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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade :: 2001-2002 Annual Report
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Contents Guide Overviews Performance Corporate

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Section 3: Corporate Management and Accountability

External scrutiny

Reports by the Australian National Audit Office
The Auditor-General tabled a number of cross-agency audits of relevance to departmental operations. The department provided six-monthly reports to the Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) on follow-up action taken in response to ANAO reports.

Report No. 5: Parliamentarians' entitlements
This audit was conducted in response to a November 2000 resolution of the Senate that the Auditor-General examine all expenditures and entitlements accruing to parliamentarians in 1999-2000. In response to audit recommendations, we undertook an internal review of administrative arrangements and controls governing the management of entitlements and support services provided by the department to ministers. This review resulted in the centralisation within the department of management and coordination of non-IT support services to ministers. A number of improvements have been introduced to relevant administrative processes to strengthen controls and accountability in line with the report's recommendations.

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Report No. 8: Disposal of infrastructure, plant and equipment
This audit assessed whether the disposal of infrastructure, plant and equipment assets was being carried out in accordance with government policy, relevant aspects of the asset management principles and applicable internal controls. Three of the eight recommendations stemming from this audit were implemented before the report was released. The remaining recommendations have since been incorporated into departmental procedures.

Report No. 10: Management of bank accounts by agencies
The objective of this audit was to determine whether agencies had implemented appropriate risk management strategies for banking arrangements and whether cash funds were being managed in accordance with appropriate legislation, the Commonwealth's agency banking guidelines and generally accepted accounting practices. The seven recommendations have been agreed to and implemented by the department.

Report No. 12: Selection, implementation and management of financial management information systems (FMIS) in Commonwealth agencies
The objective of this audit was to provide assurance on the effectiveness of FMIS implementations. Nine recommendations were made, and have been agreed to and implemented by the department.

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Report No. 13: Internet security within Commonwealth government agencies
This audit reviewed the management of Internet security with the objective of forming an opinion on the adequacy of Internet security management within selected agencies. Many of the report's recommendations had already been adopted in the development, operation and support of the department's major Internet systems. Additional recommendations were subsequently addressed and implemented to ensure departmental practice conformed to that recommended in the report.

Report No. 18: Performance information in portfolio budget statements
This audit examined the performance information in the 2000-01 portfolio budget statements with the objectives of assessing the appropriateness of: the reported information; the reporting of performance information in the annual report; and the agency arrangements to identify and collect this information. Current departmental practice is consistent with the audit's three recommendations. The performance information framework for the department was completely revised as the basis for the current annual report.

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Report No. 19: Payroll management
This audit assessed payroll management arrangements in Commonwealth agencies. Its nine recommendations were agreed to and have been implemented in the department.

Report No. 22: Personnel security-management of security clearances
This audit reviewed security clearance and vetting policies and practices across a number of Commonwealth agencies to determine whether organisations were managing these processes effectively, efficiently and in accordance with Commonwealth policy, as outlined in the Protective Security Manual. Its ten recommendations have been agreed to with eight already implemented and two in the process of being implemented.

Report No. 25: Accounts receivable
This audit assessed whether the processing, collection and overall management of the accounts receivable function was being performed in accordance with applicable legislation, government policy and relevant internal controls. The six recommendations were agreed to and have been implemented by the department.

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Report No. 27: Agency management of software licensing
This audit examined the management of software licensing. The two ANAO recommendations were agreed to and incorporated into departmental procedures.

Report No. 45: Record keeping
This audit considered whether record keeping policies, systems and processes accord with requirements of the Archives Act 1983, relevant government policies and with accepted standards and record keeping principles. It sought also to identify better practices and recommend improvements. Its six recommendations were agreed to and implemented by the department.

Report No. 52: Internal budgeting
This audit focused on examining internal budgeting as an essential part of effective financial management and as a critical process for the successful implementation of the accrual-based outputs and outcomes framework. Four of the five recommendations have been implemented. The remaining recommendation (No. 3) has been noted and the department will examine the possibility of conducting the recommended study once the outcomes of its review of internal budgeting practice are fully implemented.

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Report No. 53: Goods and services tax administration by Commonwealth organisations
The audit objective was to determine whether organisations had implemented adequate control frameworks and processes to mitigate the risks associated with GST obligations and transactions. All eight recommendations have been implemented by the department.

Report No. 64: Management of learning and development in the APS
The objective of this audit was to examine and report on the key management factors in APS agencies that assist in ensuring value for money in learning and development. In addition to participating in a survey of all APS agencies, the department was one of five agencies examined in detail. There were no specific audit recommendations for the department to implement but we have considered and embraced as appropriate the better practice principles outlined in the report (see under training and development on page 206 for further details).

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Courts and administrative tribunals
Five long running legal matters were resolved in the reporting period. Two of these cases involved modest settlement payments against the Commonwealth. The other three cases were dismissed. Details of these matters and other matters currently before the courts and tribunals are at Appendix 8.

Parliamentary committees
The department made submissions or gave evidence to five parliamentary committee inquiries in 2001-02, details of which are at Appendix 7.

Ombudsman
The Commonwealth Ombudsman arrived at two negative findings with respect to the department's activities in 2001-02. Nineteen other matters were investigated, although none of these resulted in negative findings.

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Legislation
The process for adoption of all portfolio-related legislation was managed effectively. The Foreign Affairs Legislation Amendment (Application of Criminal Code) Regulations 2002 was assented to on 28 February 2002, finalising the Criminal Code harmonisation process. The department also facilitated amendment of the Passports Regulations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (Privileges and Immunities) Regulations. Substantial work was performed on amendments to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (Privileges and Immunities) Regulations and Diplomatic and Consular Privileges and Immunities (Indirect Tax Concession Scheme) Determinations. The department also contributed to development of legislation initiated by other portfolios that affected the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio.

Compensation for detriment caused by defective administration
We efficiently handled the compensation scheme for detriment caused by defective administration. Five cases were lodged under this scheme. All these cases were approved, and paid for from departmental funds. Payments totalled $2 578 (see also administered items for Outcome 1 at page 126).

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