24/11/2021 - 15:02

Record rate of audit issues in WA government

24/11/2021 - 15:02

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Hundreds of management and system control weaknesses have been found across state government departments, with a record number of red marks from auditors.

Record rate of audit issues in WA government
Seventeen state entities had qualified audit opinions. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Hundreds of management and system control weaknesses have been found across state government departments, with a record number of red marks from auditors.

Earlier this week, Business News revealed the Department of Communities and Housing Authority had received qualified audit results from the Auditor General because of payroll system issues.

A qualified audit opinion shows that the auditor found issues with a business’s financial systems and records, while an unqualified opinion suggests a clean bill of health.

The audits, which are part of the annual report process, found 427 financial management and 403 information system control weaknesses, the Office of the Auditor General said.

There were 17 state government entities with issues in 31 separate matters, up from 11 matters last year at seven entities.

Other state government entities with problems included the Building and Construction Industry Training Board, Department of Health, and Gaming and Wagering Commission.

For the Corruption and Crime Commission, the Office of the Auditor General said it had identified significant deficiencies in controls for recording information under one of its Key Performance Indicators.

At the Public Transport Authority, the Auditor General said controls over capital and operating spending were inadequate in ensuring conflict of interest declarations were disclosed prior to contract awards.

Auditor General Caroline Spencer said the number of entities with issues was of great concern.

‘This is a very concerning and significant upward trend in audit qualifications particularly in controls around expenditure, payroll and information systems, most likely reflecting a public sector that is resource constrained in some areas, and COVID-19 fatigued and diverted,’ Ms Spencer said.

The office said 28 per cent of financial management issues were unresolved from the prior year, and 49 per cent of information system weaknesses.

‘It is not uncommon to see a breakdown in some controls during times of increased tempo and uncertainty, but an effective control environment is essential for enabling an entity to achieve its objectives and to help prevent and detect fraud,” Ms Spencer said. 

“It is also essential to ensure continued delivery of quality services to the community.”

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