The Government welcomes the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audit into the Department of Human Services (DHS) fraud prevention and compliance measures. The Department will implement the recommendations to improve the accounting and reporting of them.
The Government’s fraud and compliance activities comprise of two components: the ongoing yearly activities (the ‘business as usual’ activities) and ten specific budget measures.
The ANAO audited seven of the ten specific budget measures, most of which go back to Labor’s time in government.
Across all fraud and compliance activities, the Commonwealth realised $3.9 billion in savings since 2012, with the ten measures delivering savings of $1.44 billion against a target of $1.07 billion, exceeding the target by 35%.
However, in its audit, the ANAO used a different accounting methodology which resulted in savings being allocated to different categories compared to DHS’ approach. On the basis of its accounting methodology, the ANAO concluded that some of the seven audited compliance activities did not meet all their targets.
Specifically, the two Coalition Government initiatives that were audited were both found to be effective and have predominantly met their targets, including the automation of employment income data matching.
The ANAO report does not comment on how compliance savings has grown since 2012-13 or that the ten measures combined have exceeded their target.
The report made three recommendations to improve the calculation, estimation and assessment of compliance budget measures. DHS has agreed to one recommendation, partly agreed to a second and noted that it is already undertaking the third.
This report assesses administrative processes, and the Government welcomes this input. At the same time the Government will remain focused on outcomes for Australians, and by this measure, the relevant targets have been exceeded.
The Government’s fraud and compliance work is essential to ensuring there is integrity in the welfare system. We will continue this important work and recoup any savings for the taxpayer.