The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of the Attorney-General’s Department’s design of the Data Retention Implementation Grants Program, including its performance monitoring, reporting, evaluation and assurance arrangements.
To form a conclusion against the audit objective, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) adopted the following high level criteria:
- Was an appropriate design process established to support the achievement of the Government’s objectives?
- Were sound performance monitoring, reporting, evaluation and assurance arrangements established?
The design of the Data Retention Industry Grants Program by the Attorney-General’s Department was not fully effective. While funding was provided to each eligible provider that applied, in aggregate the department has funded 79 per cent of provider costs, substantially above the 50 per cent level identified as reasonable when the decision was taken to establish the program, with some providers having all their costs paid for by the government.
Implementation of the program was not to an appropriate standard having regard to the risks involved and the policy outcomes being sought. In particular:
- conflicts of interest were not well managed;
- there were significant errors and delays in the development and signing of grant agreements; and
- the grant reporting arrangements, and their administration, provide a low level of assurance.