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‘Fallen well short’ of standards: Audit slams Immigration Department over Nauru and Manus Island contracts

Michael Koziol reports in the Brisbane Times (17.1.17) on the contents of a National Audit Office report which strongly criticises the federal Immigration Department for mismanaging offshore detention centre contracts.

‘Billions of taxpayer dollars were handed to the private contractors running Australia’s offshore detention centres without adequate authorisation or value-for-money assessments, the Commonwealth auditor has found.

‘In a scathing report, the Australian National Audit Office said the Immigration Department had “fallen well short” of expected standards in its management of contracts for detention facilities on Manus Island and Nauru.

‘Out of $2.3 billion paid over 40 months, $1.1 billion was approved by officers without the appropriate authorisation and another $1.1 billion was paid with “no departmental record” of who had authorised the payments.

‘The ANAO also concluded the contracts themselves lacked effective guidelines and management mechanisms, owing partly to the “great haste” with which the detention centres were established in 2012-13. Many faults persisted in later contracts, the ANAO said.

‘… The Department of Immigration and Border Protection denied it made payments without the appropriate authorisations, or that it failed to give due consideration to value for money.

‘But it agreed to implement the ANAO’s recommendations, including taking “immediate steps” to strengthen procedures and comply with its own Accountable Authority Instructions.’

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