An impeditive administrative culture? The legacy of Australia's first Auditor-General on the Australian Audit Office

Wanna, John & Ryan, Christine M. (2003) An impeditive administrative culture? The legacy of Australia's first Auditor-General on the Australian Audit Office. Australian Journal of Politics and History, 49(4), pp. 469-480.

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This historical study offers an historical narrative of the Australian Audit Office from its formation in 1901 until the end of the term of Australia's first Auditor-General in 1925. The Audit Office was created to assist the government in discharging and reporting on its accountability for the economical use of resources. The model under which the Office was created was one based on small government where a minimalist role for the Office was envisaged. Accordingly, the initial Audit Act dictated a detailed audit methodology. However, the expansion of Commonwealth activities due to the outbreak of the First World War, the realities of a decentralised Commonwealth administration and the more commercial activities of government created numerous problems for both the Office and government. The Auditor-General was unable, or unwilling, to adapt his audit methodologies to suit the changing circumstances of Australian public administration and the Audit Office increasingly fell into an audit backlog. Relations with the executive periodically became strained over these matters prompting intervention by subsequent governments. This early period is important historically as it provides a window through which to view the development of the public sector audit function and its contribution to an efficient public sector. In addition, the events of this period illustrate the importance of relations between the Audit Office and the government, and the role of the Auditor-General in contributing to an efficient public administration.

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1 citations in Scopus
1 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 3604
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Australia, Auditor, General, Administrative Culture, Auditing
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2003.00309.x
ISSN: 1467-8497
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Blackwell Publishing
Copyright Statement: The definitive version is available at
Deposited On: 24 Feb 2006 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:00

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