Better Practice Guides
Better Practice Guides (BPGs) aim to improve public administration by providing a mechanism whereby better practices employed in organisations are recognised and promulgated to all Australian Government entities. This can involve examining practices in the public or private sectors, in Australia or overseas. Our emphasis is to identify, assess and articulate good practice from our knowledge and understanding of the public sector as well as areas where improvements are warranted.
Depending on the subject and nature of information collected during an audit, BPGs may be produced in conjunction with an audit or prepared as a result of a perceived need to provide guidance material in a particular area of public administration.
Implementing Better Practice Grants Administration
Friday 6th December 2013
Grants administration is an important activity for many Commonwealth entities, involving the payment of billions of public funds each year. In the light of the significant outlay of public funds and the issues arising from our audit coverage, since 1994 the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has published a Better Practice Guide on the administration of grants to encourage better administrative outcomes.
This latest version has been prepared in an environment of the revised legislative and policy framework for grants administration which came into effect on 1 June 2013. The focus of this new framework remains on the establishment of transparent and accountable decision making processes for the awarding of grants, but also includes a renewed focus on risk management and the achievement of outcomes. It includes a number of mandatory requirements, as well as outlining, in the Commonwealth Grant Guidelines (CGGs), various better practice principles.
Human Resource Management Information Systems: Risks and Controls
Thursday 20th June 2013
Over the last decade, Australian Government agencies have significantly increased the collection, storage and analysis of human resources data related to their workforce. With functionality now provided by Human Resource Management Information Systems (HRMIS), greater use is being made of automated electronic processes. While there are many efficiencies gained through the use of automated systems, establishing and monitoring internal controls over HR functions are important management considerations—especially if agencies are to provide an assurance over the reliability of their HR information, compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and to effectively and efficiently support business operations.
However, the implementation of HRMIS to support the management of human resources—and the integration of HRMIS with enterprise IT systems—can introduce a range of information management risks. With this in mind, this Guide:
- provides an overview of significant risks and controls that are relevant to key HR functions, with particular focus within each chapter on managing risks through implementation of better practice principles;
- outlines the important role of both system and manual controls in maintaining the integrity and confidentiality of HR information; and
- provides better practice examples for implementing controls for the PeopleSoft, SAP and Aurion HRMIS, which are systems commonly used by Australian Government agencies.
The Guide aims to assist HR system managers and practitioners to:
- implement better practices to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of HR and payroll processes, especially from a security and privacy perspective;
- strengthen system controls and appropriately manage and segregate user access to key system functions; and
- increase awareness of system and manual controls within the PeopleSoft, SAP and Aurion HRMIS used by Australian Government agencies.
The implementation of controls should have due regard to benefits for the agency—equally, reducing controls for cost-saving reasons should be carefully managed as the operating risk profile may be increased. As with all Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) Better Practice Guides, it is important for agencies to individually assess the importance and relevance of practices described in this Guide. This Guide replaces the Guide published in March 2011. The content of the Guide has been refreshed and new sections have been added to reflect the recommended controls—by each of the three HRMIS—to mitigate the risks to key HR functions.
Preparation of Financial Statements by Public Sector Entities
Wednesday 19th June 2013
Financial statements are an important means of demonstrating how the public sector, both at individual entity and whole-of-government levels, meets its financial management responsibilities.
Effective financial management is critical to public sector entities being able to meet their policy and service delivery responsibilities. An important aspect of financial management and stewardship, and the primary mechanism by which entities meet their financial accountability obligations, is the preparation and publication of annual audited financial statements in entities’ annual reports.
The guide includes a toolkit which provides examples, checklists and proforma of various documentation that is typically generated as part of the preparation of the financial statements.
Public Sector Internal Audit
Friday 28th September 2012This Guide replaces the Guide issued by the ANAO in 2007. While many of the principles remain the same, the role of internal audit has continued to evolve over time. Internal audit and Audit Committees both play important roles in the good governance of public sector agencies. Accordingly, this guide complements the ANAO’s Better Practice Guide—Public Sector Audit Committees issued in September 2011. The Guide, which has a public sector orientation, is intended to be a reference document for chief Executives, Boards, members of Audit Committees, managers with responsibility for internal audit activities, and internal audit staff. As with all ANAO Better Practice Guides, each entity is encouraged to use the Guide to identify, and apply, better practice principles and practices that are tailored to its particular circumstances
Public Sector Environmental Management
Friday 27th April 2012
This Guide aims to assist Australian Government public sector entities to:
- improve environmental management practices and reduce the environmental impacts of their operations;
- foster greater efficiencies and operational cost savings; and
- meet legislative, regulatory and policy requirements.
The Guide provides executives with a set of fundamental principles to assist them in establishing and maintaining an integrated strategy for environmental management within their organisations. Practical implementation advice, case studies and checklists have also been included to assist environmental managers to meet monitoring and reporting requirements and to introduce improved practices.
The Guide has been developed within the context of the Australian public sector’s environmental management framework, which includes the legislative, regulatory and policy requirements that currently apply to public sector entities under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. Key elements of this framework focus on operational areas, such as energy and water consumption, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) use, waste generation, travel and property management.
Limited hardcopies are available and can be requested by contacting the ANAO Publications Manager at email@example.com. The publication was printed on 100% post consumer recycled fibre, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Developing and Managing Contracts
Wednesday 29th February 2012
Contracting is an integral part of the way the Australian Government conducts business. The Australian Government is a significant purchaser of goods and services, and each year the public sector enters into a large variety of contracts worth billions of dollars.
The Guide updates and replaces the 2007 version and reflects continued interest in and the need for guidance in this area. The revised Guide updates references to legislation and policy and includes an expanded section on panel procurement arrangements.
The Guide seeks to support effective development and management of contracts for public sector entities operating under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. As with all of the ANAO’s Better Practice Guides, each entity is encouraged to use the Guide to identify, and apply, better practice principles and practices that are relevant to its particular circumstances and the complexity of its contracting activities.
The Guide is intended to be a general reference document for senior managers, contract managers and stakeholders who are involved in the development and management of contracts. It identifies the key issues and considerations that entities should be aware of when developing and managing contracts. A number of contract management checklists and similar aids are also included throughout the Guide, which can be tailored to the particular circumstances of each entity.
Public Sector Audit Committees
Wednesday 31st August 2011
Audit Committees have an important role in the governance framework of entities by providing an independent source of assurance and advice to Chief Executives/Boards. A distinguishing feature of an Audit Committee within an entity’s governance framework is its independence and objectivity, as Audit Committees do not undertake management responsibilities and are not a substitute for entity management controls and accountabilities.
The aim of the Guide is to provide guidance on the operation of the Audit Committees of public sector entities operating under both the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. The Guide updates and replaces the Australian National Audit Office’s (ANAO) 2005 Public Sector Audit Committees Better Practice Guide.
The Guide is intended as a reference document for Chief Executives, Boards, members of Audit Committees and senior managers with responsibility for Audit Committee activities, and complements the ANAO’s Better Practice Guide Public Sector Internal Audit issued in September 2007.
The ANAO has also supplied a number of checklists and templates which supplement this better practice guide. These can be used and modified to suit individual circumstances. They are contained in the zip file which is attached below.
In July 2012, the following correction was made to the online version published on 31 August 2011: page 18 of the PDF document, last paragraph; and section 3.2 of the HTML document, second last paragraph: amended to read 'In CAC entities that are governed by a Board, the Chair of the committee may be a non-executive director (other than the Chair of the entity) or an external appointee of the entity' to reflect the CAC Regulations Audit Committees for Commonwealth Authorities.
Human Resource Information Systems
Monday 4th April 2011
The Better Practice Guide provides an overview of significant risks and controls that are relevant to key human resource (HR) functions, with particular focus within each chapter on managing risks through implementation of better practice principles.
The Guide identifies better practice system controls, and describes manual or process controls that are relevant to support or strengthen the implementation of system controls.
The Guide discusses risks and controls associated with the design, implementation and maintenance of the Human Resource Information System and will be useful to assist HR system managers and practitioners to implement better practices to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of HR and payroll processes; strengthen system controls and appropriately manage and segregate user access to key system functions and increase awareness of system controls within the Peoplesoft and SAP HR systems that are used by a large number of Australian Government entities.
Fraud Control in Australian Government Entities
Monday 28th March 2011
Fraud continues to be an ever-present threat to the Australian community, posing significant challenges to organisations in its prevention and detection. Government programs are not immune from these threats. The Better Practice Guide (which updates the 2004 version) reflects the changing fraud risk landscape and explains measures entities can take in establishing an effective fraud control environment.
The release of the Better Practice Guide coincides with the issue of an updated version of the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines by the Minister for Home Affairs. These new Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines establish the fraud control policy framework within which entities determine their own specific practices, plans and procedures to manage the prevention and detection of fraudulent activities. The Better Practice Guide was prepared in consultation with the Attorney-General's Department and complements the revised Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines.
While the Better Practice Guide is an important tool for senior management and those who have direct responsibilities for fraud control, elements of this Better Practice Guide will be useful to a wider audience, including employees, contractors and service providers and others with an interest in sound public administration.
The Better Practice Guide:
- outlines the essential conditions for fraud control;
- provides particular assistance relating to each stage in the program life cycle;
- includes case studies and practical examples; and
- contains a chapter devoted to guidance on combating the emerging problem of identity fraud.
A quick reference guide which is included in the printed version of the guide can be dowloaded HERE.
Strategic and Operational Management of Assets by Public Sector Entities
Monday 13th September 2010Asset management is an essential component of good governance in both the public and private sectors, and should be aligned to, and integrated with, an entity's strategic, corporate and financial planning.
For entities which manage large asset holdings, a well-structured, practical asset management framework can assist in providing clarity for stakeholders as to the linkages between asset levels and the outcomes expected of the entity, and thus aid decisions on asset management. Entities with smaller asset holdings will also benefit from understanding how they can better align these resources with expected outcomes. The main message is to ensure entities have a disciplined approach to match their investment in assets to program requirements, and to plan for asset replacement in a strategic way which accords with the Government's capital budgeting framework where applicable.
The aim of this Guide is to provide an update to the previous publication Better Practice Guide on Asset Management June 1996 and to provide a practical asset management framework that can be adopted by Australian Government entities to assist in the effective management, maintenance, and use of assets to achieve their goals and agreed program delivery outcomes.
In particular, the Guide draws together and illustrates the practical application and essential inter-dependencies of a strategic asset management framework–being asset management, planning and the strategic goals of an entity.
The concept of asset performance indicators is introduced to guide entities on how to establish the condition of major assets, and the necessary level and frequency of maintenance. These indicators represent the parameters required for optimum efficiency and management of an entity's asset portfolio.
For entities whose asset base is critical to program delivery, a Capital Management Plan is a key component of their strategic outlook that provides a snapshot of asset health and documents how to achieve better practice asset management. Such a document provides a clear blueprint, approved by the executive leadership group, to drive strategic asset management throughout the organisation.