External and internal scrutiny
The Commission’s processes, which provide for high levels of transparency and community participation in its work, are a key means of promoting external scrutiny. These processes are outlined in detail in Generating effective debate.
External scrutiny is also promoted through the Commission’s extensive reporting, in various publications, of different aspects of its work.
Both the Commission and the Australian Government Competitive Neutrality Complaints Office (which has separate functions although located within the Commission) have service charters.
Performance against the charters is monitored on an exceptions basis — that is, by complaints to designated senior managers. No complaints were received during 2018‑19 in respect of either charter.
The Auditor-General issued an unqualified independent audit report on the Commission’s 2018‑19 financial statements.
During 2018‑19, the Auditor‑General published a Performance Audit Report (no. 27 of 2018‑19) titled Closing the Gap. The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of arrangements for monitoring, evaluating and reporting progress towards Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. Although the Commission has a role in these arrangements and assisted the review, there were no specific recommendations by the Auditor‑General in respect of the Commission’s work. The report is available at https://www.anao.gov.au/work/performance-audit/closing-the-gap.
The Commission engages an accounting firm to undertake a program of internal audit reviews. In 2018‑19, the program included a conflict of interest control self-assessment and a review of strategic business risks.
The Audit Committee also plays an important internal scrutiny role. The Committee’s efforts during the year related mainly to:
- oversight of the Commission’s internal audit program
- consideration of the annual financial statements
- scrutiny of the Commission’s risk management assessment and plan
- reviews of relevant ANAO reports.
The use of Commission reports by Federal parliamentary committees during the year is discussed in the Annual Performance Statement and Generating effective debate. The Commission is invited to appear before Senate Committees to assist the work of Federal Parliament and facilitate scrutiny of its work. It was requested to attend Senate Estimates hearings on two occasions in 2018‑19 with appearances by the Chair and senior staff before the Senate Standing Committee on Economics on 20 February and 10 April 2019.
The Commission’s website continues to provide a valuable source of information about the current work of the Commission, its publications and other activities. During 2018‑19, the Commission continued to develop its use of social media to raise awareness of its work and promote participation in its public inquiries. The use of infographics and videos to highlight and promote aspects of the Commission’s work also continued.