26 June 2023

Police, social housing, mental health and more under Auditor-General microscope

| Claire Fenwicke
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ACT Auditor-General Michael Harris has released his focus areas for the next financial year. Photo: File.

The effectiveness of the Territory’s policing arrangement with the AFP, maintenance of social housing and supports for students with disabilities in Canberra’s public schools are among the areas to be audited over the next two years.

ACT Auditor-General Michael Harris has particularly identified topics that address vulnerable sectors of the Territory’s community, which the 2023-24 Performance Audit Program noted recognised the “benefits of high living standards are not shared by all Canberrans”.

“The ACT Audit Office continues to focus on improving the accountability, efficiency and effectiveness of the ACT Public Sector,” he said.

“There is a specific emphasis on topics that aim to address the challenges that vulnerable sectors of the ACT community are facing.”

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Included in the list are two multi-year audits, which are expected to deliver three reports to the Legislative Assembly.

The first will consider key outsourced service delivery arrangements – specifically the Australian Federal Police policing agreement under the Justice and Community Safety Directorate, and Total Facilities Management, which falls under Housing ACT and the Community Services Directorate through an agreement with Programmed Facility Management Pty Ltd for the maintenance of social housing.

The program stated the audits could consider whether the Territory’s management and administration of these arrangements contribute to “effective service delivery” and “value for money”.

A new policing arrangement with the AFP was implemented in September 2022 and is in place until 30 June, 2026.

The second multi-year audit will focus on the digital service implementation of three IT systems across the Government – the Digital Health Record, Reimagining Gateway Services (for receiving, assessing and managing social housing applications) and the school administration system (including student attendance, wellbeing and academic reporting).

Other audit topics include:

  • The effectiveness of the arrangements in place to develop, implement, monitor and review reserve management plans
  • Urban tree management (in progress), to assess the effectiveness of Transport Canberra and City Services’ management of urban trees to support the goal of achieving 30 per cent tree canopy cover by 2045
  • The Safer Families Levy, to consider how expenditure is planned, monitored and reported, and how the effectiveness of initiatives funded by the levy is monitored and evaluated
  • The effectiveness of the ACT Gaming and Racing Commission’s activities to minimise harm associated with poker machines
  • The effectiveness of Access Canberra’s compliance and enforcement activities for the construction industry
  • Youth mental health services for people aged 12 to 18 years with moderate to severe mental illness (in progress), examining whether the services are consistent with best practice or relevant standards and if they are effectively meeting the needs of the Territory’s young people
  • Courts administration
  • Supports for students with disability in ACT public schools (in progress)
  • The Public Housing Renewal Program
  • Public Trustee and Guardian – IT infrastructure renewal projects

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A future performance audit program has also been included, however, it lists more audits than are expected to be delivered due to the program needing to be flexible and responsive to current issues in the community and government.

Potential future audit topics include: strategic planning for sports infrastructure, early education for three-year-olds, Emergency Services Agency (ESA) operational planning and acquisition, oversight of adult offenders subject to bail conditions, road infrastructure maintenance, and planning for public transport infrastructure.

The program was developed in consideration of high-risk areas and activities across all government directorates, and the topics were chosen after consultation with community and stakeholder organisations, as well as the ACT Public Service.

The topics must align with one of six key areas identified by the Auditor-General’s office: effectively protecting the environment, making evidence-based decisions to invest wisely for the future and reduce waste, providing a safe and inclusive community, delivering effective services to meet the expectations of the community, learning from the past to deliver improved outcomes, or embracing technology, innovation and digital disruption.

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ACT Auditor-General. Not exactly a dynamo in terms of holding the government
Not to account.

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