Strategic and other reviews of the Queensland Audit Office
External reviews of our organisation are an important part of our governance framework. They provide for an independent understanding of our organisation, hold us accountable for how we discharge our mandate, and recommend opportunities for improvement.
The Auditor-General Act 2009 provides the mandate for QAO's role. A key accountability measure contained within the legislation is an independent review of our organisation to be conducted at least every 5 years. The Governor-in-Council appoints the independent reviewers from outside of our organisation, and provides them with the terms of reference. The reviewers then engage with us, our clients, and other key stakeholders to understand how well we are operating and fulfilling our mandate.
2017 strategic review
The Strategic Review of the Queensland Audit Office 2017 was tabled in parliament on 23 March 2017. We welcomed the review as an opportunity to have our position and performance independently evaluated. We also looked to the review to highlight areas for improvement and, importantly, any strategic issues that need to be addressed. Since the prior review in 2010, there was a significant change in our legislation that provided us with a mandate to conduct performance audits. Naturally, the terms of reference focused the reviewers in this area.
We supported all of the recommendations made by the 2017 reviewers and publicly report on their implementation in our annual report. The reviewers for the next strategic review are due to be appointed by April 2023.
2017 STRATEGIC REVIEW 2017 REPORT QAO RESPONSE
View prior strategic review reports.
2013 Finance and Administration Committee inquiry
In September 2013, the then parliamentary committee, Finance and Administration Committee (FAC), commenced an inquiry into the legislative arrangements assuring the Queensland Auditor-General's independence. The inquiry concluded in 2016 without the committee making any recommendations. On 23 October 2013, QAO provided a submission to the inquiry. The committee's report can be read here.
2022 Coaldrake review
On 28 June 2022, Professor Coaldrake provided his final report titled: Review of culture and accountability in the Queensland public sector to the Premier and Minister for the Olympics. The review included an examination of the legislation underpinning the state's integrity framework, and the final report contained recommendations that would strengthen the independence of the Auditor-General. During the review, the Auditor-General made a submission, drawing on information made public via previous inquiries and strategic reviews of QAO, and parliamentary committee briefings. QAO’s submission can be read here: QAO submission.
Since the review, the Integrity and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022 was passed by the Queensland Parliament, amending the Auditor-General Act 2009, Ombudsman Act 2001, and Integrity Act 2009.
The primary amendments to the Auditor-General Act 2009 included:
- officially recognising the Auditor-General as an officer of the parliament
- requiring the Auditor-General to take an oath/affirmation of office
- enabling the Auditor-General to conduct performance audits of government owned corporations
- requiring the Economics and Governance Committee’s approval of QAO’s hourly audit fee rates
- employing staff under the Auditor-General Act 2009 instead of the Public Sector Act 2022.
The first 3 of these amendments commenced on 1 March 2023 and the others will be proclaimed to commence at a later time.
Other recommendations made by Professor Coaldrake that may be addressed through further legislative amendments include:
- changes to the budget processes for all integrity agencies
- changes to how the chief executives of integrity officers are appointed
- updates to how integrity offices table their annual reports
- other outstanding recommendations from the 2013 FAC inquiry into the Auditor-General's independence and the 2017 strategic review of QAO.
Recommendations relating to QAO's broader mandate (that is, non-legislative change) include QAO:
- conducting performance audits of the government lobbying register, ministerial diaries, and public records to ensure recordkeeping obligations are being complied with
- monitoring how entities measure benefits from contractors and consultants, and the use of non-disclosure agreements.
QAO is addressing these recommendations in developing its forward work plan 2023–26.