[First filed: September 10, 2009 @ 06:12]
Last week, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts announced they would be having an Inquiry into the Auditor-General Act of 1996 and by extension, the operation of the ACT Auditor-General’s Office.
The Inquiry is now open to submissions from the public, interested organisations, and individuals.
The Terms of Reference are available here.
Get in quick, you only have until 29 January 2010 to make your submissions.
The surroundings of this Committee Review seems to be a combination of:
- a) the recently completed Review of the Government Agencies (Campaign Advertising) Bill 2008 in which the Auditor-General herself stated that she had ‘significant reservations’ about the proposed law and its ability to undermine the impartiality of the Office of the Auditor-General; and
- b) Three potentially interesting hours of Legislative Assembly argument about the Auditor-General’s dependance on pleasing the Executive in order to receive funding, from 24 June 2009. (pages 2797 – 2831) which resulted in Brendan Smyth’s Auditor-General Amendment Bill 2009
- c) The fact that the Auditor-General’s Office has had funding repeatedly cut by the Stanhope Executive, impeding the Auditor’s capacity to complete performance audits in a timely manner and imparing the Auditor’s ability to make ACT Governance more efficient.
Brendan Smyth and Zed Selselja’s comments in the above Hansard indicate the Office now has a backlog of 100 prospective audits, and with its current level of reduced funding, completes audits at a rate of six or seven per year.
Without any further budget cuts or additional needs placed on the Auditor-General by public inquiries, requests by the Assembly, or needs of the Executive, the current backlog should be cleared by the year 2023.
Among other things that the Committee is to look into, there are as follows:
…whether there should be changes to the coverage and scope of the ACT Auditor-General’s audit mandate and, in particular, with the power to audit organisations that receive funds from the ACT Government
… whether the annual budget for the ACT Auditor-General should be set by the Legislative Assembly and not by the Executive Government
… any amendments that could be made which would strengthen the managerial autonomy and resourcing of the ACT Auditor-General
… any amendments which would strengthen the role of the ACT Auditor-General as an independent officer of Parliament.