You are here
This section is about our performance audit program, including how we develop our strategic audit plan, and the details of our upcoming audit topics.
Developing our program
Performance audits provide independent assurance that public resources are being used appropriately and that government programs are delivering on their objectives efficiently, effectively, and economically.
Each year, we receive funding from parliament to conduct performance audits and we strive to invest this funding into performance audits of importance to Queensland.
To achieve this, we engage broadly and use our expertise to identify potential performance audit topics. Our key stakeholders in this process include the Finance and Administration Committee, other parliamentary committees, the executive management of public sector entities and user groups of public services.
We then evaluate each topic against key criteria to develop a three-year program that represents the best use of our funding.
In addition to our performance audit program, we have a financial audit program that progressively audits the financial statements of over 500 public sector entities each year. The details of this program are extensive, and as such are not available on our website.
We are required to prepare and publish by 30 June each year a three-year strategic audit plan (SAP) which shapes and drives our program of performance audits.
Our 2017–20 SAP is the culmination of our ongoing efforts to understand the challenges, risks, and opportunities facing the Queensland public sector, and is a vehicle to communicate our future audit direction.
Importantly, the plan itself is not the end of the conversation, it is an output from ongoing conversation throughout the year.
While our legislation requires us to publish our performance audits, to further enhance the transparency of our work the SAP sets out our proposed program across all our audit functions: performance audit and financial audit.
The following table sets out the performance audit topics we propose to undertake over the next three years. This forward-work schedule allows us to engage early in conversations with our stakeholders so that we can refine and direct our efforts to the areas where we can have the greatest impact on better public services. This plan may change over the next three years and this is communicated to our clients.
Proposed performance audit program 2017–20
Agriculture and Environment
Threatened species conservation
This audit will assess whether the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is effectively identifying, protecting, and conserving threatened species.
Australia is home to between 600 000 and 700 000 species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Changes to the landscape and habitat from human activity have put many of these unique species at risk. Over the last 200 years, many species of plants and animals have become extinct. A range of management and conservation measures are in place for the species whose survival is under threat.
Under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, there are currently 794 species listed as threatened (extinct in the wild, endangered, or vulnerable) in Queensland. Of these species, the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 lists around 414 as threatened nationally.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection has responsibility for managing and conserving threatened species in Queensland via the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Other government agencies, the community, and industry sectors also undertake activities relating to threatened species.
Monitoring environmental conditions for mining activities
This audit will assess whether the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is effectively monitoring and managing the environmental conditions for the state’s mining activities.
When entities wish to undertake activities in Queensland that have the potential to contaminate the environment, they require an environmental authority. Environmentally relevant activities (ERAs) are industrial, resource, or intensive agricultural activities that have the potential to release contaminants into the environment. Environmental authorities include eligibility criteria, which ensure that environmental risks relating to ERA operations are suitably managed under standard conditions or minimum operating requirements.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is the administering authority, under the Environmental Protection Act 1994. It approves eligibility criteria and standard conditions for ERAs.
For example, on 2 February 2016, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection issued a final environmental authority for Adani’s proposed Carmichael Mine project, with approximately 140 conditions. This included nine conditions relating to the black throated finch, as required by the Land Court. The department will need to monitor any potential environmental impacts arising from this operation.
Managing oil and chemical spills
This audit will assess whether the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Maritime Safety Queensland (Department of Transport and Main Roads) have effective processes to manage land- and water-based oil and chemical spills.
Oil and chemical spill incidents can have devastating effects on the environment. Water-based spills can result in major biological issues, physical contamination, and disruption to industries that rely heavily on waterways for their operations. There can also be an impact on recreational activities when water-based spills encroach on beaches and local waterways.
Although land-based spills tend to move more slowly and affect smaller areas, they are still hazardous to people and the environment.
State and federal agencies work together to respond to land- and water-based spills. Maritime Safety Queensland is the lead agency in Queensland for responding to maritime spills, and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection provides it with assistance where it affects wildlife. The department is the lead agency in Queensland for responding to land-based spills.
Education, Tourism, Innovation and Small Business
Investing for success
This audit will assess the economy and effectiveness of the Queensland Government’s Investing for Success initiative.
In 2014, the Queensland Government commenced a four-year funding initiative to improve student outcomes and school performance. The funding source for this initiative is the Australian Government's Students First initiative, which provides $794 million to Queensland state schools over four years.
During 2014 and 2015, the Department of Education and Training allocated $131 million and $183 million respectively to state schools through its Great Results Guarantee program. During 2016, the department changed the funding allocation model for the remaining $480 million and also changed the name of the program to Investing for Success.
The Department of Education and Training is allocating the remaining funding through a needs-based method. This is to direct funding to students and schools requiring the most support. All Queensland state schools (including independent state schools) will receive a share of the funding in 2016 and 2017.
Schools then decide how to invest the funding to improve student outcomes and school performance. Schools need to measure student performance throughout the year to demonstrate to their communities how the funding is helping students, particularly those in most need of support.
Monitoring and managing ICT projects
This audit will assess whether the information and communication technology (ICT) project dashboard is a reliable source of information for monitoring progress, and whether departments are using effective program and project management approaches.
The ICT projects dashboard presents publicly available information about all major government ICT projects that are underway. The dashboard lists projects from all departments and is one way in which the government communicates with the public about how well it is running its ICT projects. The projects reported in the dashboard are estimated to cost around $800 million.
There is a significant cost to government when new systems are delayed, or do not function as intended, above and beyond the initial cost of the project. The use of effective program and project management disciplines demonstrably increases the potential for successful delivery and achievement of planned outcomes. It also reduces the risk of potential cost overruns, untimely delivery, not delivering the functionality, and numerous workarounds that affect service accessibility and cause significant cost over the life of the system.
Effectiveness of the shared service model
This audit will assess if the shared service model is effective in achieving its planned outcomes.
In 2002, the Queensland Government established the Shared Services Initiative, which followed a shared service model. This type of model aims to merge together the same business support functions—such as finance, human resources, and information technology—from different agencies. It serves to produce economies of scale by delivering the same services for multiple agencies from the one provider, rather than having multiple agencies each delivering their own support functions.
Shared service models can generate efficiencies, reduce costs, and minimise duplication. However, the model can also have its limitations due to incompatible systems across different agencies, ineffective change management strategies, and poor communication and leadership. These challenges can result in agency resistance, the realisation of technology risks, and in the initiative not achieving the planned outcomes and benefits.
Investing in vocational education and training
This audit will examine whether the Department of Education and Training is achieving comparable student outcomes through its public and private vocational education and training providers.
The vocational education and training sector provides skills-based training to assist individuals in finding employment and help them to advance within a current position. Under the Annual Vocational Education Training Investment Plan, the state government has committed $810.7 million to help individuals gain skills that lead to real job opportunities and sustainable employment. The plan is supported by a vocational education and training investment framework that aims to support demand-driven funding arrangements, provide support to disadvantaged learners, and contribute towards public providers—to enable them to compete in the vocational education and training market.
TAFE Queensland is the state’s largest public provider of vocational education and training. It was established on 1 July 2013 as an independent statutory body under the TAFE Queensland Act 2013.
The number of private training providers in the market has expanded, each offering skills-based training across accredited courses. The current vocational education and training model is intended to provide a greater variety of courses for individuals to choose from, while providing successful learning and employment outcomes for students.
This audit will assess how effectively departments are protecting the information they collect against the risk of cyber threats or attacks.
A cyber attack is defined as a deliberate act through cyber space to manipulate, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy computers, networks, or the information they contain. In Australia, the responsibility for managing and preventing cyber security threats lies with the federal, state and territory governments. As government delivers more and more services online, the risk of cyber security attacks increases. The Queensland Government has established a cyber security unit with a whole‑of‑government focus to combat potential threats.
The 2016 Threat Report by the Australian Cyber Security Centre states that a broad range of malicious cyber activity persistently targets Australian industry. It also states that the spectrum of malicious cyber activity ranges from online vandalism and cybercrime through to the theft of intellectual property. Between July 2015 and June 2016, CERT Australia (the national computer emergency response team) responded to 14 804 cyber security incidents. Cyber security is an evolving risk and departments need to be vigilant in assessing and addressing it.
School program for students with disability
This audit will examine whether the Department of Education and Training is effectively and efficiently supporting students with disability to maximise their education outcomes.
The number of students in Queensland state schools with a recognised disability is increasing. The highest rates of growth are students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and hearing impairment.
Schools may need to make reasonable adjustments to the way they teach students with disability, or the way the students access the school, to ensure they can participate. For example, where some students with an autism spectrum disorder find handwriting stressful and difficult, the school may use word processing technology as an alternative.
All schools receive resourcing to support students with disability and can request access to a range of regional specialist services.
Educating for the digital future
This audit will examine whether the Department of Education and Training is achieving its objectives in implementing a smart classroom and digital strategy to support learning in a digital world.
In 2008, the Australian Government promoted teaching and learning with the use of technologies through a Digital Education Revolution national partnership agreement. This partnership agreement provided a total of over $2 billion in funding to the Australian states and territories to provide computers and software to all students in school years 9 to 12, deliver digital learning resources, and provide professional development in information and communication technology (ICT) for teachers.
In Queensland, the Department of Education and Training implemented initiatives to support learning with technology. These included ‘bring your own digital device’ to school for learning purposes, computers for teachers, access to ICT courses for students and teachers, digital practice guides, and the creation of ‘the learning place’ (the department’s secure eLearning environment).
This audit will assess whether open data strategies have achieved their full potential in terms of adding value to the Queensland public sector, the economy, and the community.
Open data strategies aim to stimulate the economy by making government data freely available, which can enable entrepreneurs, researchers, and businesses to improve or create new products and services. These strategies also feed into the Advance Queensland agenda. The government designed this agenda to drive innovation and to create opportunities for entrepreneur, industry, and government collaboration to turn ideas into commercial products and businesses that create jobs.
Without effective open data strategies, users might not be able to access available data or the data might not meet their needs. This could result in wasting public funds used to maintain the information. Conversely, if agencies do not make the right types of information available, there is the potential for lost opportunities for innovation and economic development.
Finance and Administration
Finalising unpaid fines
This audit will assess the efficiency and effectiveness of agencies in finalising unpaid fines.
With advances in technology, a greater variety of infringements, and the total balance of unpaid fines being above $1 billion, agencies require efficient and effective processes to finalise unpaid fines.
Several public sector agencies issue infringement notices and levy fines. Where fines remain unpaid, an agency may refer the matter to the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry (SPER).
SPER was established as an alternative to the prosecution of fine defaulters in a magistrate’s court, and to reduce the cost to the state of enforcing fines and other monetary penalties. It is responsible for the collection and enforcement of unpaid infringement notice fines, court ordered penalties, offender debt recovery orders, and offender levies.
SPER relies on the timely exchange of accurate, reliable, and sufficient debtor data from referring agencies to recover unpaid fines. This audit will assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, the Department of Transport and Main Roads, and SPER in finalising unpaid fines.
Use of confidentiality clauses in government contracts
This audit will assess the extent and appropriateness of the use of confidentiality provisions in Queensland Government contracts.
Transparency is a cornerstone of modern public sector governance arrangements. It is imperative that parliament and members of the public can scrutinise major government contracts. As far back as 2002, the Queensland Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee raised the issue of inappropriate and overuse of privacy provisions in government contracts in Queensland (in its report on Commercial-in-Confidence arrangements).
There is a need to strike a balance between legitimately protecting commercially sensitive and/or confidential information and upholding parliamentary accountability and the public’s right to know details of those contracts.
Fraud risk management
This audit will assess whether agencies appropriately identify and assess fraud risks, and apply appropriate risk treatments and control activities to adequately manage their exposure to fraud risks.
Fraud is a deliberate deception that can be dishonest, corrupt, or unethical. It can cause significant disruption to an entity’s operations, and significant financial loss.
All agencies are subject to fraud risks. It is impossible to eliminate all fraud; however, by correctly identifying the risk and implementing appropriate risk treatments and controls, it is possible to minimise the risk. Fraud controls are effective when they balance the cost of operating them against the risk mitigation that they achieve.
KPMG’s fraud barometer for the period October 2015 to September 2016 reports that Australian courts heard 259 fraud cases, reporting total losses of $823 million. Of this, $214.4 million of fraud losses related to government entities, with 53 per cent perpetrated in Queensland. The barometer found that over 40 per cent of the frauds in Australia occurred over a five-year period before agencies detected them, suggesting that detection was taking too long. PWC’s Global Economic Crime survey (2016) found that 48 per cent of frauds committed in the Australian public service were identified because of tip-offs, whistleblowing, or by accident.
This audit will assess how effectively Queensland Treasury assesses market‑led proposals.
Queensland Treasury has developed a market-led proposals framework as an initiative of the government’s economic plan to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The state government intended for market-led proposals to harness innovative ideas and funding from the private sector to deliver beneficial projects faster. A market-led proposal seeks government support to undertake a commercial activity, such as delivering services to or from government, providing infrastructure, or accessing government assets or information. An essential element of this approach involves contracting exclusively with providers, rather than going through a competitive tender process.
In July 2015, the government released a revised Project Assessment Framework (PAF) which created dedicated guidelines for market-led proposals. There are four stages to the assessment process. The proposal needs to pass a stage before it can progress to the next one. When assessing market-led proposals, Queensland Treasury needs to satisfy itself that the proposed project will deliver value‑for‑money and positive outcomes for the state, and that it could not deliver a better outcome under a competitive tender process. Key elements the department needs to consider includes: alignment with government priority/community need, if it delivers value-for-money, and if the proposal offers a unique competitive advantage. Additional elements of the assessment criteria are cost and risk allocation, financial and technical capacity and capability, and feasibility.
Collecting state revenue
This audit will assess how efficiently and effectively the Queensland Government collects taxes and royalties.
Responsibility for the management of taxation and royalties within Queensland Treasury rests with the Office of State Revenue. For the 2015–16 financial year, Queensland Treasury recognised revenue of over $10 billion from taxation and over $2 billion from royalties.
Revenue from taxation and royalties represents approximately 29 per cent of total revenue for the general government sector and 25 per cent of total revenue for the total state sector (which includes the general government sector). Amounts collected from taxation and royalties can vary from year to year due to external factors that the government cannot directly control.
Taxation revenue includes transfer duties, payroll tax, land tax, and gaming taxes. Royalties are charges for natural resources such as coal, petroleum, and liquefied natural gas extracted and sold by the private sector.
To collect state revenue, the Office of State Revenue uses the principles of behavioural economics to determine the best way to help people comply with their state tax obligations.
Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Protection
Implementing the National Disability Insurance Scheme
This audit will examine if the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services is rolling out the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Queensland effectively, and whether the scheme is meeting its intended objectives.
Since 1 July 2016, the National Disability Insurance Scheme has been progressively rolled out across Queensland. The plan is for it to be fully implemented by 30 June 2019. The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services is rolling it out geographically, meaning people will move to the scheme at various times depending on where they live.
Non-government organisations will deliver disability services in an open market environment. Those with a disability will engage providers through an agreement or contract. When the rollout is complete, around 97 000 Queenslanders with a significant or profound disability will have choice and control over the support they receive.
In the lead-up to full implementation in 2019, transitional arrangements will be in place between the Queensland Government and the National Disability Insurance Agency. During this period, the Queensland Government will be required to maintain the level of service to its current clients, as well as manage the complexities of new clients entering the scheme.
This audit will examine whether Queensland Health has achieved value for money from its investment in digitising hospital projects, and realised the intended information sharing and patient benefits.
‘Digital’ hospitals provide each patient’s extended healthcare team with electronic access to the patient’s records. They do this to improve the timeliness and safety of healthcare services. Digital hospitals allow medical staff to make electronic records, automatically upload observations and vital signs from medical equipment, integrate records, and provide faster information to care providers.
Digital hospitals go a step further than facilities who have integrated electronic medical records (ieMR). Hospitals use ieMR to provide clinicians and support staff with secure electronic access to a patient’s medical records across health facilities.
Currently Princess Alexandra and Cairns hospitals are Queensland’s only digital hospitals. Four other facilities are ieMR sites and a further two facilities are scheduled to become digital hospitals.
The current budget for the ieMR project is $376 million to complete the project.
Preventing and responding to domestic violence
This audit will examine how effective public sector initiatives have been in preventing and responding to domestic violence.
On 10 September 2014, the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland was established. In February 2015, the taskforce finalised its report, Not now, Not ever: Putting a stop to domestic and family violence in Queensland. The taskforce reports that domestic violence in Queensland has continued to increase, costing the state’s economy between $2.7 and $3.2 billion annually.
In its subsequent budgets, the Queensland Government committed to an overall funding package of $198.2 million to respond to the issues and recommendations in the Not now, Not ever: Putting a stop to domestic and family violence in Queensland report.
Integrated care approach to chronic disease
This audit will assess how effectively and efficiently Queensland Health is managing integrated care of chronic disease, including how they work with primary health networks and general practitioners.
Queensland Health’s Your health, Queensland's future: Advancing health 2026 strategy outlines that cardiovascular disease and cancer are the primary cause of death for Queenslanders. It also explains that improving the integration of care to patients with chronic disease is an important strategy for achieving better outcomes.
The term 'chronic disease' refers to a group of diseases that tend to be long-lasting and have persistent effects. They account for 88 per cent of the burden of disease and 91 per cent of all deaths. Chronic disease costs $45.8 billion nationally, or 87 per cent of recurrent allocated health expenditure, and up to $5 billion per year in Queensland. It can also have a significant impact on work productivity. The Australian Government, the state and territory governments, and primary care providers share the management of chronic disease.
Integrated care aims to improve patient experience by better coordinating an individual’s care across primary and preventative care, mental health, and specialist and hospital care. Better coordination of care is also designed to avoid unnecessary services and hospitalisations, thereby reducing costs. The Queensland Government has developed a $35 million integrated care innovation fund for integrated care projects.
Following on from this audit, we will consider assessing how effectively Queensland Health manages integrated care for high risk groups (such as the elderly or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people).
This audit will assess if the Department of Health’s and the Department of Education’s strategies are effectively reducing childhood obesity.
The health of Queenslanders 2016 report states that 19 per cent of children in Queensland are overweight and a further seven per cent are obese. This rate has not changed since 2007–08. The rate of childhood obesity 30 years ago was two per cent.
Childhood obesity can have a range of adverse consequences including social discrimination, poor self-esteem, depression, and childhood type 2 diabetes. In the longer term, obese children have a higher likelihood of adult health problems such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some forms of cancer, and joint problems. These consequences can cause significant individual morbidity and mortality, lost productivity, and increased direct health care costs.
Your health, Queensland's future: Advancing health 2026 is a 10-year vision and strategy for the Queensland health system. It was released in 2016. One headline measure of success in this strategy is to reduce childhood obesity by 10 per cent by 2026.
There are important links between health and education. Those with higher educational attainment tend to have better health generally. In addition, schools can deliver specific education initiatives to ensure children and families are aware of how to eat healthily and are aware of the importance of nutrition and weight in the context of overall health.
Health care pathways (wait list management)
This audit will assess the effectiveness of strategies employed to ensure patients receive the most appropriate treatment within the recommended time.
Public patients are referred to specialists from emergency departments or their general practitioner. Hospital and Health Sservices develop guidelines which help the referring doctors decide to whom they will refer patients and ensure the doctors provide appropriate information.
Long waiting times and inappropriate referrals to specialist medical appointments can contribute to sub-optimal outcomes for patients. As at 1 January 2017, the Department of Health reported 190 158 patients were waiting for a specialist outpatient appointment. Patients waiting longer than clinically recommended periods of time varied between two and 56 per cent depending on the speciality.
The Department of Health establishes outpatient waiting times as an important performance measure in their service agreements with the Hospital and Health Services and assigns funding for this initiative. The Queensland health sector has several strategies to address specialist outpatient waiting times including the Specialist Outpatient Strategy and the Clinical Prioritisation Criteria program (currently being developed).
Delivering guardianship services
This audit will assess the effectiveness of Queensland’s guardianship system and its processes for supporting adults with a decision-making incapacity.
The Queensland guardianship system protects the rights and interests of individuals who do not have the capacity to make decisions for themselves. It aims to provide adequate and appropriate support for individuals to make decisions, with as much autonomy as possible. The law assumes an adult has the capacity to make a decision, unless evidence proves otherwise. Capacity is defined as an individual’s ability to:
- understand the nature and effect of decisions
- freely and voluntarily make decisions
- communicate those decisions in some way.
It is important to assess the level of capacity in the context of the decision that the individual is making. While an individual’s decision-making capacity may be impaired, they may still be able to make some decisions for themselves. Therefore, depending on the level of impairment in the situation, the individual may require someone to make the decision on their behalf, or may only require support to make the decision themselves.
In the Queensland guardianship system, there are several agencies which together are responsible for providing an effective and integrated service that supports and promotes the rights of adults with impaired decision-making capacity.
Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources
Managing local government rates, fees and charges
This audit will assess whether councils are setting rates, fees, and charges that are appropriate, reliable, and relevant for the services they provide, and that support long-term financial sustainability.
For many local governments (councils), rates are generally the major revenue source outside of federal assistance grants. Rates provide one of the few financial levers available to councils to address financial sustainability issues. Councils have discretion to set rates, and may do so without assessing future service delivery requirements or longer-term financial risks. Inequitable or insufficient rating practices can lead to community disharmony. They can also lead to financially unsustainable councils that may be overly reliant on grant funding or borrowings.
Non-Indigenous councils generate more than $6.7 billion in rates and charges annually, representing 59 per cent of their total revenue. Indigenous councils do not charge rates.
Evaluating major infrastructure projects
The audit will assess how effectively agencies examine major infrastructure proposals and develop business cases that stand to maximise value for money, align with state government priorities and met community needs.
The quality of infrastructure investment decisions correlates with how successful a project is and how it will have the desired economic and social impact on the state. It is critical for the state government to effectively assess investment decisions to ensure they are sound, will achieve economic benefits and value-for-money, and will ultimately deliver a positive outcome.
Building Queensland provides the Queensland Government with independent, expert advice on major infrastructure to better inform infrastructure decisions for its pipeline of projects. Building Queensland has developed a Business Case Development Framework to assist government agencies with the development of major infrastructure proposals. The guidance supplements the Project Assessment Framework, and provides detailed advice on how to develop a robust business case.
Strategic asset management in local government
This audit will assess if councils are effectively managing their infrastructure assets to maximise their service potential while minimising their total cost of ownership.
Asset management is critical to the long-term financial sustainability of the local government sector. Without full knowledge of the type, performance, cost, and age of their assets, councils are limited in their ability to make fully informed decisions about their asset renewal, maintenance, and replacement.
As at 30 June 2016, councils were responsible for $85 billion worth of infrastructure assets, including roads and bridges, buildings, water supply and sewerage networks, and stormwater drainage. At this time, only 47 per cent of Queensland councils had up-to-date asset management plans.
During 2015–16, the local government sector spent $1.4 billion on the renewal of assets. To provide the best level of service to their communities, it is important that councils implement and practise sound asset management principles.
Capital asset management and planning
This audit will assess how efficiently and effectively the Queensland Government estimates and delivers its capital programs.
The annual budget cycle of the Queensland Government includes a Capital Statement. This statement presents an overview of proposed capital outlays by each Queensland Government department each year, as well as a summary of the government’s approach to infrastructure provision. Capital outlays are broken down into capital purchases (including acquisitions under finance leases) and capital grants.
The level of capital expenditure over the 2017-18 forward estimates is forecast to exceed $42 billion, with growth largely attributable to additional infrastructure investment associated with the state infrastructure fund.
Historically, Queensland Government agencies have been unable to spend the approved capital funds in the budget period. This increases the risk that government assets are unable to effectively support the delivery of key social services, or to support the state’s development, the needs of local communities, and local employment opportunities.
The state’s budget sector has underspent its capital program by more than $7.7 billion (14 per cent) over the last five financial years.
Managing the cost of local government services
This audit will assess whether councils are delivering their services to the community efficiently and economically.
Sustainability is a key factor in determining the longevity of councils all around Australia. Limited federal funding has challenged councils to review their services and ensure their resources are used effectively to get better outcomes for their respective communities. In managing financial sustainability, it is important that councils are aware of what services they provide, the cost of these services, and how they can improve the delivery of these services to achieve cost-efficiency.
Development applications and approvals
This audit will assess whether the processes for local government development applications and approvals are timely, efficient, and effective, and comply with relevant regulatory requirements.
Over the past few years, there have been several changes to the legislative framework that underpins the development application and approval process.
These changes can contribute to increased risk and complexity in how applications are processed. Further complexity arises from other factors including changing regulatory instruments, local versus state government requirements, and the nature of the application itself.
Depending on the development, the application may be assessed by either the local government or the state government.
The State Planning Policy, which commenced on 29 April 2016, is being reviewed, and a final revised policy is expected to be released in mid-2017.
Legal Affairs and Community Safety
Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry
This audit will assess how well the Queensland Government has implemented the recommendations for reform arising from the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry (QCPCI).
In response to the QCPCI, the Queensland Government is implementing a new child and family support system over the next 10 years. It is intended to have a greater focus on supporting families in providing a safe and secure home for their children.
This response reinforces that parents and families are responsible for the care and safety of their children, with the government's role being to support parents and families by providing the right services at the right time for those in need. Implementing the reforms will require a fundamental shift in the way government agencies, child safety professionals, and community organisations work with vulnerable families, and with each other.
The Queensland Government will invest $406 million over five years from 2014–15 to 2018–19 to better support the state’s most vulnerable families and children.
Delivering forensic services
This audit will examine the efficiency and effectiveness of forensic services and whether they are delivered on a timely basis and to appropriate quality standards.
Forensic service branches across various government agencies provide expert analysis and advice in civil emergencies, criminal investigations, and the coroners’ inquiries into reportable deaths.
These services are increasingly important in the detection and conviction of crime. Delays to forensic testing and analysis can reduce the chances of successfully detecting and apprehending offenders and delay the administration of justice. Failures of quality assurance in the system can lead to the failure of prosecutions and, in extreme cases, to miscarriages of justice.
The availability of an increasing range of forensic tests as well as the more regular use of forensics for the investigation of volume crime (such as burglary, robbery, and vehicle crime) has seen a growth in the number of tests conducted in all jurisdictions, including Queensland. While beneficial, this growth also has significant cost and resource implications.
Deploying police resources
This audit will examine how efficiently and effectively the Queensland Police Service deploys its resources to maximise public safety.
The Queensland Police Service has over 13 000 operational staff and 14 000 total staff. It is responsible for providing policing services to more than 4.8 million Queenslanders, who are spread over more than 1.7 million square kilometres.
Deploying police resources efficiently and effectively means using the most appropriate types and number of resources in the right place at the right time to maximise public safety outcomes.
Two objectives that the Queensland Police Service commits to in its Strategic Plan 2016–20 are to:
- use technology and innovative strategies to be more mobile, flexible, and capable of working across boundaries to deliver services to meet the community needs
- focus resources to identify and deliver effective and efficient services that maximise public safety.
Diverting young offenders from crime
This audit will examine the effectiveness of youth justice diversion and rehabilitation initiatives to support young people in better connecting with the community and reducing their risk of reoffending.
Offending by young people can stem from a range of complex social problems such as family dysfunction, poor educational outcomes, unemployment, and substance abuse. Addressing the root causes of offending can help young people better connect with their communities and reduce the risk of them committing future crimes.
The Department of Justice and Attorney‑General is responsible for youth justice. It is responsible for a range of programs and initiatives intended to divert young offenders from the justice system and help them to avoid the risk of reoffending.
Public Works and Utilities
Regulating builder registration
This audit will assess how effectively the Queensland Building and Construction Commission regulates builder registration.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission is a regulatory body that provides support to the state’s building industry. It does this by upholding proper building standards and by investigating defective building work.
The commission provides four main services for Queensland home owners and contractors:
- licensing services
- dispute prevention and resolution services
- home warranty insurance
- information and education.
In 2015–16, complaints about the Queensland Building and Construction Commission made up 15 per cent of all complaints to the Queensland Ombudsman regarding statutory authorities.
Delivering social housing and housing services
This audit will assess whether social housing programs are effectively and efficiently meeting the needs of vulnerable Queenslanders.
Improving housing affordability, reducing homelessness, and assisting Queenslanders to access the private housing market remain key priorities of the Queensland Government. In June 2017, the government published it’s 10-year housing strategy (2017–2027). Through its new strategy, the government aims to transform how it delivers housing services, providing for every Queenslander to have access to safe, secure and affordable housing that meets their needs and allows them to participate in society.
The Department of Housing and Public Works is changing the way it does business with organisations funded to deliver social housing and ancillary housing services. The department’s initiatives include bond loans, rental grants, RentConnect, the Home Assist Secure program, and the National Rental Affordability Scheme. These are all aimed at helping low income earners to access and keep housing in the private rental market.
Monitoring and managing dam safety
This audit will assess whether the Department of Energy and Water Supply is effectively monitoring dam safety and prioritising remediation of referred dams.
The owner of a dam is responsible for safety. Having a dam safety management program in place can minimise the risk of its failure, and the potential impact on human life and property.
Under the provisions of the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008, the Department of Energy and Water Supply is responsible for the regulation of dams that are referrable. (Referrable dams are those that dam owners have assessed as putting people at risk in the event of failure.)
Around half of referrable dams in Queensland are owned by Seqwater (26 dams) and Sunwater (23 dams). All referrable dam owners must have an approved emergency action plan in place.
The Department of Energy and Water Supply may put safety conditions on referrable dams, including requiring the undertaking of works to improve their integrity.
Contribute to our audit program
We welcome suggestions from members of the public about our proposed or any new potential performance audit topics, as well as contributions to performance audits that are currently in progress. When suggesting new topics, or contributing to an open audit, the submissions need to relate to public sector entities or money being spent on public services. Any contribution can be made confidentially and your personal information is protected by the Information Privacy Act 2009.
Prior strategic audit plans
QAO's Strategic Audit Plans from 2012 to 2019 are available below.