Updated - Audit and assurance
Final report - Local Land Services governance audit (October 2015)
Final report - Local Land Services communications audit (April 2016)
Government response - Governance audit
Government response - Communications audit
The Natural Resources Commission Act 2003 requires the Natural Resources Commission (the Commission) to undertake audits of plans and other natural resource management issues, as required by the Minister.
The Commission's audits deliver accountability of service delivery, drive improved performance, and engender community and investor confidence in the audited organisation's activities.
The Minister for Primary Industries has asked the Commission to be the auditor of Local Land Services.
Audits of Local Land Services
In May 2015, the Minister endorsed the Commission’s two-year audit plan for Local Land Services and requested the Commission complete the two priority performance audits, governance and communications. These areas were selected based on an extensive risk assessment undertaken in collaboration with Local Land Services.
The governance audit focused on assessing key aspects of Local Land Services’ governance to provide a basis for accelerating organisational maturity and improving performance.
The Commission found areas of sound governance practice in Local Land Services, as well as significant areas for improvement. The Commission made recommendations in a number of core areas including governance structure, strategy, roles and accountabilities, systems, risk management, and culture and leadership.
The communications audit focused on assessing the overall maturity of Local Land Services’ communications and identifying opportunities for improving performance.
The audit identified good operational communications practices, and professional and diligent frontline service delivery staff across Local Land Services.
While many examples of sound on-ground communications practices were identified, the audit also highlighted insufficient valuing and prioritising of communications as a core business function. This has prevented Local Land Services from maximising customer service and stakeholder engagement efforts. Key recommendations relate to improving communications strategies, structure, leadership, skills, role clarity, stakeholder engagement and brand profile.
NSW Government response
In December 2016, the NSW Government provided its response to the Commission’s governance and communications audit recommendations. The Government supports all of the Commission’s recommendations and has developed strategies for implementation.
In July 2014, the Commission developed an audit strategy and approach to auditing outcomes in line with its legislative requirement to provide Government with independent advice on natural resource management, including through the specific function of undertaking audits, as required by the Minister.
Before that, the Commission released a quick reference guide to help determine the appropriate type of audit service based on level of assurance required, and a brochure introducing its independent audits.
Prior to the establishment of Local Land Services in January 2014, Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) developed catchment action plans for their regions. The Commission audited the effectiveness of implementation of these plans in delivering social, economic and environmental outcomes in line with the state-wide standard and targets. These audit reports are available on the publications page.
The Commission's audits of catchment action plans provided the Government with an understanding of progress a CMA was making in effectively implementing its catchment action plan. The Commission's audits also guided the CMA Board in continual improvement.
The focus of the Commission's audits was to test whether regional planning, project implementation and business systems met the Standard for Quality Natural Resource Management and helped achieve state-wide targets for natural resource management.
In 2006, the Commission reviewed eight catchment action plans and recommended to Government for approval.
In 2008 and 2009, the Commission completed the first round of 13 audits of catchment action plan implementation. Nine CMAs demonstrated a very high or high level of effectiveness in implementing their catchment action plans, and four demonstrated a fair level of effectiveness. The Commission conducted second audits of the latter four CMAs to understand how plan implementation had progressed.
In 2010, the Commission used the information from comprehensive audits in reporting NSW's progress towards healthy, resilient landscapes.
In 2011, CMAs started upgrading their region's catchment action plans. The Commission collaborated with government agencies to develop an assessment framework setting out the review process for upgraded plans.
In 2013, the Commission assessed nine upgraded catchment action plans and recommended that Government approve these plans. The Commission also reported on lessons learned from upgrading plans and developed a Better Practice Guide to help Local Land Services adapt these plans to fit their regions. The 11 adapted LLS plans were reviewed by the Commission to ensure the integrity and intent of the original plans was maintained in the transition to Local Land Services. This rapid review was completed over a period of three weeks at the end of 2013 in time for the commencement of Local Land Services.
Progress report - Progress towards healthy, resilient landscapes (December 2010)
Upgrading catchment Action plans - Lessons for LLS (June 2013)
Better practice guide - Adapting catchment action plans to fit LLS (August 2013)