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Internal and external scrutiny part 1

Internal audit

An external provider, KPMG, was engaged during the year to provide internal audit services for the next three years. The major focus of the 2002-2003 program was directed to human resource and financial management arrangements within the Museum.

External audit

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) continued to audit the Museum's annual financial statements.

The ANAO's performance audit of risk and insurance management in government agencies was completed during the year, and its report is expected to be presented to parliament late in 2003.

Risk management and fraud control

As part of the Government's public sector requirements, all Commonwealth agencies are required to have risk management plans aimed at efficient and effective delivery of government programs and at promoting sound business practices.

The Council Audit and Finance Committee and Museum management ensure that appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation and reporting procedures and processes are in place and are effective.

Consolidation of the National Museum's risk management framework during the year contributed significantly to the staff's individual and collective understanding of the importance of effective risk management.

This consolidation was achieved by the Risk Management Unit, senior management and the cross-divisional Risk Management Working Group working cooperatively to establish an increased individual and collective understanding by staff of the importance of effective risk management. Particular activities included:

  • development of a corporate risk register, risk treatment schedule and risk management instruction manual to accompany the Museum's risk management plan

  • the integration of risk management into the business planning for all of the Museum's public programs and significant public events

  • risk management and insurance included as a standing item in the Director's report to each Council meeting ensuring that the Council has a formal role in the monitoring of risk management and performance

  • external consultants, Walter and Turnbull, were engaged to draft a fraud risk analysis plan consistent with the Commonwealth's Fraud Control Policy. It is expected that Council will consider this early in 2003-2004. Training for staff will accompany implementation of the plan.

The Museum intends to review its risk management plan in the second half of 2003-2004 and risk management training courses for staff will commence in late 2003.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 requires each Commonwealth Government agency to publish a statement setting out its role, functions, decision-making powers, consultative procedures, the documents available for public inspection, and access to such documents. This statement is available in Appendix 12. There were three formal requests made for access to documents under section 15 of the Act. These requests concerned:

  • the Museum's funding review for the 2002-2003 Budget

  • the Government's reappointment of the Director in December 2002

  • the Review of Exhibitions and Public Programs.

Privacy legislation

The Museum provides information as required to the Privacy Commissioner for inclusion in the Personal Information Digest. No reports by the Privacy Commission under section 30 of the Privacy Act 1988 concerning actions or practices by the Museum were received during 2002-2003.

Major reviews

Two major reviews of the Museum's programs and operations were conducted during the year. These were:

Review of Cultural Agencies - Encouraging Best Practice

This review was undertaken by the Government to examine current operational practices and emerging issues for 11 cultural agencies including the Museum, the National Library of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Archives of Australia, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Australia Council, the Australia Business Arts Foundation, Film Australia Ltd, Film Finance Corporation Australia, the Australian Film Commission and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. The review also considered the long-term funding and governance arrangements of the Bundanon Trust and the National Institute for Dramatic Art.

The review concluded that cultural agencies compare favourably to best practice benchmarks for both corporate and operational activities. Review recommendations included a number of proposed collaborative initiatives, including achievement of economies of scale and rationalisation of costs for storage of collections, development of strategies to maximise investment in and management of digitisation activities, examination of potential benefits to share conservation facilities across the agencies, and development of data and research into entry fee impacts.

The review also established new funding arrangements for the preservation of the national collections.

The current arrangements of free admission to the Museum and paid entry to major temporary exhibitions, as well as for some public programs, is to continue.

Review of Exhibitions and Public Programs

At its meeting on 1 November 2002 Council approved the terms of reference for a review of the Museum's exhibitions and public and schools programs as well as the membership of the review committee. The terms of reference were to:

  1. examine the aims and content of the Museum's exhibitions, both permanent and temporary, and schools and public programs. The examination will include the following:

    (i) whether the Museum has complied with its role and functions as set out in the National Museum of Australia Act 1980, its charter and other relevant documents

    (ii) whether the Government's vision in approving funding for the development of the Museum has been realised.
  2. consider and make recommendations on the future priorities to be addressed by the Museum, including the continuing relevance of its Act, in the development of permanent and temporary exhibitions and schools and public programs.

The members of the Review Committee were

  • Dr John Carroll, Reader in Sociology, La Trobe University, Melbourne (Chair)
  • Mr Richard Longes, Director, Investec Australia Ltd Investment Bank
  • Dr Phillip Jones, Senior Curator of Anthropology, South Australian Museum
  • Dr Patricia Vickers-Rich, Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Director of the Monash Science Centre, Monash University, Melbourne

In accordance with section 15 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 which requires agencies to advise the responsible Minister of significant events, on 1 November 2002 the Minister for the Arts and Sport was advised of the review's terms of reference and the membership of the Committee.

The Chairman of the Museum's Council publicly announced the commencement of the review on 3 January 2003. A secretariat was established within the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts to manage the conduct of the review, in particular the seeking of submissions and undertaking consultations.

The Director of the National Museum presented a major written submission to the Review Committee, a copy of which is available on the Museum's website, and provided substantial background information and documentation in response to specific issues and questions raised by committee members. The Review Committee also met with the Museum's Council and the Museum's Director and senior staff, as well as calling for public submissions and meeting with academics, museum specialists, heads of related institutions and experts in a variety of relevant disciplines to discuss exhibitions and programs and to identify issues that should shape the Museum's future development.

The Chair of the Review Committee is expected to present the Committee's report to the Museum's Council on 15 July 2003.

Formal decisions/notifications/Ministerial directions

There have been no judicial decisions or decisions of administrative tribunals that have had, or may have, a significant impact on the Museum's operations. In July 2002, the responsible Minister advised the Museum of a new general policy regarding foreign exchange risk management and in May 2003 the Council was advised of a new general policy on cost recovery.

Significant event

In accordance with section 15 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 which requires agencies to advise the responsible Minister of significant events, on 1 November 2002 the Minister for the Arts and Sport was advised of the establishment of the Review of Exhibitions and Public Programs, its terms of reference and the members of the committee.

Legal actions

No legal actions were commenced against the Museum during the year.


No new issues or matters about the Museum were referred to, or raised with, the Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office.

Internal and external scrutiny continued - page 2

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