Auditor-general's anonymous online tip-off box a world first?

By The Mandarin

September 17, 2014

The Australian National Audit Office is pretty chuffed with its new online system that accepts information from anyone. It might not sound like much, but the national auditor-general’s office reckons it’s a pretty unique reform.

An ANAO spokesperson told The Mandarin:

“As far as we know this facility was the first of its kind, possibly in the world! No Australian auditor-general had had this kind of facility for all of their audits — although some had established one-off facilities for particularly contentious topics.”

Most of the information that informs government audits still comes from auditors out in the field, but according to the ANAO:

“Even when usage of the [online] facility has been modest, or when little new information is obtained through it, these facts alone are useful for the audit team, for example by providing comfort that they are unlikely to have missed something significant.”

The system was switched on for all ANAO audits in August, 2013 following a successful pilot. It is only available during the information gathering phase of the audits. The idea was to encourage more open and transparent government.

People with information that could assist an ANAO probe can still email or phone the office, or even post a letter if preferred. One feature of the new online system is that it does not require any name or contact details, so public servants could potentially make anonymous disclosures based on their first-hand knowledge.

Right now, anyone with insights into the administration of “recruitment and retention of specialist skills for the Navy” could head over and tip off the auditor-general, for example.

ANAO uses Twitter to invite public submissions through the online comment box at the start of each audit, followers alerting them to the fact that the audit is underway and inviting them to make a contribution.

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