ANAO audit flags issues in CASA’s surveillance

By Anna Macdonald

Monday May 23, 2022

The pandemic saw 230 of 306 planned surveillance events not being conducted in 2019/20. (Pakpoom/Adobe)

An audit from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has found issues with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) surveillance approach, although ANAO acknowledges CASA has appropriate policies and largely carries out its surveillance functions. 

‘Surveillance’ in the report includes operational checks of equipment, inspections of premises and assessments of safety performance.

The pandemic saw 230 of 306 planned surveillance events not being conducted in 2019/20. COVID-19 has had a lasting impact on the aviation industry, with border shutdowns impacting both international and domestic travel. 

The lack of risk-likelihood in prioritising surveillance projects was named as an issue in the audit, diminishing CASA’s approach to surveillance. The audit further found a lack of consistency in the application of surveillance across sectors, with delays in identifying key areas of focus for surveillance. 

The report found that although CASA’s National Oversight Plan (NOP) contained high-level principles, it was not supported by a more detailed and specific project plan. In response, CASA aims to have formally implemented the NOP by end of 2022-23.

A reduction in the level of detail in surveillance reporting was highlighted in the audit, with recent reporting found not to accurately reflect issues identified by CASA. Reports to the board contained the percentage of planned surveillance projects completed, not the efficacy of its surveillance. 

Another area flagged by the report was CASA’s management of staff’s conflicts of interest. In May 2021, an internal report found that 30% of staff who had declared a conflict of interest when they applied for the job had not made a declaration within the week of commencing the job, as is required.

In response to the finding, CASA has said it will update its online system for staff to update their conflicts of interest. 

CASA has accepted all seven of the recommendations made by the ANAO. The last time CASA was subject to an audit by ANAO was 2010.


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