John H.
Man in dark suit jacket, wearing light checkered shirt, dark tie and glasses.

The Queensland Audit Office’s forward work plan is readily available on our website, providing transparency around our audit priorities and the reports we intend to table in parliament over the next 3 years.

While we publish our forward work plan once a year, we are constantly revisiting it to reassess and refine existing topics, while also looking for new topics or risks to the delivery of public services that we need to address. This process ensures we respond to the most important risks at the right time and can most effectively support public sector entities, including local governments, and the Queensland Parliament.

An important part of this process is regular engagement with key stakeholders. Input from our clients and stakeholders, including the wider Queensland community, is a valuable source of information. Anyone can suggest potential audit topics, at any time, via our website:

Of course we cannot audit everything. Accordingly, we have developed a robust process that allows us to assess both new and existing audit topics to ensure we select those audits that matter most to Queenslanders. We also look for topics where we think there is the most to learn. Our plan also considers the size and complexity of the audits to ensure we can deliver them efficiently, effectively, and economically. Our aim is to develop a final plan that provides balance across the different areas and entities we audit.

What is the benefit of having a forward plan of work?

Our plan of work helps drive change across areas of strategic risk – not just for the entities we audit but across the wider public sector through the learnings we share with all.

Through our plan, we provide transparency to parliament on the work we intend to perform and why we consider it important. Our plan also gives our clients as much advance notice as possible of the areas we plan to examine. This allows them time to prepare for the audit, minimising disruptions and enabling timely insights into public service delivery.

We work with entities in advance of starting an audit to refine the scope, particularly for the outer-year topics. This helps to inform how we will undertake an audit, providing us with the flexibility to delay, bring forward, or even no longer continue topics. This means our insights and recommendations drive continuous improvement in public sector governance and services.

How do we select what to audit?

Strategic focus areas

Central to our approach is identifying strategic or critical risks to public service delivery. The forward work plan ensures all our work – our financial audits, performance audits, and assurance activities – work together to provide a picture of public sector and local government performance. It also sheds light on contextual factors impacting public service delivery, providing a holistic view of the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Identifying audit topics

We use a rigorous process to identify potential audit topics, drawing insights from various intelligence sources such as environmental scans, our financial audits, stakeholder consultations, and emerging trends.

Through this multifaceted approach, we ensure the topics on our plan align with government priorities and the needs of the community.

Graphic showing our sources for intelligence gathering

A structured selection process

Deciding the final planned audit topics from all these sources is just part of our ongoing selection process. Once we have identified potential topics, we use a structured and meticulous process to select which ones we will include on our plan. This involves viability checks, value and priority assessments, and moderation. We evaluate each proposed topic based on its impact, importance, and influence, ensuring that we allocate our resources to areas where we can be a catalyst for meaningful change.

Graphic showing QAO value and priority assessment of audit topics

To select the topics for the draft plan we:

  • check the viability of a suggested topic to ensure it fits within our mandate – that is, it is appropriate for us to audit. We also undertake some research and analysis to check that a report would be able to deliver value for our clients
  • prioritise which topics we can do, by rating each topic and assessing the potential impact, importance, and our ability to influence change. We also consider a topic’s complexity and how we cover the social, environmental, and economic or financial issues that Queenslanders care about
  • moderate the list by confirming a balance across the different types of audits, coverage of entities, and the responsible parliamentary committee. We also consider how the list of topics relates to the risks we have identified from our ongoing audit work, engagement with our clients, and the government’s stated priorities and commitments.

By checking the viability of topics, prioritising which ones we can do, and moderating the list, we are able to update the forward work plan by June each year. The work needed and consultation with stakeholders doesn’t just happen all at once.

Consultation and communication

Transparency is key throughout the process, and we actively engage with parliamentary committees, entities, and stakeholders such as peak bodies and the other integrity bodies to gather feedback on proposed topics. This consultative approach not only enhances the quality of our audits, but also fosters accountability with entities and trust with our stakeholders who rely on the resultant reports to parliament, such as parliamentary committees.

Before finalising our plan each year, we provide our key stakeholders with our proposed plan for the next 3 years and ask them to provide feedback on it. We consider the feedback we receive in finalising the plan before publishing it on our website. We also advise stakeholders of how we considered their feedback in finalising the plan.

Adaptability and evolution

While the forward work plan provides a roadmap for QAO's activities, it needs to remain flexible to accommodate changes in government priorities, emerging risks, or unforeseen events like the COVID-19 pandemic.

This may require us to revise our audit focus areas. If this happens, we will update our plan and tell our clients of our changed focus.

Sharing our insights and recommendations

The culmination of our efforts in preparing our forward work plan is in delivering insightful reports to parliament. By engaging closely with entities and stakeholders, we can encourage more likely implementation of the recommendations for improvement we make in our reports, ultimately driving continuous improvement in public sector governance and service delivery.


In an era where accountability and transparency are paramount, we strive to lead by example and ensure we focus on the right topics at the right time. By taking a thorough, consultative, and defensible approach to planning our work, we endeavour to uphold public trust and support our clients to implement change for the betterment of Queenslanders' lives.


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