Auditor-General and Ombudsman reports

Auditor-General reports

Implementation status of ACT Auditor-General Report on the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate Interim Audit Management Report for the Year Ended 30 June 2013
Recommendation Response Implementation status/outcome
The Directorate should:
  • Develop an Information Technology Strategic Plan and have the plan approved
  • Review and update the
    plan on a regular basis
    (e.g. annually).
Agreed. The Directorate is in the final stages of developing a comprehensive Strategic ICT Plan for the next five years. The model for the plan is one that is being progressively implemented in other ACT Directorates. The plan is being developed through internal consultation with business system owners and is being facilitated by Shared Services ICT. The implementation of the plan will be governed by the Information Management ICT Committee. This plan will replace an interim version that was created when the Directorate was first formed. All critical business systems are fully supported under a Shared Partnership Agreement between the Directorate and Shared Services ICT. In progress. Four major workshops across the Directorate, from Executive level through managers and other key stakeholders, followed by section meetings to determine key business applications have now been completed. A draft ICT Strategic Plan is being developed on the basis of these workshops to enable prioritisation of ICT support and development needs across the Directorate.
The Directorate should ensure that:
  • The dates additional risk mitigation strategies will be implemented or reviewed are identified in risk registers
  • Business unit risk registers are up to date and consistent with the Directorate’s strategic risk register
  • Risk registers are updated and completed for all business units, and reviewed on a regular basis (i.e. annually or more frequently if risks have changed)
Agreed. To make the Directorate’s approach to the timely implementation and review of identified risks clearer, the Directorate proposes to amend the Risk Management Framework to ensure there is a monitoring process that includes details about frequency requirements and/or implementation and review dates. (ii)-(iii) Agreed. The Executive has approved implementation of a more robust Planning and Reporting Framework across the Directorate. In progress This recommendation is to be implemented as part of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Review of the Risk Management Framework.
Implementation status of ACT Auditor-General Report on the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate Final Audit Management Report for the Year ended 30 June 2013
Recommendation Response Implementation status/outcome
Appendix A – Previously Reported Audit Findings – Year Ended 30 June 2013 Usefulness of the Statement of Performance The Directorate should:
  • Comprehensively review the relevance, usefulness and appropriateness of all accountability indicators reported in its statement of performance.
  • Comprehensively review the adequacy of the information being included in its statement of performance to ensure that the information accompanying the reported results is sufficient to enable users of the statement of performance to understand the accountability indicator, the result being reported and, where appropriate, how it was measured or estimated; and
  • Ensure that each accountability indicator is supported by a clear and concise definition, target and an appropriate measurement method.
Agreed.

The Directorate will conduct a comprehensive review of its accountability indicators as part of the 2014–15 Budget process to ensure the areas identified by the Auditor-General’s Office are addressed.

Open.

Implementation status of the ACT Auditor-General’s Performance Audit Report –
Bushfire Preparedness (July 2013)
Recommendation Response Implementation status/outcome
Recommendation 14 (Chapter 4) -
Across-Government project management
(High Priority) The Emergency Services Agency, the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate and the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate should strengthen across-Government delivery of major projects in the Strategic Bushfire Management Plan and Regional Fire Management Plans by collectively:
  1. monitoring the effect of the 2011 amendments to Planning and Development Act 2007 and identifying additional changes, if appropriate
  2. improving information sharing
  3. finalising the pre-appraisal procedure
  4. holding an annual forward planning session for capital works
Agreed. The Directorate looks forward to continued collaboration with the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate and the Emergency Services Agency (ESA) to assist in the timely delivery of works supporting the Territory’s preparedness for bushfire. Open. Conservation Planning and Research and Strategic Planning sections are continuing to assist ESA with the review of the ACT Strategic Bushfire Management Plan (the Plan). Version No. 3
of the Plan is required to be launched in October 2014. Currently, Conservation Planning and Research is reviewing regional plans that form the basis of the Plan to ensure natural assets are appropriately protected as part of fuel management activities; providing environmental data sets; and assisting with community engagement. The Directorate is working collaboratively with ESA and TAMS in responding to the recommendation by the
Auditor-General.
Implementation status on the ACT Auditor-General’s Performance Audit Report – Single Dwelling Development Assessments May 2014
Recommendation Response Implementation status/outcome
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should modify its eDevelopment application form so that applicants indicate if their development has been assessed under the Development Application exemption process. Agreed. Action complete.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should improve its ability to meet statutory timeframes by not accepting the lodgement of a Development Application whose material is unsuitable for conducting an assessment. Agreed. Action complete.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should implement a process for assessing officers to communicate breaches of legislation to the Investigations Team for investigation. Agreed. In progress. Preparing a standard operating procedure and formal communication process for assessing officers.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should identify and promote ways to improve the training of certifiers, particularly when changes occur in planning legislation and building codes, as now allowed for under Section 104B(1) of the Construction Occupations (Licensing) Act 2004. Agreed. Action complete.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should require building surveyors and works assessors (certifiers) to submit a minimum level of documentation, such as a checklist, in relation to Development Application exemption assessments. Agreed. In progress. Legislative proposals have been developed.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should improve its publicly available information on certifiers and the Development Application exemption assessment process by:
  1. including on its website, information that explicitly defines the role and responsibilities of a certifier and states when a homeowner needs to engage a certifier
  2. Providing certifiers with standard information to be included on their websites defining the role of certifiers.
Agreed. In progress. An implementation plan is to be developed with a communications timetable.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should improve its auditing of Development Application exemption assessments by:
  1. continuing to develop and implement a system for targeting audits
  2. Including audits to determine if a certifier’s decision to assess a development as exempt is correct
Agreed. Action complete.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should assess the effectiveness of its new enforcement policy for managing complaints to determine if it has reduced the Directorate’s workload. The Minister should be consulted to determine whether complaints made to him should also be subjected to the enforcement policy. Agreed. In progress. The effectiveness of the policy has been assessed. A brief to the Minister will canvass how complaints sent to him direct should be handled..
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should develop an investigations monitoring system, which is guided by policies and procedures, and includes a regular review of the progress and results of investigations and complaints. Agreed. Action complete.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should review and report to the Minister on the merits of:
  1. increasing penalties for a certifier’s non-compliance with relevant Acts and codes; and
  2. publicly reporting the demerit points of certifiers
Agreed. a) Action complete. b) Issue to be canvassed in the discussion paper for the Building Act review.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should develop and implement a peer review quality control process for Development Application Merit Track assessments to help achieve correct decisions. Agreed. Action complete.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should improve the transparency of its decision-making, by requiring that assessing officers document their considerations against key mandatory rules that a single dwelling Development Application is assessed against. Agreed. In progress. The ‘key’ mandatory rules will be identified and the single dwelling assessment report template will be finalised.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should redesign their ‘Controlled Activity’ notification letter, which advises of a breach of the Planning and Development Act 2007, so that it is customer focused and acknowledges preceding events. Agreed. Action complete.
The Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate should include risks relating to improper influence as part of its current review of its Risk Management Plan, and develop a timetable to expedite implementation of this plan. Agreed. Action complete..

Ombudsman reports

The Directorate did not receive any reports from the Ombudsman during 2013–14.

During the year the Directorate entered into an agreement with the ACT Ombudsman to participate in the ‘Warm Transfer’ program. This program encourages an open relationship between the Ombudsman and the Directorate to assist in improving processes within the Directorate, resulting in a reduced number of complaints to the Ombudsman.

As part of the protocol the Ombudsman agrees to ‘warm transfer’ complainants to the Directorate, allowing the Directorate an opportunity to resolve the matter without the need for a formal complaint. The Directorate addressed three ‘warm transfers’ and resolved eleven formal complaints during the year.

As a result of informal recommendations from the Ombudsman the Directorate is implementing Customer Relationship Management Systems to better facilitate engagement with the community and reduce general and Ombudsman complaints.