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Auditor hesitant about reporting on $122m contract

Auditor hesitant about reporting on $122m contract

The auditor hints at significant reservations about the appropriateness of the ACT Policing annual report, and on how expenditure of about $122m is accounted for. As well, the report contains some hard-to-reconcile figures. The ACT Legislative Assembly needs to take a fresh and close look at the policing contract.

Are ACT police figures fudged?  Auditor gives strong hints

 ACT Policing spends $122m of the ACT’s annual budget…but the auditor qualifies the accounts heavily, saying that the only the Chief Police Officer and the Police Minister – and no-one outside of them– should rely on his audit findings.

As happens every year, the Australian National Audit Office gives a strong hint in auditing the 2007-8 accounts that the accounting policies are inappropriate.

The problem is that the police figures are merely ‘based on’ figures and on statistics agreed to be in the ‘Purchasing Agreement’ which in no way properly account for $122m of government expenditure. The Agreement with the Australian Federal Police has never been subjected to a competitive tender, or to a public scrutiny process.

It is time that the ACT Legislative Assembly tackled the ACT Labor Government: the police contract lacks the quality governance required for such a major item of expenditure in such a sensitive area of public service.

Outside the financial figures, the performance targets are a nonsense. The targets are wrong to start with for such a small jurisdiction; they are measured to a large extent by a telephone survey which may not be appropriate; and when it suits ACT Policing, they declare it is a ‘base year’ – so they start the process of establishing benchmarks again, negating the value of the statistics of previous years and making proper comparisons impossible.

The 2007-8 annual report shows police cleared up more murders than were committed during the year…but they appear to have misplaced 62 officers.

Positives  in operational policing included improved response times,  better clearance rates on some types of crimes; and improved community interaction.

But ACT’s police continue to be the least experienced in the country: in fact, Canberra is used as a training ground for new AFP recruits…which suggests that the contract amount should be heavily discounted for the benefits it provides to the federal agency.

The CLA assessment of the ACT Policing Annual Report 2007-08 is available here.

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