Reports by the Auditor-General
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) conducted a number of performance audits in the department during 2007–08.
Audit Report No. 2 2007–08: Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)—follow-up audit
The objective of the audit was to examine the department‘s implementation of the nine recommendations made in an audit conducted in 1999. It also took into account changed circumstances since the original audit. These include a heightened security environment after 11 September 2001 and the results of other relevant ANAO performance audits and financial statement work.
The ANAO concluded that the department had implemented the recommendations from the 1999 audit report, while noting that some further work was required in relation to certain recommendations.
In their report, the ANAO made two recommendations. The first was that passenger processing performance measures be included in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the department and the Australian Customs Service. A new MOU was signed with Customs in June 2008 which includes performance measures.
The second recommendation was that the department undertakes a quality assurance program which tests the completeness and accuracy of the immigration data entered into the Movement Alert List (MAL). This recommendation has also been implemented.
The ANAO noted that in implementing the recommendations, the department had improved the administration of the ETA system which continues to be a robust and efficient platform. It is a key component of the department's layered approach to border management.
Audit Report No. 24 2007–08: DIAC's management of the introduction of biometric technologies
The objective of the audit was to determine whether the department‘s biometrics program had appropriate:
- business review processes (including a business case)
- business and IT governance arrangements
- IT project management and systems development arrangements.
Overall the ANAO considered that the department's introduction of biometric technologies is an important element of the Australian Government's priorities in relation to better verification of claimed identity and in the identification of those whose identity may be in doubt. The ANAO recognised that the department‘s introduction of biometrics has been challenging given the rapidly evolving nature of the technologies involved and the dynamic environment in which the technologies are being deployed. This includes major changes to the department's systems and evolving national and international approaches to the use and choice of biometrics.
The ANAO found that the department obtained a clear government mandate to research, trial and introduce biometric technologies and that accompanying legislation was put in place. The ANAO further found that the department's planning including its business case, was generally sound. The governance arrangements that were established were also deemed to be sound, as were the strong provisions aimed at protecting sensitive personal information.
The ANAO made four recommendations. The first proposed an evaluation and monitoring strategy to ensure that the intended benefits were being delivered by the chosen biometric approach. The second related to ensuring that the department's strategy maximised the potential for interoperability with overseas countries and national counterparts. The third recommended that the department obtain structured feedback from stakeholders and strengthen assurance processes around access and disclosure. The final recommendation proposed better requirements for management of IT projects.
The department agreed with all four recommendations and, in response, developed a recommendation implementation plan which has already seen progress relating to each of the recommendations. A biometrics projects requirements manager has been appointed and is currently conducting an evaluation, assessing the benefits to date, while also receiving structured feedback from decision makers and stakeholders.
Audits in progress
The following audits are currently in progress:
- Management of the Australian Government‘s Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons
- Management of the Movement Alert List
- Construction of the Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre
- Settlement Grants Program.
Other ANAO audit activity
The department participated in the following ANAO cross-agency audits during the year:
- Interim Phase of the Audit of Financial Statements of the General Government Sector Agencies for the year ending 30 June 2008
- Audits of Financial Statements of Australian Government Entities for the period ended 30 June 2007
- Non-APS workers
- Australian Government Agencies Management of their websites
- Protective Security Audit (security clearances and vetting).
Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit
The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit is required by the Public Accounts and Audit Act 1951 to examine all reports of the Auditor-General tabled in parliament. Its review procedures are built around a series of public hearings held each quarter. During 2007–08, none of the joint committee's reports related to the department's operations.