Walking the Talk

A number of years ago, McLeod Governance had the pleasure of being in the audience at a speech by one of Australia’s most esteemed jurists.

The jurist had been tasked with investigating a major equine related matter and report back to the Government about recommendations as to improvements.

At the end of the presentation, an audience member asked the jurist as to whether the Government had implemented any of his recommendations. His response surprised many in the room when he said that he did not know – and it wasnt his responsibility to track – the recommendations.

That story is a neat introduction to this week’s Report of the Week.

The Auditor General of the Australian state of New South Wales has just released a report examining how audit issues are followed up.

As an overall conclusion the report noted:

We found that most agencies have sound processes in place to implement and monitor performance audit recommendations.

However it noted that the coordination and review of proposed actions could be strengthened:

We found two areas where agencies could refine their practices. The first is nominating a unit or person to coordinate implementation. While some agencies did this, it was not common practice. We believe that better coordination may lead to more timely and focused actions.

And

We found agencies generally do not have formal processes for revisiting proposed actions during implementation to determine whether they remain appropriate. Establishing a mechanism for regular review would ensure a more rigorous response and that better information is available when recommendations are followed up.

An observation close to our heart about the need for more public reporting of implementation goes to the issue of transparency of effort:

Another area agencies can strengthen is public reporting of implementation. While some agencies referred to particular initiatives in their annual reports that were put in place as a result of performance audits, agencies do not typically report on implementation.

Public reporting is an opportunity for agencies to highlight achievements and provide transparency to stakeholders.

Putting in place mechanisms for effective follow up is not rocket science – but done well it can ensure that those that say that they are going to correct a control deficiency are held accountable for doing so.

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