Knowing how public sector and local government entities are progressing in implementing audit recommendations gives us, parliament, audit clients, and the wider community important information on the improvement of public service delivery.
We have always asked entities for an update on the implementation of its recommendations, and used the results to determine future follow-up audit topics. When we prepare our reports to parliament, we also ask entities if they agree with the recommendations. But, we cannot force them to act. The desire for continuous improvement and a culture of change ultimately must come from within entities themselves.
With the opportunity to glean valuable insights, and with increasing interest from its stakeholders, in 2020–21, we developed a new online system for entities to self‑assess their progress.
This new system gives entities a record of all the recommendations we have made to them (including those re-directed from machinery of government changes). It enables their audit committees to better monitor progress over time. And it identifies the recommendations we made more broadly across government that may be valuable for all to consider or learn from.
For our first use of this system in 2020, we asked 50 entities to self-assess their progress on the performance audit recommendations from 32 reports to parliament, tabled between 2015–16 and 2017–18. We started with earlier reports to allow a reasonable time for implementation.
The self-assessments showed that 72 per cent of our recommendations were fully implemented, 18 per cent partially, seven per cent not implemented, and three per cent no longer applicable. Of note, we did not audit the self-assessment response, or request supporting evidence, meaning we do not provide assurance over the results.
Valuably, our new approach is showing us which types of recommendations are not being implemented as quickly or thoroughly as others. This indicates which areas of government service delivery entities are finding most challenging. It will also help us ensure our future recommendations are as relevant and practicable as possible.
On 17 November 2021, for the first time, we tabled a report to parliament on the self-assessment results, and insights around our recommendations. An interactive data visualisation accompanies the report that allows users to explore information in more detail based on their area of responsibility or interest.
Next year, we will ask entities to report against 2018–19 and 2019–20 recommendations (and thereafter add another report year to each of the annual reports). We will also ask for updates on the ones that were reported as being partially or not implemented.
Over time, these yearly reports will provide insights on trends, challenges, and shared learnings, giving a more complete picture of the progress entities are making towards delivering better public services for Queenslanders.