Annual Report 2006-2007
 

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External scrutiny

Reports by the Australian National Audit Office

The Auditor-General tabled in Parliament one audit report related specifically to portfolio operations, as follows:

Report No. 47: Coordination of Australian Government assistance to Solomon Islands
The audit assessed the coordination of Australian Government assistance to Solomon Islands through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI). In particular, the audit examined arrangements for: coordination between Australian Government agencies; strategic planning and risk management; measuring the effectiveness of RAMSI; and reporting to RAMSI’s Australian stakeholders. The report was tabled on 21 June 2007.

Additionally, the department was either involved in or responded to the following cross-portfolio performance audits tabled during 2006–07:

Report No. 5: Senate Order for Departmental and Agency Contracts
The objectives of the audit were to assess agency performance in relation to compiling their internet contract listings as required by the Senate Order and the appropriateness of the use of confidentiality provisions in Commonwealth contracts.

Report No. 6: Recordkeeping including the Management of Electronic Records
The objective of the audit was to assess the extent to which entities were meeting their recordkeeping responsibilities and in particular how effectively they were managing records that were created and stored electronically.

Report No. 21: Implementation of the revised Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines
The objective of the audit was to assess how well the revised Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines had been implemented and identify any better practice or common problem areas to assist other agencies in their future procurement activities.

Report No. 22: Management of intellectual property in the Australian Government sector
The audit objective was to examine progress in the development of an overarching approach and guidance for the management of the Commonwealth’s intellectual property.

Report No. 23: Application of the Outcomes and Outputs Framework
The objective of the audit was to assess the application of the outcomes and outputs framework in Australian Government agencies. It included a review of the outcomes and outputs of agencies and the integration of the outcomes and outputs framework into agencies’ operations.

Report No. 43: Managing Security Issues in Procurement and Contracting
The objective of this audit was to evaluate whether selected Australian Government agencies were effectively managing security risks arising from the use of contractors. The audit evaluated relevant policies and practices against a series of minimum requirements in the management of security issues in procurement and contracting activity. The minimum requirements were developed from the guidance and standards contained in the Protective Security Manual and from the ANAO’s previous protective security audits.

Report No. 48: Superannuation Payments for Contractors Working for the Australian Government
The objective of the audit was to determine the extent to which selected agencies have implemented recommendations of the previous audit and the appropriateness of advice provided by Finance and the ATO.

Report No. 49: Non-APS Workers
The objective of the audit was to assess management practices undertaken by APS agencies to achieve value for money and transparency in dealing with contracts for non-APS workers. The focus of the audit was on circumstances where agencies had a significant reliance on a non-APS workforce to assist in achieving their core functions.

Courts and administrative tribunals

The department was involved in a number of legal matters during the year. There were no decisions that had a significant legal impact on the operations of the department. Details of matters in which the department was involved are at Appendix 6.

Parliamentary committees

The department made submissions and/or gave evidence to 21 parliamentary committee inquiries. In addition, departmental staff appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties in relation to 49 proposed treaty actions (see Appendix 5 for further details).

Ombudsman

The Commonwealth Ombudsman investigated 32 approaches/complaints with respect to the department’s activities in 2006–07, making two negative findings, although no formal reports were issued.

Privacy

No reports were served on the department under section 30 of the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act), nor were there any determinations made by the Privacy Commissioner relating to the actions of the department under sections 52 or 53. No public interest determinations were sought from the Privacy Commissioner under section 72 of the Privacy Act.

In two matters where investigations commenced in 2005–06, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner found there had been no breach of privacy by the department. The Office has commenced preliminary inquiries into one complaint where the department had found there had been no breach of privacy on initial investigation and review. We are investigating four privacy complaints made directly to the department.

Other activities where the privacy implications of projects and the impact of the Privacy Act on procedures were considered are detailed in other parts of this report.

Legislation

The process for all portfolio-related legislation has been managed effectively.

Amendments to the Australian Trade Commission Act 1985, enacted by the Australian Trade Commission Legislation Amendment Act 2006, commenced on 1 July 2006.

The Australia–Japan Foundation (Repeal and Transitional Provisions) Act 2006, repealing the Australia–Japan Foundation Act 1976, received Royal Assent on 5 September 2006. The Australia–Japan Foundation was re-established by Orders in Council as a non-statutory body within the department, effective from 1 December 2006.

The Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Amendment Act 2007, amending the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation Act 1991, received Royal Assent on 19 February 2007. The amendments commenced on 1 July 2007.

These Acts were passed in order to implement the recommendations of the Uhrig Review designed to streamline government administration.

The Non-Proliferation Legislation Amendment Act 2007, amending legislation primarily administered by the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, commenced on 11 April 2007.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Amendment Act 2007, amending the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research Act 1982, received Royal Assent on 28 June 2007. The amendments commenced on 1 July 2007.

The department facilitated the enactment and amendment of a number of regulations and determinations, including regulations to implement Australia’s obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions to impose sanctions upon several countries.

We provided input to legislation managed by agencies within the portfolio and to legislation managed by other agencies that affected Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio legislation.

Compensation for detriment caused by defective administration

Four cases were lodged under the compensation scheme for detriment caused by defective administration. Two cases, one from the previous financial year, were resolved, resulting in two payments made from administered funds. Four cases, one from the previous financial year, remained in progress at the end of the financial year.

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