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Audits in progress
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Audits in progress

Last updated: 12 December 2014

Additional School Costs for Families
Applying the high value high risk process to unsolicited proposals
Digital Dashboard: Status Review of ICT Projects and Initiatives
Delivering Services to Citizens and Consumers via Devices of Personal Choice
Early Intervention Services for Vulnerable Children and Families
Education Transitions
Effectiveness of Support for Local Government
Efficiency of Purchasing and Using High-Value Equipment
Emergency Service Response Times
Managing Regulator Performance in the Health Portfolio
Occupational Violence
Operational Effectiveness of the myki Ticketing System
Palliative Care
Realising the Benefits of Smart Meters
Responses to 2012–13 Performance Audit Recommendations
Tendering of Metropolitan Bus Contracts
Victoria’s Consumer Protection Framework for Building Construction

 

Additional School Costs for Families

In Victoria, education is compulsory for children aged 6–17 years. Through primary and secondary schools, the government provides free instruction in the standard curriculum program—the arts, English, health and physical education, languages other than English, mathematics, science, studies of society and environment, and technology.

In addition to Commonwealth and state government funding, government schools may charge parents fees for goods and services associated with the delivery of free instruction and optional extras, and may also ask for voluntary donations. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) is responsible for administering a parent payment policy, which outlines the types of payments schools may request. Each school is responsible for determining the amount parents are charged.

There is increasing community concern about the extent to which education costs are being borne by families and the potential impact this may have on the educational experience of those unable to afford such costs. There is a need to ascertain whether parent charges are reasonable, fair and consistent with government and school policies.

The audit will assess whether DEECD and government schools are managing parent education costs economically, efficiently and effectively and in accordance with legislation and policies. To assess the objective, the audit will examine:

The report is expected to be tabled in February 2015.

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Effectiveness of Support for Local Government

Councils provide a significant social and economic contribution to their communities across Australia. In Victoria, Local Government Victoria (LGV) and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) provide important support to the 79 councils to both assist them to carry out their duties and obligations and facilitate more efficient and effective council operations. Such support activities may include the provision of advice, advocacy, guidance and services such as training.

Previous performance audits in the local government sector have highlighted a need for improvement in key areas of council administration. With the significant social and economic contribution councils make to their communities, it is important to assess how effectively and efficiently the support to councils is delivered to achieve intended outcomes and to determine whether value for money is being achieved.

The report is expected to be tabled in February 2015.

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Responses to 2012–13 Performance Audit Recommendations

Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) performance audits include recommendations to address deficiencies identified by audit and improve the management and delivery of public services. Audited agencies are asked to respond to recommendations and state whether they accept them and how they will respond. Agencies are then required to monitor audit recommendations and enact planned responses under Standing Direction 2.6 (f) of the Financial Management Act 1994.

The objective of this audit is to determine the extent of agency response to, and monitoring of, VAGO performance audit recommendations. The audit will examine whether:

The report is expected to be tabled in February 2015.

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Efficiency of Purchasing and Using High-Value Equipment

Given rising healthcare costs and a growing and ageing population in Victoria, it is critical that the state’s public hospitals are maximising the use of high-cost, high-value equipment for the benefit of patients.

This audit will assess the economy and efficiency of managing high-value imaging equipment in public hospitals with a particular focus on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scanners. This equipment is found in most large hospitals and in addition to its diagnostic value consumes a substantial proportion of a hospital’s equipment expenditure through high replacement and maintenance costs.

The audit will also assess the roles of the Department of Health, as manager of the health system, and Health Purchasing Victoria, which has a mandate to improve hospitals’ collective purchasing power.

The audit is expected to be tabled in February 2015.

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Education Transitions

Within the education system there are a number of key transitions that shape a young person's learning and development. Transitions occur when young people move from grade to grade within school and when they move into and between schools. There are two major transition periods that children and young people undergo while in the schooling system: when moving from kindergarten to primary school, and then from primary to secondary school.

Effective transitions require education providers to plan and coordinate their support for students. Developing pathways to support the ongoing engagement of children with education is central to DEECD's current strategic plan.

The objective of the audit is to examine how effectively kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools (education providers) and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development are supporting the transitions of children in the education system.

The audit is expected to be tabled in March 2015.

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Emergency Service Response Times

Emergency service organisations in Victoria include Ambulance Victoria, the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board, the Country Fire Authority, the Victoria State Emergency Service and Victoria Police. The speed of response of these agencies to an emergency can significantly effect the outcome for those involved. A delayed response can lead to life-changing health, welfare and economic outcomes that may otherwise have been avoided. There is therefore strong public interest in the responsiveness of Victoria’s emergency services. Emergency response time information can be valuable in directing agencies to potential areas for improvement, providing the public with confidence in emergency services, and informing government of performance to guide resourcing and other decisions. Where such performance information is used, the relevance and reliability of the measures, underpinning data and reporting is critical.

The audit objective is to determine the extent to which emergency service agencies and relevant portfolio departments are accountable for emergency response time performance. To assess this objective, the audit will examine whether agencies:

The report is due for tabling in March 2015.

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Managing Regulator Performance in the Health Portfolio

Past performance audits identified significant issues with the performance of several regulators. Ineffective regulatory practices have the potential to reduce business innovation, productivity, competition, job creation and economic growth. The government has clear policy goals of reducing red tape and reducing the burden regulators impose on businesses, while improving their effectiveness and reducing their cost base through more efficient operations.

This audit will assess the progress towards achieving government’s goals of improving regulator effectiveness and efficiency and reducing the red tape they impose on those they regulate. It will examine whether selected regulators within the health portfolio have used available resources to efficiently achieve intended outcomes while reducing the red tape they impose on regulated businesses and occupations. It will also assess whether the Department of Health has effectively overseen the regulators in their portfolio and supported them in addressing Government’s policy goals. In addition it will examine whether the Department of Treasury and Finance has adequately acquitted its responsibilities in relation to supporting the Statement of Expectations process and coordinating and reporting on whole-of-Government regulatory reform.

This audit is expected to table in March 2015.

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Digital Dashboard: Status Review of ICT Projects and Initiatives

The Victorian public sector does not have a good track record with ICT projects. A number of VAGO performance audits and Ombudsman reports over the last decade have shown significant weaknesses in the planning and implementation of ICT projects, which often incur substantial delays and cost overruns.

An increasing reliance by government on ICT to manage and deliver programs and services, as well as an increasing demand by users for services to be provided on-line, means that the current poor performance of ICT projects needs closer and continuous monitoring to focus effort on the most productive investments, as well as identify challenging projects well before they become major problems.

In addition to examining performance, this audit will focus on identifying the quantum of spending on ICT investments across the Victorian public sector.

The transparency outcome of this audit will potentially make it harder for underperforming projects to go unnoticed, and easier for the government to focus rectification effort on the projects where it is most needed.

The scope and methodology for this audit has not been previously undertaken by VAGO. This audit is intended as a continuous review project with a series of reports to be tabled in Parliament within up to three financial years.

The first of these reports is expected to be tabled in April 2015.

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Palliative Care

Research indicates that while most people with a life-threatening illness would prefer to die at home, or in a home-like environment, only a minority achieve this wish, with most people still spending their last days in acute hospital settings. This situation not only ignores the wishes of people at the end of their life, but also places a significant burden on acute health services.

The audit will examine specialist palliative care services available to admitted patients in Victorian public health services, and specialist palliative care services to non-admitted patients where offered by Victorian public health services. The audit objective is to determine whether Victorians with a terminal illness have access to high-quality palliative care that is timely, coordinated and responsive to their needs and wishes.

The report is expected to be tabled in April 2015.

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Victoria’s Consumer Protection Framework for Building Construction

Domestic building activity in Victoria generates significant employment and economic activity. Between 1 July 2013 to the end of May 2014, over 76 000 permits were issued for domestic building works with an estimated value of more than $11.5 billion. For individual consumers the construction or renovation of a house is often the single largest investment in their lifetime.

The current domestic building consumer protection framework involves a range of agencies with functions extending from registration and monitoring of building practitioners, to dispute handling and the provision of domestic building insurance. While consumers fund the framework, past VAGO audits, including the 2011 Compliance with Building Permits, and a series of other reviews and inquiries together with ongoing issues raised by consumers, have highlighted areas where it is failing to meet their needs.

The audit will assess whether key elements of the current domestic building consumer protection framework are effectively managed by relevant entities, including examining whether the Victorian Building Authority, Building Practitioners Board and Consumer Affairs Victoria are performing their existing functions effectively and have adequately addressed recommendations from previous audits. It will also assess whether the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority's provision of domestic building insurance is effectively and economically managed.

The report is scheduled to be tabled in April 2015.

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Early Intervention Services for Vulnerable Children and Families

Early intervention services target vulnerable children and families. Children and young people are vulnerable when the capacity of their parents and families to effectively care, protect and provide for their long-term development and wellbeing is limited.

Vulnerable families may show risk factors for child abuse and neglect, such as family violence, alcohol and substance abuse, mental health problems, and poverty. If not addressed, these factors could ultimately lead to the child and their family becoming involved in the child protection system.

This audit focuses on early intervention services for vulnerable children and families who are at risk of requiring child protection. In particular, the audit will focus on Child FIRST and Integrated Family Services, which are funded by the Department of Human Services. Child FIRST is an information and referral service that links vulnerable families with appropriate family or other services. In 2013–14, around 12,200 vulnerable families were referred to Child FIRST.

The audit will examine whether these services are readily accessible to, and effective in improving outcomes for, vulnerable families.

The report is expected to be tabled in April 2015.

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Delivering Services to Citizens and Consumers via Devices of Personal Choice

There are now more than 12 million smartphones in use in Australia. During 2014, internet usage by such devices is expected to overtake desktop internet usage.

The delivery of government services by digital channels can increase efficiency, cut lengthy wait times at traditional 'bricks and mortar' locations, and cut the costs associated with traditional service delivery approaches.

This audit will examine government efforts to allow key transactions to be performed online and using digital devices, including whether these services are effective and efficient when compared to traditional service delivery modes.

The report is expected to be tabled in May 2015.

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Tendering of Metropolitan Bus Contracts

Buses are a significant form of public transport, providing cross-town transport, local services and linkages to the rail network. Bus patronage figures are starting to increase after several years of stagnationan estimated 127.6 million passengers travelled on Melbourne’s metropolitan bus network in the 2013–14 financial year, up from 115.7 million in the previous year. For people in Melbourne’s middle and outer suburbs, buses are often the only readily accessible public transport available.

There are two distinct sets of arrangements for the provision of bus services in metropolitan Melbourne:

The audit objective is to examine whether the state has effectively secured value for money from the new Melbourne metropolitan bus service franchising arrangements by assessing whether:

The report is expected to be tabled in May 2015.

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Applying the High Value High Risk Process to Unsolicited Proposals (formely High Value High Risk)

The high value high risk (HVHR) review process aims to address time and budget overruns and the extent of benefit from the delivery of major infrastructure projects. The process applies to all projects over $100 million, assessed as high risk, or determined by government as warranting additional oversight. Given the significance of these projects, VAGO is undertaking annual HVHR audits examining how effectively the process is improving outcomes for a range of projects and review action against past HVHR audit recommendations.

VAGO's first audit of the HVHR process tabled in Parliament in June 2014. It found that the Department of Treasury and Finance's (DTF) increased scrutiny of projects through HVHR had made a difference to the quality of the business cases and procurements underpinning government's investments. It made eight recommendations about how DTF should improve the application of HVHR projects, including that it apply HVHR to projects over $100 million selected under the unsolicited proposals policy. An unsolicited proposal is one where the private sector approaches government with a proposal to build infrastructure or deliver services. These proposals are not always subject to competition, and therefore thorough scrutiny of such proposals is critical to ensure value for money.

The objective of the audit is to determine whether the HVHR process has been effectively applied to two unsolicited proposals that government has identified as HVHR projects: the Cranbourne-Pakenham Rail Corridor and the CityLink Tulla Widening projects.

This audit is expected to be tabled in May 2015.

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Occupational Violence

Violence and aggression against healthcare workers has serious social, health and economic consequences, not only for those immediately involved but for the health sector more generally. Perpetrators of in-hospital occupational violence and aggression are mainly patients, relatives or visitors, although co-workers can also be a source.

Various reviews and inquiries—the Victorian Taskforce on Violence in Nursing (2005); the 2011 Parliamentary Inquiry into Violence and Security Arrangements in Victorian Hospitals and, in particular, emergency departments; and VAGO’s 2013 report on Occupational Health and Safety Risk in Public Hospitals—have all highlighted significant systemic issues in the Victorian health system and have made recommendations to address these. New challenges in the external environment have also emerged—such as the increased abuse of drugs that has been linked to aggressive behaviour and drug-induced psychosis.

The objective of the audit is to assess whether agencies are fulfilling their occupational health and safety responsibilities to protect and support healthcare workers in regards to occupational violence. The audit aims to:

The report is expected to be tabled in May 2015.

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Operational Effectiveness of the myki Ticketing System

An effective ticketing system is essential for encouraging use of the public transport system. Modern public transport ticketing systems are much more than fare collection tools. They provide the key interface with customers and, with smartcard technology, they can also be a useful strategic tool for facilitating a range of government transport policies. A well designed and implemented system should be easy for commuters to use and benefit transport operators through streamlined fare collection and access to important data on travel behaviour.

The state committed to implementation of the myki system in July 2005 when it signed the contract for the system, and the myki system was due to be operational by July 2007. However, there were delays, scope changes and cost increases in implementing the system. In December 2012, myki became the only form of ticket valid on Melbourne public transport with the switching-off of the previous ticketing system, Metcard. As of 2014, more than 5.7 million myki cards have been issued with the system processing around 6 million touch-on transactions per week. Since implementation, myki has experienced a number of issues including slow card reader response times and the instability of devices, in particular on trams and buses.

The significant investment in the myki system, together with the additional costs and time required for its development, and implementation and its initial operational issues, warrant an assessment of its operational effectiveness.

The objective of the audit is to examine the operational effectiveness of the myki ticketing system and whether it is achieving expected benefits.

The report is expected to be tabled in June 2015.

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Realising the Benefits of Smart Meters

In early 2006 the Victorian Government approved the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) program that aimed to replace electrical metering infrastructure in all Victorian residential and small business premises' with digital meters known as smart meters.

VAGO’s 2009 report Towards a ‘Smart Grid’—the rollout of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure found that there was a risk of an inequitable transfer of economic benefits to industry, rather than consumers. Following this and other government reviews of the smart meter program, major changes were made to the program to ensure consumers receive the benefits and to continue with an improved rollout, which made delivery of consumer benefits the top priority.

Between 2009 to 2014, Victoria’s electricity distribution businesses have installed roughly 2.8 million smart meters at an estimated cost of $2 billion. As the smart meter rollout is effectively complete, it is timely to undertake the audit to assess the extent to which deficiencies in the AMI program have been addressed, and whether benefits for consumers are being realised.

The audit will assess whether the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation:

The report is expected to be tabled in June 2015.

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