Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Centrelink gets bad audit report

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-03-07

On 2007-02-22, ANAO (Australian National Audit Office) delivered a yet another scathing report on project delivery within Centrelink.  Previous reports (since before 2000) outlined problems and noted that Centrelink promised to do better.  Surpise! Surprise! Another false promise from Centrelink.

This raises extremely serious questions about Centrelink’s involvement with the controversial AccessCard.

ANAO’s criticism is always "diplomatic", and previous reports forced Centrelink to publish a strategic document in 2000, the Centrelink Project Management Framework (CPMF).  ANAO considers this document adequate, but “the processes put in place, to date, have not been effective”.

However, the ANAO observed that the way in which the CPMF has been promulgated did not in itself provide for fully effective control and transparency of projects at the strategic level.

If Centrelink had merely sent a memo to all project managers pointing to the CPMF, and required sign-off on all projects (or recorded and censured/punished non-compliance by individuals), at any stage in the last 6 years, this could have been fixed.

Projects were supposed to be monitored by the CPR (Centrelink Project Register).

the CPR contained a significant number of errors, omissions and variations in relation to critical project definition and planning documentation (such as business cases, cost estimates, business impact assessments, risk assessments and project management plans)

The Department also closely scrutinises the progress of major policy implementation.

This implies that it’s not just a Centrelink problem, but the Department of Human Services who presumably monitor and report to the Minister about major policies.  Ergo, the Minister knows about the stuffups, or is unconcerned about the implementation of major policies.  And yet have we heard of any Ministers being censured for wasting money, any senior departmental staff given the chop?

On the IMPC (Investment and Major Projects Committee) and CPO (Centrelink Projects Office)…

On the basis of analysis of its sample of 30 projects, and the detailed examination of four of these projects, the ANAO found that the CPO did not use the large volume of monitoring information provided by individual project teams appropriately to advise the IMPC on the progress of the projects. As a consequence, the IMPC’s monitoring and review has in the past been largely ineffective…

But there is an obligation to manage Commonwealth resources properly, and Centrelink needs to proactively manage and be accountable for the results of projects.

It’s an extensive report (112 pp), and also notes that these issues apply to many other agencies, as well as the impact of wasted money on the funds Centrelink needs to do other things that benefit the community.

The response of Alex Dolan, Acting Deputy Secretary of Dept of Human Services includes a typical hands-washing…

I have noted Centrelink’s proposed response to the report’s recommendations and I do not consider it necessary for the Department to comment formally on those recommendations as well. I will, however, monitor Centrelink’s implementation of your recommendations.

Does this mean the new minister will be kept informed and be held accountable? Fat chance!

I urge you to raise the incapacity of Centrelink to manage the complicated implementation of AccessCard with your local member.


One Response to “Centrelink gets bad audit report”

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