Some government agencies are not complying with accountability requirements in terms of meeting time requirements for the tabling of annual reports in Parliament.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council Rob Lucas said today the Statutory Authorities Review Committee (SARC) should again investigate this issue and report on the accountability of agencies to the public by prompt reporting through their annual reports. Up until 2001/02, the SARC used to report annually on the timelines of annual reporting by agencies.
“Some agencies still have not tabled annual reports for the 2005/06 financial year and a number of agencies have tabled reports up to 15 months after the end of a financial year,” Mr Lucas said.
“For example, an analysis of 2004/05 and 2005/06 reports shows that the Legal Services Commission did not table its 2004/05 report until September 2006 – 15 months after the end of the year! Similarly, the Public Trustee, Public Advocate, Medical Board, Dental Board and the Local Government Grants Commission all tabled their 2004/05 reports about 12 months after the end of the financial year.
Mr Lucas said the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has only just tabled its 2005/06 report – 12 months after the end of the financial year!
“Whilst some agencies are governed by their own legislation, most agencies are governed by the Public Sector Management Act which requires reports to be forwarded to Ministers within three months of the end of the financial year and then the Minister tabling the report within 12 sitting days in the Parliament,” he said.
“However, at present there is no central mechanism for ensuring agencies are meeting their reporting requirements.
“Delays in presenting annual reports are unacceptable and reduce accountability of agencies and Ministers. If agencies can delay their reports for up to 12 months, by the time some information is public it may well be out of date and the capacity to hold agencies or Ministers to account for problems may have been limited.
“The Rann Government should also consider amending legislation wherever required – to ensure timelier reporting by all agencies. For example, agencies like the PCA which currently only has to report ‘as soon as possible’ after the end of the year, should be given a strict time within which it must report.”