The Department of Human Services (Human Services or the department) delivers Centrelink and Medicare payments to the community on behalf of the Australian Government and in accordance with legislation, government and entity policies. The Minister for Human Services, through the department, administers the Human Services (Centrelink) Act 1997 and the Human Services (Medicare) Act 1973, except to the extent the Medicare Act is administered by the Minister for Health.
In 2017–18, the department administered $171.9 billion in social and health related payments. Human Services is responsible for managing fraud and compliance programs to protect the integrity of those government outlays. The department’s annual compliance strategies include identifying potential risks to payment accuracy and educating people about their obligations.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) selected Human Services’ compliance strategies for audit because Human Services allocates significant resources each year to its compliance programs and activities for the Centrelink and Medicare programs. In 2017–18, the cost to the department of undertaking some 1.1 million fraud and compliance activities for both programs was about $267 million. This audit assessed whether Human Services had effective high-level strategies in place to support compliance activities for the Centrelink program and the Medicare program for the three years from 2015–16 to 2017–18.
The audit objective was to assess whether Human Services has an effective high-level compliance strategy for administered payments made under the Centrelink and Medicare programs.
To form a conclusion against this objective, the ANAO adopted two high-level criteria:
- Does a high-level strategy guide a coordinated program of compliance activities?
- Does a high-level strategy support the conduct of compliance activities?