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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7092

Senator Sherry asked the Minister for Finance and Administration, upon notice, on 8 October 2002:

With reference to Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit report no. 65 tabled on 28 June 2002, Management of Commonwealth Superannuation Benefits to Members - ComSuper:

(1) Which Commonwealth agencies is the ANAO report referring to, in key finding 23 and paragraph 3.29, when it states that, `as at December 2001, some 30% of employers fail to provide employment details within 10 days of each payday'.

(2) Which Commonwealth agencies, if any, is the ANAO report referring to, in key finding 23, when it states that `ComSuper has experienced delays from some employers not providing compliant data for over 12 months'.

(3) In figure 3.10 the ANAO report lists four agencies (the Australian Customs Service and the Departments of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Veterans' Affairs) that have experienced high rates of failure to report new members and/or changes in member contribution rates to ComSuper: (a) which other agencies, if any, have experienced comparable rates of reporting failure; and (b) what steps have been taken at an agency level to address these failures.

(4) Which agency is the ANAO report referring to when, in paragraph 3.10, it states `that, for 12 weeks in 1999-2000, one agency failed to forward to ComSuper on time the payments for member contributions, productivity contributions, additional cover, and employer liability' and that `ComSuper charged the agency $75 736 [in] penalty interest'.

(5) In paragraphs 4.15 and 4.17 the ANAO report notes that, in `June 2001, some 43% of benefit applications were pending, due to either benefit application problems or problems with the member's record': (a) what proportion of these pending applications was a result of problems with members' records; (b) how many benefit applications are currently pending; (c) what proportion of total benefit applications does this represent; (d) what proportion of the current set of pending applications is a result of problems with the members' records; and (e) what was the average time that benefit applications spent pending in 2001-02.

Senator Minchin (Minister for Finance and Administration) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) ComSuper's standard for the receipt and processing of superannuation data is 10 business days from the relevant payday. For payday 6 December 2001 (the payday used by ANAO in its report to illustrate the examples of late receipt of data), Commonwealth agency data not received and processed within that standard was as follows:

(a) Received 1 business day outside the standard:

Family Court of Australia

(b) Received and processed 13-15 business days outside the standard:

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Australian Institute of Criminology

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency


Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation

National Archives of Australia

National Gallery of Australia

National Library of Australia

(c) Received and processed 16-26 business days outside the standard:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

(d) Received and processed 45-50 business days outside the standard:

Australian Protective Service - Payroll function returned to employer (previously sourced to Attorney-General's Department). Problems with handover not resolved until February 2002.

Department of Health and Ageing - Issues with superannuation reporting (following implementation of new pay system) not fully resolved until February 2002.

Although the ANAO report cited that 30% of employers failed to provide the data within the standard for payday 6 December 2001, it affected only 10% of member data. ComSuper records show that these agencies now consistently provide it timely data.

(2) The following Commonwealth agencies did not provide compliant data for over 12 months:

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia

Implemented new payroll system in July 1998, data not processed until July 1999

Australian Federal Police

Implemented new payroll system in July 1998, data not processed until July 1999

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Implemented new payroll system in July 1999, data not processed until August 2000

Department of the Treasury

Implemented new payroll system in July 1998, data not processed until August 1999

(3) (a) The Department of Family and Community Services was the only other agency identified with significant reporting issues of a similar nature, relating to new member reporting. Those issues were promptly solved by that agency, with all missing data subsequently supplied to ComSuper.

(b) Comments on the steps taken by the four agencies identified by the ANAO were provided by each agency in their responses to the draft report and are reproduced at paragraph 3.11 of the final report. Further comment is contained in answers to the Senator's questions (759-762) directed to Ministers responsible for each of the agencies concerned.

(4) The agency referred to by the ANAO was the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

(5) (a) Of the cases pending as at 30 June 2001, 19.7% related to instances where there was a problem with the member's record (80.3% related to incorrectly completed/incomplete benefit applications).

(b) As at 15 October 2002, 87 cases.

(c) As at 15 October 2002, 30.1% of total contributor benefit applications.

(d) During September 2002 (the last available figures) 12.6% of benefit applications were pending because of problems with the member's record.

(e) 13.3 days.

The Commissioner for Superannuation has advised that he is working with agencies to ensure ongoing improvements in the accuracy and timeliness of agency reporting of member data. I am advised that all recommendations made by the ANAO have either been implemented by ComSuper or are in hand.