that the Auditor-General look into every property purchased by the NSW Government in relation to the construction of the Western Sydney Airport to ensure they weren’t purchased at an inflated or deflated price. 

Response:

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 15 October 2020. 

The Auditor-General advised that, given their likely scale, land valuations and acquisitions for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis would be subject to review as part of the financial statement audits of relevant agencies for the years in which the transactions occur.

In addition, the Auditor-General’s work program for 2021–22 includes a performance audit of the Western Sydney City Deal that encompasses the development of the Aerotropolis. This audit would consider the NSW Government’s and local councils’ role in contributing to the planning and implementation process. This work may include consideration of processes to purchase land connected with the airport development.

Status: The processes to purchase land connected with the Western Sydney Aerotropolis will be considered when determining the scope of the performance audit looking at the Western Sydney City Deal scheduled for 2021-22. 
Requested by: Ms Sophie Cotsis MP, Member for Canterbury
Request date: 29 August 2020
Details:

The Member referred the Auditor-General to an article from iTnews dated 28 August 2020, which reported more than 108,000 images of driver licences being accessible through unsecured cloud storage. 

The Member requested the Auditor-General consider pursuing one of the following actions:

  1. expanding the scope of the performance audit into Service NSW’s handling of personal information
  2. undertaking a separate performance audit in relation to this matter; or
  3. ensuring this matter is examined in detail as part of the Auditor-General’s annual work program for 2020-21.
Response:

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 7 September 2020.

The Auditor-General understands that the matter has been referred to both the NSW and Commonwealth Information and Privacy Commissioners and will monitor their response.

The performance audit of Service NSW’s handling of personal information is underway and is due to be tabled in Parliament later this year. This audit was requested by the Minister for Customer Service under section 27B(3)(c) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 and accordingly, the scope cannot be changed.

As outlined in the Annual Work Program, the Auditor-General is continuing to focus on cyber security through performance, compliance and financial audits of both the State and local government sectors.

Status:

The Auditor-General will monitor the response by the NSW and Commonwealth Information and Privacy Commissioners in relation to the specific matter.

Cyber security remains a focus of the Auditor-General through her Annual Work Program.

Requested by: Mr Clayton Barr MP, Member for Cessnock
Request date: 24 August 2020
Details: The Member requested the Audit Office consider including a review of the NSW Government’s actions, expenditure, and implementation of drought response and drought resilience measures on the Auditor-General’s forward audit program.
Response:

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 11 September 2020.

The Auditor-General advised the Member of an upcoming performance audit report on Support for Regional Town Water Infrastructure, which will be tabled in September 2020. This audit has assessed the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment’s support for the planning and funding of town water infrastructure in regional NSW towns and cities.

The Auditor-General’s work program for 2020–21 includes an audit of investment in regional development, which may include consideration of some NSW Government programs related to drought resilience. The three-year performance audit program also includes a proposed audit of water management and regulation. This is planned to commence from 2021–22 and may cover the NSW Government’s actions to manage the impacts of, and build resilience for, a variable climate that includes prolonged dry periods.

Status: The Audit Office will continue to monitor developments in this area when scoping and planning relevant audits on the Auditor-General’s work program.
Requested by: Mr John Graham MLC
Request date: 11 August 2020
Details:

The Member requested the Auditor-General investigate the practice of vehicle owners referring mobile phone detection penalties to companies to 'avoid taking personal responsibility for fines and demerit points'.

The Member requested the investigation determine 'the nature and extent of the problem' and for the Auditor-General to indicate 'the best way to close this loophole'.

Response:

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 26 August 2020.

The Auditor-General’s planned audit program for 2021-22 to 2022-23 includes a performance audit on Road Safety. As demerit point offences are intended as a road safety measure, the Auditor-General will consider including in this audit an assessment of whether Revenue NSW is meeting its responsibilities regarding the administration of demerit point offences.

Status: The administration of demerit point offences by Revenue NSW will be considered for inclusion in the planned performance audit on Road Safety.
Requested by Mr Greg Warren MP, Member for Campbelltown
Request date 6 July 2020
Details

The Member requested the Auditor-General conduct an investigation into the:

  • planning of the ‘Stronger Communities Fund – Tied Grants Program’ (the Program) and its guidelines
  • notification of the Program to eligible councils
  • assessment of project applications
  • selection criteria of successful applications
  • distribution of funding to the successful applications
  • general administration and governance of the Program by the NSW Government and the Office of Local Government, as the responsible agency.
Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 10 July 2020.

The Auditor-General is planning to commence a performance audit of grants administration in selected NSW Government agencies during the 2020-21 financial year. This audit may include assessing whether selected grants programs are being effectively targeted, administered and delivered. At this initial stage, the Auditor-General has determined the Stronger Communities Fund will be included in the selection of grants programs for this audit.

Status At this initial stage, the Program will be subject to audit within the performance audit of grants administration scheduled for 2020-21. 
Requested by Mr Michael Veitch MLC
Request date 30 June 2020
Details

The Member requested the Audit Office of New South Wales undertake:

  • a compliance audit to assess whether appropriate probity standards were upheld during the NSW Government’s awarding of $16 million to Country UC Limited for the establishment and operation of regional study hubs known as Country University Centres (CUCs)
  • a performance audit to assess whether the public money awarded to Country UC Limited has resulted in substantial public outcomes.
Response:

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 24 July 2020.

The Auditor-General is planning to commence a performance audit looking at investment in regional development during the 2020-21 financial year. This audit may consider whether regional development and grant programs are well coordinated and delivering improvements. At this initial stage, the matters raised by the Member will be carefully considered when determining the audit scope.

Status At this initial stage, the matters raised by the Member will be considered when determining the scope of the performance audit looking at investment in regional development scheduled for 2020-21. 
Requested by Ms Sophie Cotsis MP, Member for Canterbury
Request date 27 May 2020
Details

The Member requested the Auditor-General examine the NSW Department of Customer Service’s cyber security systems to assess:

  • the effectiveness of current cyber security infrastructure in combating cyber attacks
  • the level of defence to protect private and sensitive customer information
  • procedure for reporting data breaches
  • the effectiveness of procedures in responding to cyber attacks.
Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 11 June 2020.

On 19 May 2020 the Auditor-General received a request from the Hon. Victor Dominello MP, Minister for Customer Service under section 27B(3)(c) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983, asking for a performance audit in relation to Service NSW’s handling of sensitive customer and business information. The Auditor-General is currently finalising a scope and criteria for this audit and will consider the issues the Member raised as part of this process. 

Status Topic already subject to a request audit under section 27B(3)(c) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983.
Requested by The Hon. Victor Dominello MP, Minister for Customer Service
Request date 19 May 2020
Details The Minister requested a performance audit be conducted in relation to Service NSW’s handling of sensitive customer and business information.
Response

The Minister made the request under section 27B(3)(c) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983. The Auditor-General is required to act on requests made under this section of the Act.

Status Completed - view report here
Requested by Mr Tim Crakanthorp MP, Member for Newcastle
Request date 19 May 2020
Details The Member requested the Auditor-General consider a constituent’s request for the Auditor-General to conduct an audit of the Newcastle Light Rail.
Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 2 June 2020.

The Newcastle Light Rail is not a separate entity, and as a result, the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 does not require separate financial statements to be prepared. As no financial statements are prepared for the Newcastle Light Rail, my office does not issue a separate audit report on financial information related to the Newcastle Light Rail. That said, the financial statements of Transport for NSW incorporate the financial information of the Newcastle Light Rail, and therefore it is within the scope of the Transport for NSW audit. The constituent’s concerns have been passed to the Audit Office financial audit team for consideration as part of Transport for NSW’s 2019-20 financial audit. 

The Auditor-General tabled a performance audit report on the Newcastle Urban Transformation and Transport Program in December 2018 that included consideration of the Newcastle Light Rail and associated transport reforms. As a result, the Auditor-General does not plan on conducting a performance audit of the Newcastle Light Rail in the near future.

Status Not proceeding
Requested by

The Hon. Catherine Cusack MLC

Request date

6 May 2020

Details

The Member requested the Auditor-General conduct a performance audit of the NSW Cross Border Commissioner.

Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 2 June 2020.

At this time there is limited evidence that the topic is a high priority, though the Audit Office will monitor the issues raised in the Member’s request.

The Auditor-General is currently refreshing her forward audit program, which will focus on governance and financial risks as well as issues of community interest. The Auditor-General will be considering future topics in the new Regional NSW cluster that includes the Office of the NSW Cross Border Commissioner.

Status

Not proceeding

Requested by

Ms Sophie Cotsis MP, Member for Canterbury

Request date

22 April 2020

Details

The Member requested the Auditor-General consider examining the collection of data from private companies and Commonwealth Government agencies by the NSW Department of Customer Service as part of the Auditor-General’s ongoing work in relation to cyber security and internal controls and governance for information and communications technology.

Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 11 May 2020.

As outlined in the Auditor-General’s Annual Work Program, the Audit Office is continuing with its focus on cyber security. The Audit Office will shortly commence an audit assessing compliance by selected agencies with the NSW Government's cyber security policy.

Status

Topic remains a focus of the Auditor-General.

Requested by Mr Paul Scully MP, Member for Wollongong
Request date 4 March 2020
Details The Member requested the Auditor-General consider conducting an audit into the wood supply agreements in New South Wales for both hardwood and softwood forestry products.
Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 15 April 2020.

The Audit Office financial audit team are overseeing an evaluation of the impact of the fires as part of the annual valuation of biological assets held by the Forestry Corporation of NSW. Insights from this evaluation will inform the Audit Office as to the value, timing and scope of a potential performance audit of wood supply agreements in the future.

Status Continue to monitor the potential for a performance audit of wood supply agreements in the future.
Requested by Ms Jo Haylen MP, Member for Summer Hill
Request date 22 February 2020
Details The Member requested the Auditor-General conduct a performance audit of the Regional Seniors Travel Card program.
Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 4 May 2020.

The Auditor-General has commenced an annual review of her work program. The Auditor-General will carefully consider the Member’s concerns about the Regional Seniors Travel Card program while balancing the large range of priorities that government is responding to. The Audit Office financial audit team will monitor expenditure in this area.

Status Topic to be considered as part of the annual review of the Auditor-General’s work program.
Requested by Ms Lynda Voltz MP, Member for Auburn
Request date 16 January 2020
Details The Member requested the Auditor-General review the Greater Sydney Sports Facility Fund grants process.
Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 19 February 2020.

The effective allocation of funding for grants and projects is an important focus area for the Auditor-General’s Performance Audit Program. Recent reports assessing similar issues to those raised include the Transport Access Program report published on 19 February 2019 and the Regional Assistance Grants report published on 17 May 2018.

The Auditor-General will continue to give these issues focus in the three-year forward program of Performance Audits, which is now in the process of being updated. The Auditor-General plans to include a topic in the updated forward program which will explore how effectively and transparently a number of NSW Government agencies are administering grants programs. This performance audit may include an examination of the Greater Sydney Sports Facility Fund as well as several other grants programs, and would likely commence during the remainder of this calendar year.

Status Performance audit on administering grants programs to be added to the Auditor-General's forward program.
Requested by
Ms Jodi McKay MP, NSW Leader of the Opposition
Request date
21 November 2019
Details

The Member requested the Auditor-General prioritise an investigation into the Government’s preparedness for the coming fire season. The Member requested this investigation consider:

  • Rural Fire Service funding and resourcing
  • Fire and Rescue NSW funding and resourcing
  • Whether Fire Station closures have affected the fire response
  • Whether staffing levels are adequate and sustainable
  • What additional services and response measures are needed
  • The adequacy of government support, and support from other agencies with key fire preparedness roles, such as the National Parks Service Ranger program.
Response

The Auditor-General initially responded to the Member on 10 December 2019:

'My published work program foreshadowed a performance audit on the “Management of the risk of Bushfires”. The program indicates this is planned for “post 30 June 2020”.

Recognising the importance of this matter, my office proposes to commence work on this audit in the second quarter of next year. The timing will ensure our work does not interfere with the operational activities of fire services agencies.'

The Auditor-General wrote again to the Member on 14 February 2020:

Given events subsequent to the initial response, the Auditor-General has decided not to conduct a performance audit into the NSW Government’s management and prevention of bushfires at this time.

State and Commonwealth Governments have announced they will hold their own inquiries into bushfire preparedness and responses. These inquires are likely to address many of the matters raised in the Member’s letter. A performance audit would potentially duplicate efforts and risk over-burdening relevant agencies.

The Auditor-General will continue to monitor these issues and will consider conducting an audit into bushfire responses pending the outcome of these government inquires. The topic remains on the Auditor-General’s three-year forward program.

Status Topic remains on the Auditor-General's three-year forward program.
Requested by

The Hon. Don Harwin MP

Special Minister of State and Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs and the Arts

Request date 4 November 2019
Details The Minister requested an audit be conducted in relation to the effectiveness of the financial arrangements and management practices of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, the NSW Ombudsman, and the NSW Electoral Commission.
Response

The Minister made the request under section 27B(3)(c) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983. The Auditor-General is required to act on requests made under this section of the Act.

This audit will assess the effectiveness of the financial arrangements and management practices in four integrity agencies: the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, the NSW Ombudsman, and the NSW Electoral Commission. It will also consider the roles of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and NSW Treasury in these processes.

This will include assessing:

  • how the integrity agencies assess the funding requirements for meeting their legislative mandate
  • whether the existing funding mechanisms effectively support integrity agencies to achieve their legislative mandate
  • whether integrity agencies monitor the efficiency of their operations.
Status Completed - view report here
Requested by Ms Steph Cooke MP, Member for Cootamundra
Request date

20 September 2019

Details The Member requested an independent assessment of the finances of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council and the veracity of Council’s claims of a $30 million deficit they face over the next 10 years.
Response

The Auditor-General responded to the Member on 11 October 2019:

'In May 2019, my office tabled a performance audit report in Parliament that focused on workforce reform within three amalgamated councils. While that report focused on workforce reform, it also reported that the NSW government estimated benefit realisation from the 2016 amalgamations over a 20 year timeframe. During the first three years following amalgamation, councils were subject to staff protections that limited their ability to restructure their workforce to deliver improved services. Those protections only expired six months ago in May 2019.

Performance audits examine one or more of efficiency, effectiveness and economy. Given the 20 year timeframe for benefits realisation, a performance audit of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council's effectiveness in realising benefits from amalgamation would be premature at this time.

Our financial audits provide an objective and independent opinion on the financial statements of NSW Local Government councils. These audits are of historical information. My most recent opinion on the 2017-18 financial statements found that the financial report presented fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Council as at 30 June 2018, and of its financial performance and its cash flows for the year then ended.'

Status Not proceeding