During 1999-2000, outside parties conducted various reviews and
inquiries into DOFA's operations. Given the breadth of its business
and role as a central agency, DOFA was mentioned in numerous reports.
DOFA also gave evidence to a number of whole-of-government inquiries.
This section concentrates on those reviews and inquiries which focused
Parliamentary Committee Inquiries
Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
- Report 369 - Australian Government Procurement (tabled
30 June 1999)
- This report focused on how Commonwealth agencies managed
their purchasing function; DOFA provided the whole-of-government
response to the policy issues. The response was tabled on 23
- Report 372 - Corporate Governance and Accountability Arrangements
for Commonwealth Government Business Enterprises (tabled 16
- The committee's report was supportive of the existing accountability
framework, provided under the Governance Arrangements and
the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. The
report stated that the 'governance arrangements provide a robust
and flexible framework for the management and accountability
of GBEs'. It also endorsed the existing requirement for GBEs
to table a Statement of Corporate Intent, the corporate form
for GBEs, and DOFA's establishment of a GBE monitoring unit.
- DOFA will implement the report's administrative recommendations
in 2000-01, to improve the already strong accountability framework.
This will include reviewing the applicability of administrative
law to government business enterprises and clarifying the Government's
expectations in terms of director orientation and development,
board assessment and risk management.
- Report 374 - Review of Financial Management and Accountability
Act 1997 and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies
Act 1997 (tabled 16 March 2000)
- This report largely supported the effectiveness of the legislation
underpinning governance and financial management arrangements
for Commonwealth bodies. It recommended four minor improvements
which the Government is considering.
Senate Finance and Public Administration
- The Format of the Portfolio Budget Statements - Second Report
(tabled 29 October 1999)
- The committee explored the functionality of Portfolio Budget
Statements (PBS) following the introduction of the accrual based
outcome-output budgeting framework. The report affirmed the
value of moving to the new framework and made several minor
recommendations aimed at increasing the level of information
provided in Portfolio Budget Statement documents.
- The Government agreed to adopt most of the committee's recommendations,
which DOFA included in the guidance for 2000-01 Budget Statements.
The adopted recommendations led to more detailed output and
outcome information, and notes to financial statements.
- Inquiry into the Mechanism for Providing Accountability
to the Senate in Relation to Government Contracts - (tabled
26 June 2000)
- DOFA lodged its submission to this inquiry on 5 May and appeared
at public hearings on 12 May 2000. The report's performance audit
on the use of confidential contract provisions is awaited.
Senate Standing Committee on Regulations
- The Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances
scrutinises each Remuneration Tribunal determination and each
regulation issued by the Minister for Finance and Administration
under the Remuneration and Allowances Act 1990 and the
Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973. The committee commented
on the information presented in the Explanatory Memoranda accompanying
Remuneration Tribunal Determinations. The Tribunal has taken these
comments on board for future determinations.
Public Works Committee
- The Public Works Committee reviews all public works valued
above $6 million. In 1999-2000, one DOFA project, the refurbishment
of 4 Treasury Place, Melbourne went before the committee. This
was the first building constructed for the Commonwealth in 1912-13
and is closely associated with the early history of Federation.
The committee recommended the project proceed and tabled its report
on 20 October 1999.
Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)
As a central agency, DOFA is referred to in a large number of ANAO
reports for 1999-2000. The following list includes reports focused
on DOFA and action being taken for the most recent reports:
- Audit Report No. 2: Use of Financial Information in Management
Reports (tabled 15 July 1999)
- Audit Report No.7: Protective Security Audit Operation of
the Classification System for Protecting Sensitive Information
(tabled 11 August 1999) Audit Report No. 12: Management of
Contracted Business Support Processes (tabled 14 October 1999)
- Audit Report No. 25: Commonwealth Electricity Procurement
(tabled 5 January 2000)
- Audit Report No. 41: Commonwealth Emergency Management Arrangements
(tabled 28 April 2000)
- This involves key stakeholders, particularly Commonwealth
and State and Territory emergency managers, on proposed refinements
to Natural Disaster Risk Assessment arrangements, and the development
and implementation of the Natural Disaster Risk Management Studies
- It was agreed that DOFA should continue to give increased
priority to the implementation of the Natural Disaster Risk
Management Studies Program, and DOFA and Department of Transport
and Regional Services consult to facilitate the alignment of
the program with the Regional Flood Mitigation Program.
- Audit Report No. 45: Commonwealth Foreign Exchange Risk
Management Practices (tabled 31 May 2000)
- DOFA is involved in a multi-agency taskforce to consider
the recommendations, and report to Government. The Secretary
of DOFA chaired the taskforce which included representatives
from Defence, Treasury, Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAid, Australian
Office of Financial Management and DOFA.
- Audit Report No. 47: Survey of Fraud Control Arrangements
in APS Agencies (tabled 20 June 2000)
- The report was forwarded to DOFA's Risk Management Coordination
Unit which is updating DOFA's fraud control arrangements. As
part of its update, the unit will consider the issues raised
in this report.
- Audit Report No.52: Financial Statement Audit: Control Structures
as Part of the Audits of Financial Statements of Major Commonwealth
Agencies for the Period Ended 30 June 2000 (tabled 30 June
- DOFA was included in this audit and in response, DOFA addressed
the IT security matters raised, and installed formal review
and monitoring processes.
Commonwealth Ombudsman Reports
'To Compensate or Not to Compensate?' Own motion investigation
of Commonwealth arrangements for providing financial redress for
maladministration. Report under section 35A of the Ombudsman Act
1976 (Tabled September 1999)
The Ombudsman examined how compensation is provided under various
arrangements applying to particular categories of requests or claims,
including settlement of monetary claims against the Commonwealth,
the Scheme for Compensation for Detriment Caused by Defective
Administration, act of grace payments, ex gratia payments, debt
write offs and debt waivers.
The Ombudsman found, inter alia, these mechanisms/schemes provide
adequate power to pay compensation whenever it is warranted, but
recommended a more streamlined approach to compensation. Despite
the perceived difficulties with current Commonwealth mechanisms,
the Ombudsman noted most agencies agreed they could live with the
current system if it were explained more simply and interpreted
Recommendations applying to DOFA were to:
- recommend devolution of the act of grace and waiver powers
to Agency Heads
- consult with agencies about arrangements for effective devolution
- clarify the guidelines for the Scheme for Compensation for
Detriment Caused by Defective Administration, to ensure that if
the Ombudsman and the agency concerned agree that detriment was
caused by defective administration, that agreement is sufficient
basis for paying compensation.
DOFA believes it would not be appropriate to devolve to Agency
Heads all of the Minister for Finance and Administration's act of
grace and waiver powers under the FMA Act. However, the Ombudsman's
conclusions on the need to clarify the relationship between the
various compensation mechanisms, as well as the Ombudsman's role
in assisting agencies determine cases of defective administration,
will be taken into account in developing and promulgating guidelines
on how to examine different requests for compensation.