Report highlights: Treasury 2021
What the report is about
The results of Treasury cluster agencies' financial statement audits for the year ended 30 June 2021. The results of the audit of the NSW Government's consolidated Total State Sector Accounts (TSSA), which are prepared by NSW Treasury, are reported separately in our report on State Finances 2021.
What we found
Unmodified audit opinions were issued for all Treasury cluster agencies.
The number of identified monetary misstatements increased from 16 in 2019–20 to 24 in 2020–21.
Reported corrected monetary misstatements decreased from 15 in 2019–20 to seven with a gross value of $1.1 billion in 2020–21.
The largest corrected misstatement was in NSW Treasury's financial statements and was a $1 billion correction to administered borrowings.
Reported uncorrected monetary misstatements increased from one in 2019–20 to 17 with a gross value of $168 million in 2020–21.
Seven of the 2020–21 uncorrected misstatements related to one common decision relating to investment management funds terminated during the year by the NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp).
All agencies submitted their 2020–21 financial statements within NSW Treasury's reporting deadlines.
What the key issues were
Significant audit findings were identified with respect to NSW Treasury's processes to prepare the NSW Government's consolidated TSSA (whole of government accounts). This included one extreme finding and several high-risk findings related to NSW Treasury processes. These are reported in our report on State Finances 2021.
Two high-risk issues raised in 2019–20 were also not addressed by NSW Treasury during the year and were repeat issues reported to management. These related to the appropriations framework and resolution of cross cluster payments, and instances where some agencies spent deemed appropriations money without an authorised delegation.
A number of previously reported audit findings and recommendations with respect to icare continue to be ongoing issues, namely:
- The Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer continues to hold less assets than the estimated present value of its future payment obligations.
- The Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer's four week return-to-work rate fell from 68% to 64%. This is below icare's 70% target. Contributing factors include COVID-19 lockdowns which have impacted claims handling processes, and increased barriers to claimants returning to work.
- Instances were noted where inadequate documentation was kept on file to support claims, including pre-injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE) calculations.
The Workers Compensation (Dust Diseases) Authority increased its outstanding claims liability by $93.9 million, which included $39.3 million to remediate historical underpayments, resulting from workers not being paid the rate required by existing legislation.
The icare Board approved a new approach for remediating PIAWE underpayments on 24 September 2021, the date the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer’s financial statements were approved for issue. The impact of the decision on the financial statements was not discussed with the Audit Office and assessed as an ‘after balance date event’.
What we recommended
Our report on State Finances 2021 made several recommendations to improve NSW Treasury processes. These included:
- improve processes to ensure information is shared with audit on a timely basis
- seek legislative amendments to resolve statutory inconsistencies relating to statutory reporting time frames
- implement effective quality review processes over key accounting information
- establish a policy to determine the minimum expected rate of return on equity injections in other public sector entities
- prepare robust financial projections to support accounting decisions
- re-confirm sector classifications of TAHE, Sydney Trains and NSW Trains
- ensure sufficient oversight of its use of consultants and assess the risk of an overdependence on consultants at the cost of internal capability
- improve disclosures of equity injections invested in other public sector entities
- determine a state-wide policy on when borrowings are recognised in agency financial statements
- make legislative amendments to ensure expenditure incurred across financial years does not exceed the appropriation authority and assess the financial reporting impact
- improve the guidance provided to agencies to ensure expenditure of public money is properly supported by authorised delegations.
We also recommended icare should ensure:
- it has sufficient controls over claim payments including an effective quality assurance program, to minimise claim payment errors
- that documentation to support injured worker benefit calculations is appropriately maintained, and the documentation requirements are set out in a policy
- the impact of ‘after balance date events’ on financial statements is appropriately assessed
- its operational practices are improved to ensure the correct payment of claims in compliance with legislative requirements. icare also needs to act on a timely basis on received legal advice and amend operational practices to ensure correct payments are made.
NSW Treasury notes that it is the Government's principal financial and economic adviser to guide the State’s growth for the benefit of the people who live, work and study in NSW.
Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.