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Thursday, 20 September 2007
Page: 189

Mr Gibbons asked the Minister for Workforce Participation, in writing, on 7 August 2007:

(1)   Can she confirm that upon receiving complaints about an employment service organisation, her department is instructed to advise the service organisation that it intends to undertake an audit of the organisation’s finances, prior to any such audit taking place.

(2)   What is her response to the claim that prior warning of an audit may provide an employment service organisation with the opportunity to falsify records for the auditor.

(3)   What mechanisms exist to prevent employment service organisations from falsifying records following warning of an audit; if no such mechanisms exist, what action will be taken in future to prevent the presentation of falsified records by employment service organisations.

Dr Stone (Minister for Workforce Participation) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   It is usual for the department to give reasonable notice to an employment service provider when the department requires access to the provider’s premises, sites or records as part of the normal contract management process. However, the general conditions to the Employment Service Contract 2006-2009 note that the provision of reasonable prior notice does not apply where a matter is being investigated which may involve a breach of the law, or suspected fraud.

(2)   The risk that prior warning of an audit may allow an employment service provider an opportunity to falsify records must be balanced with providing appropriate notice to such organisations as part of the normal contract management process. This balance has been addressed within the context of the department’s risk management analysis, and adequate controls are in place.

(3)   The department has in place a range of mechanisms to both prevent and detect fraud. While it is not appropriate to detail these mechanisms (as to do so may undermine the integrity of such controls), some examples include record retention requirements, data matching of electronic records submitted to the department with paper records kept by the provider, and robust programme assurance and compliance processes undertaken within the contract management and fraud control environment.