Local government entities: 2016–17 results of financial audits

(Report 13: 2017–18)

Audit objective

This report summarises the financial audit results of the 77 Queensland local governments.

Overview

Queensland's local governments are involved in a wide range of activities—from delivering key community services, such as roads, water, sewerage and waste treatment, to providing banking, retail, medical, cultural and recreational services.

Most local governments, and the entities that they control, produce annual financial statements. How useful these statements are depends on their quality and the time taken to produce them. Timely and accurate financial reporting is essential for effective decision-making, managing of public funds and assets, and the delivery of public accountability.

This report summarises the financial audit results of the 77 Queensland local governments. It also summarises the financial audit results of the 79 entities they control that produced financial statements for the financial year ending 30 June 2017. The report analyses the performance, position and sustainability of Queensland's local governments, and evaluates the timeliness and quality of financial reporting.

Recommendations

As part of each audit, we make recommendations to councils about how to improve their financial management.

We recommend that councils take prompt action to address individual recommendations and resolve internal control deficiencies, with a focus on those outstanding since prior years. This is to help mitigate the risk of fraud or error.

In addition, we recommend the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs mandate:

1. financial statements of controlled entities be made publicly available.

2. audit committees for all councils.

We also recommend that councils:

3. continue to assess their processes for ensuring that asset registers are complete and remain current over time.

4. review and update their month end close processes to include:

  • monthly accrual statements of comprehensive income and financial position and cash flow information
  • variance analysis, key ratios, trends and other non-financial information that will enable the councillors and council executives to better understand the council’s financial performance and outlook.

5. review their accounting for rehabilitation of landfills. This should include:

  • assessing open and closed landfill sites and whether a liability has been recognised
  • ensuring all future costs associated with their obligations under their environmental authority are included in the provision.

6. review their monitoring controls and memberships of their controlled entities’ boards and:

  • appoint independent directors to provide specialist skills, experience and diversity
  • establish appropriate mechanisms for oversight and to manage conflicts of interest.

Other reports and resources

Better practice: Fraud risk assessment and planning tool
Forecasting long-term sustainability of local government (Report 2: 2016-17)
Local government entities: 2015-16 results of financial audits (Report 13: 2016-17)

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