Accountable authorities are required to monitor and respond to committee reports in a timely fashion and in accordance with the Tabling Guidelines released by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Responsible government entities and bodies should actively monitor parliamentary committee reports and ensure that adequate processes are in place to monitor the implementation of the recommendations accepted by the Government. The presentation of documents to the Parliament is an important component of the Government's accountability to the Parliament and the broader community.
Role of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA)
The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA), a joint committee of the parliament, established under the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951 holds inquiries and make recommendations that need to be responded to by the government.
The JCPAA has released a guide on its requirements for government entities and bodies responding to its recommendations. This can be found on the JCPAA website (under the Government Responses section). The guide outlines its response requirements for two categories of recommendations - Executive Minutes relating to administrative recommendations, including providing a template; and government responses relating to policy recommendations.
Consideration of JCPAA reports
The government has its own internal requirements in relation to these two types of recommendations:
- Policy recommendations - requiring government responses
- Administrative recommendations - requiring executive minutes.
JCPAA recommendations involve matters of Government policy when they warrant decisions by Ministers or Cabinet, for example, because they have implications for existing Government policy and/or involve legislative changes.
Policy recommendations should be addressed in a Government response from the responsible Minister(s) to the Chair of the JCPAA. Consistent with the standard practice for responding to the recommendations of Parliamentary Committees, Ministers should seek the agreement of the Prime Minister or Cabinet prior to the response being made to the Chair of the JCPAA and within six months of tabling of the report.
Responses should be prepared and tabled in accordance with the Tabling Guidelines (including Government documents, Government Responses to Committee Reports, Ministerial Statements, Annual Reports and Other Instruments), available on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website and available under Tools and templates.
Where entities are uncertain as to whether a recommendation is policy (and therefore requires consideration by the Prime Minister or Cabinet) they may choose to consult the relevant line area in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Recommendations that are administrative in nature will have no implications for existing Government policy. Consequently, administrative recommendations can be implemented or decided upon by the responsible Accountable Authority of the entity(ies) affected. Note that where circumstances warrant consulting the responsible Minister prior to the submission of an Executive Minute to the Chair of the JCPAA, this should be undertaken. This consultation may encompass content, timing and method of tabling for example.
Administrative responses should be addressed by way of an Executive Minute. Depending on the circumstances, these can either be provided by the responsible Minister or the responsible Accountable Authority (departmental Secretary or Chief Executive), to the Chair of the JCPAA within six months of tabling of the report. The approach for submitting the Executive Minute should be agreed between the relevant parties with the responsible Minister. The Executive Minute should address the substance and intent of each of the administrative recommendations raised in the JCPAA report that are relevant to the entity.
Where two or more entities are responding to a single administrative recommendation, the Accountable Authority with the primary interest in the matters raised should coordinate a single response. Instances where one entity is supporting and one is not supporting a recommendation, or different aspects of the one recommendation affect each entity, a single co-ordinated response is still required. Differences can be explicated in this response, clarifying why different administrative approaches apply in particular portfolios.
Responses to administrative recommendations are tabled in the Parliament by the JCPAA. However, the responsible Minister may decide to table responses to administrative recommendations in addition to the JCPAA tabling process.
The process for entities to address JCPAA reports was agreed by Finance, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the JCPAA.