Background: Sustineo undertook a technical audit of the Australian National Botanic Garden’s (ANBG) implementation progress against the ANBG Management Plan 2012-2022 (the Plan). The ambitious Plan featured nine overarching goals, 42 performance indicators, 172 prescribed management policies, and 247 prescribed management actions. The technical audit of the Plan was one of the prescribed actions that needed to be undertaken prior to the development of a new plan.
Approach: We designed a mixed-methods approach to the technical audit aligned with a ‘limited assurance’ auditing standard. Our approach was guided by an engagement plan that documented agreed upon services and timelines with the client. We combined an extensive desk-based review and analysis with targeted stakeholder engagement to examine each prescribed management policy and action, and determine whether these had been successfully implemented. This analysis was undertaken through triangulating administrative data with a wide variety of alternate data sources.
We engaged extensively with relevant senior management personnel responsible for the delivery of the Plan, including officers involved in the delivery of policies and actions. Evidence of performance against each prescribed policy and action was evaluated in relation to the section aims that it was intended to achieve. We carefully documented the reasons why any prescribed policy or action was not implemented or which failed to achieve their desired aims, including determination of the cause.
As part of our quality assurance process, findings were cross-checked among the evaluation team to ensure rigour and consistency. Following this, an independent review was conducted by an Assurance Quality Reviewer aligned to the requirements of the assurance standard.
Based on integrative analysis from the diverse data sources, we developed targeted recommendations for the Director of National Parks (DNP) regarding changes to the aims, policies and actions that should be considered during preparation of the fourth management plan. We also provided the DNP with a deeper understanding of the challenges being faced in the management of and compliance with the management policies and actions as prescribed in the Plan.
Outcome: Sustineo’s approach to the technical audit of the Plan resulted in a comprehensive assessment of the DNP’s implementation of the Plan. Combining our expertise in evaluation and technical audit with a deep understanding of government programs and projects, Sustineo produced a Technical Audit Report, along with a Synthesis Report which investigated evaluation questions of interest to the DNP regarding the broader context of the ANBG leading into the development of its fourth management plan. The findings and recommendations produced from our work were received positively by the client and have informed the ANBG’s future management plan, on which we were engaged to provide technical advice.