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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 4048


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance) (13:44): As I have indicated, the JCPAA made 10 recommendations, and they are to be found in report 441, released in May 2014. They are:

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends that the Department of Finance review all Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 guidance material to improve consistency in:

- the context provided

- document structure

- distinguishing between mandatory requirements and good practice terminology

The government agrees and has adopted this recommendation.

Recommendation 2

The Committee recommends that the following additional guiding principle be included as one of the guiding principles for the Public Management Reform Agenda:

- The financial framework, including the rules and supporting policy and guidance, should support the legitimate requirements of the Government and the Parliament in discharging their respective responsibilities.

The government agrees, and in fact the additional guiding principle has been adopted and will be reflected in future reforms—for example, a submission from the Department of Finance to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee inquiry, on 6 June 2014, into the amendments for the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 adopted this additional guiding principle, on page three.

Recommendation 3

The Committee recommends that the Department of Finance work to ensure that any necessary amendments are made to the Auditor-General’s Act 1997 such that the Australian National Audit Office has the power to audit the full planning, performance and accountability framework under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

The government agrees, and the PGPA amendment bill included a note to section 40 to put beyond doubt the continuing power of the Auditor-General to conduct a performance audit of a Commonwealth entity at any time.

Recommendation 4

The Committee does not recommend a change to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) at this time, to address the potential confusion from dual coverage with the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act).

Instead, the Committee recommends that the Department of Finance and the Australian Public Service Commission work together to draft the necessary amendments to the PGPA Act and/or the PS Act to remove overlaps and reduce potential confusion from dual coverage, and that amendment proposals be put to the Parliament.

The government agrees, and indeed Finance has worked collaboratively with the APSC and the Department of Parliamentary Services and has agreed to amendments to the PGPA Act, to the Public Service Act and to the Parliamentary Service Act 1999, to achieve greater alignment in the duties of officials and to reduce the potential for confusion.

Recommendation 5

The Committee recommends that the Department of Finance (Finance) amend the draft guidance to s17 and s28 of the draft Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 to emphasise that nothing in the draft rule precludes the chair, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of a Commonwealth body from attending audit committee meetings as an observer. Finance should also widely communicate this point.

The government agrees. Finance has amended the guidance for audit committees accordingly.

Recommendation 6

The Committee recommends that draft rule s18 (Approving commitments of relevant money) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 be amended to explicitly place an obligation on all individual officials to consider proper use and management of public resources before approving commitments of relevant money.

The government agrees.

Recommendation 7

The Committee recommends that the issue of commitments of relevant money, and the appropriateness of spending limits and associated documentation requirements set by accountable authorities, be included by the Department of Finance in the first independent review of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

The government agrees, and the PGPA Act requires the Minister for Finance, in consultation with the JCPAA, to undertake an independent review of the operation of the act and the rules—that is, section 112. The substance of this JCPAA recommendation will be considered as part of that review.

Recommendation 8

The Committee recommends that the draft guidance material supporting s18 (Approving commitments of relevant money) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 be amended to include discussion of the reasonable use of, and the risks involved in, officials approving aggregate expenditure proposals.

The government agrees, and Finance has indeed amended the resource management guidance.

Recommendation 9

The Committee recommends that the Department of Finance continue its consultation process with stakeholders on the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 rules development for the post July 2014 rules and the broader Public Management Reform Agenda, based on the comprehensive consultation approach taken to date.

The government agrees, and Finance intends to continue its consultation process with stakeholders post July 2014.

Recommendation 10

The Committee recommends that the Department of Finance prepare and communicate a plan clearly outlining the anticipated dates for development and consultation of all future rules and guidance materials under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, and the broader Public Management Reform Agenda.

The government agrees. Finance intends to communicate the plan for other areas of the public management reform agenda, and also consult on rules and guidance.

In the interests of completeness, in relation to recommendation 6, the government agrees with the intent of that recommendation but we are still working our way through on how best to give effect to it in practice and in detail.