Audit Office doing fewer performance audits than a decade ago

by Bill Browne

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has been starved of the funds that it needs to conduct its detailed, rigorous audits: into the “sports rorts” affair, payment over the fair price for land, government spending on consultants, and many other issues.

Given that, the $61.5 million in the Budget for the Australian National Audit Office is not unwelcome. However, this additional funding is to address rising costs for the office rather than enabling it to expand its scope and work program. Last year the Australia Institute warned that the ANAO would miss its target of 48 performance audits for Parliament.

Sure enough, the ANAO is only expecting to prepare 40 performance audits for Parliament next year. It will be 2024–25 before the ANAO gets back to 48 performance audits a year.

No news on when, if ever, the ANAO will get back to the 55 performance audits in a year that it was expected to pull off in 2011–12 a decade ago.

At a time of huge and rushed expenditure of public money in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Auditor-General needs more resources to conduct more audits, not fewer.

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