Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When will parliament catch-up

So the NBN joint house committee met last night. I didn't tune in - Tuesday night is bridge night and that is very important for my mental well-being.

Ry Crozier did an excellent job of commentary on the proceedings which has made me wish I could review it myself. But Hansard takes time to type up (for committees, never for the Parliament itself ... why is that?). But in this day and age you wonder why the Parliamentary website can't actually store a file of the proceedings that was broadcast. It would certainly be consistent with the ambitions inherent in the Digital Economy strategy.

Meanwhile I'll have to hold off on providing further comments - though from Ry's tweets the coalition members again made a complete hash of the proceedings.

The biggest news though was the committee winding up early because an NBN co progress report was unavailable. The delay appears to be caused by the Departmental officers not being prepared to release the report till they could verify the information following receipt of audited financials.

This reflects a general public service misunderstanding of the role of audits. Audits don't guarantee the accuracy of financial reports. They do two things. They use statistical sampling to check whether there are systemic errors, and they audit processes to ensure that data is captured. It is extremely rare for financial results to be amended as a consequence of an audit.

Furthermore there is no risk in releasing data based upon the company's own results data even if that needed to be qualified as being unaudited. The focus of the progress report was certainly more appropriately focussed on the non-financial milestones anyway. The financial results are just going to show a huge capital spend with little revenue - just like any large infrastructure project.

It is a pity. There are some good people in that part of DBCDE. They can and should do better than that.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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