CEO Senate Estimates opening statement 2022
Thank you Chair and Committee Members.
I appreciate the opportunity to provide the Committee with my annual Statement as CEO of the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (IPEA) and to reflect on the work of the last year.
2021 had two important governance milestones for IPEA. They started with the tabling of the ANAO’s Performance Audit on IPEA’s Administration of Parliamentary Expenses and they ended with IPEA’s submission to the independent legislative reviews of the 2017 IPEA and Parliamentary Business Resources Acts. We welcomed both as important opportunities – the performance audit to reflect on ‘how’ we undertake our legislative responsibilities and the legislative review on ‘what’ we do. While we await the government’s response to the legislative review recommendations, IPEA has well progressed the ANAO recommendations.
In IPEA’s view, the principles based approach for parliamentary work expenses has proven to be flexible and adaptable - it has catered for bushfires, the pandemic, an election and floods. We base this assessment on results from IPEA’s annual independent client survey and our own monitoring of media and press coverage of travel-related issues. I want to thank parliamentarians and their staff for participating in our annual client survey and letting us know where we can improve. For example, as a result of client feedback, one of our projects this financial year is the upgrade of website facilities.
The survey shows that client satisfaction with the advice line service is above 90%. I believe IPEA’s strong culture of assistance and the regular use of the advice line by parliamentarians and their staff to seek and receive travel related advice, are important factors in acceptance of the Framework.
From the start, IPEA adopted an education first approach for travel related expenses. This included developing IPEA-Ed, an on-line training tool capturing the processes and decision making for claiming travel expenses, and aligning it to the principles based framework and also providing the education material to the public.
Building on this education focus with new parliamentarians and staff as they commence their parliamentary career has led to increased understanding and capability in the administration and management of travel related work expenses. IPEA believes that this is critical to the on-going success of its administration of the PBR Framework and will continue to be a focus during an election year.
At previous Estimates, I have spoken of some areas of particular focus for our Assurance function, including travel associated with sporting and cultural events and travel to what might be called desirable destinations.
Much of our Assurance activity takes place, unnoticed and in the background. We engage regularly with parliamentarians when conducting Assurance Reviews and I want to acknowledge the overwhelming majority of that engagement is characterised by co-operation and a sense of mutual purpose. We have been encouraged by the preparedness of parliamentarians to assist us in our examination of their use of work resources. In turn, this has enhanced IPEA’s capacity to help parliamentarians meet the obligations required of them by the PBR legislation.
There is one highlight event during the year that I particularly want to mention. That is, IPEA hosting an International Forum for parliamentary colleagues in partnership with the UK and NZ. The Forum was an opportunity to explore how different countries approach integrity, trust and transparency while maintaining business as usual client service. This foray into a virtual community of international best practice was a new and challenging experience for many IPEAns and I wish to publicly acknowledge their commitment and success. Thankyou IPEAns, it remains an honour to be your CEO.
Thank you Chair, I am available for questions.
Chief Executive Officer