DHA’s operations are subject to scrutiny from a number of Parliamentary committees and external entities.
This section outlines the external scrutiny mechanisms under which we operate on which we report in accordance with the PGPA Rule.
Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
In 2019–20, DHA was not the subject of any inquiries or reports by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (the Committee). DHA officers and the Minister for Defence appeared before the Committee on 23 October 2019 and 4 March 2020. DHA responded to Questions on Notice.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works
In March 2014, in accordance with subsection 6A(3) of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, DHA received exemption from scrutiny by the Public Works Committee (PWC) for works we undertake in providing housing and related services for ADF members and their families.
We notify or refer any projects we undertake on behalf of Defence on Commonwealth land to the PWC as follows:
- medium works with a proposed cost of over $15 million but fewer than $75 million
- major works with a proposed cost of more than $75 million.
In 2019–20, we did not make any new submissions to the PWC. We progressed work on the following PWC endorsed projects:
- Seaward Village, Swanbourne (WA)
- Randwick Barracks (NSW).
Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)
DHA was the subject of an ANAO Performance Audit (Management of Defence Housing Australia) which commenced in April 2019. On 9 April 2020, the report was tabled in the Senate and published on the ANAO website. In its report, the ANAO identified four recommendations and some further findings. DHA’s Accountable Authority agreed with all recommendations.
We will continue to work closely with the Department of Defence, particularly to meet the recommendations regarding housing philanthropic organisations, addressing key performance indicators, and the study of comparative costs of a service residence and rent allowance.
DHA has convened a working group with representatives from both DHA and Defence; to prosecute the acquittal of the recommendations and findings. The BARC is providing regular oversight and reports through to the DHA Board.
In accordance with the ANAO’s better practice guidelines, in 2019–20 DHA representatives and BARC members considered a number of published reports on other agency operations that were relevant to DHA, including:
- Cyber resilience of government business enterprises and corporate Commonwealth entities (Report No. 1 of 2019–20)
- Defence’s administration of travel allowances and entitlements paid to APS employees (Report No. 2 of 2019–20)
- Defence’s Quarterly Performance Report on Acquisition and Sustainment (Report No. 3 of 2019–20)
- OneSKY: Contractual Arrangements (Report No. 4 of 2019–20)
- Implementation of ANAO and Parliamentary Committee recommendations
(Report No. 6 of 2019–20).
DHA maintains a collaborative and productive working relationship with the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman. We review any reports published and monitor any recommendations implemented.
In 2019–20, the Commonwealth Ombudsman received 19 complaints related to DHA. As at 30 June 2020, the Ombudsman’s office had investigated one complaint. The remaining 18 complaints were managed using early resolution tools, including referring complainants to DHA (as they had not previously sought assistance from DHA) or referring complainants to another oversight agency for consideration.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman did not publish any reports relating to DHA under section 15 of the Ombudsman Act 1976 in the reporting period.
Information Publication Scheme
DHA is subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) and publishes information in relation to the Information Publication Scheme on our website (www.dha.gov.au/foi). The published information includes a disclosure log and information about the FOI Act and DHA’s Information Publication Scheme Agency Plan.
Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
DHA maintains a collaborative and productive working relationship with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC). We review any reports published and monitor any recommendations implemented.
In 2019–20, DHA was not subject to any OAIC reviews and there were no eligible data breaches reported to the OAIC under the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme.