Section 11 of the Audit Act 1994

The Auditor-General and his staff have powers to access information for audits. These powers are outlined in section 11 of the Audit Act 1994. Generally authorities provide us with the information we ask for, but when they do not we can issue a notice under section 11 and in accordance with our Procedure for Issue of Section 11 Notices, compel them to do so.

We have the power to request and take copies of a broad range of documents, including documents that:

  • are Cabinet-in-Confidence
  • are in draft form
  • do not belong to a person but are in their possession.

The information on this page provides guidance about the Auditor-General’s information access powers. It should be read in conjunction with section 11 and our Procedure for Issue of Section 11 Notices.

Frequently asked questions

What information do I have to provide? 
What is involved in attending a voluntary face-to-face meeting to provide documents and answer questions?
What if I am asked to provide documents that do not seem relevant?
When do I have to provide information by?
Why do I have to provide information within a certain time frame?
What happens if I do not provide the requested information?
What is a section 11 notice?
When will a section 11 notice be issued?
Do I have to comply with a section 11 notice?
What are my rights at  a compulsory appearance?
What happens at a compulsory appearance?
 

What information do I have to provide?

We will ask for particular documents and information to assist with the audit and may ask you to attend a voluntary face-to-face meeting. This could be before we have provided the final scope of the audit. We may ask for additional documents and information at any time during the audit.

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What is involved in attending a voluntary face-to-face meeting to provide documents and answer questions?

You may be asked to attend a voluntary face-to-face meeting to produce documents or answer questions.

This meeting will be scheduled at a specified time and place, usually on VAGO premises.

VAGO must ensure that you have adequate support such as a parent, guardian, independent person or competent interpreter present if you attend a voluntary face to face meeting and you:

  • are under 18
  • do not have sufficient English language skills to be able to understand or answer questions
  • have a mental impairment.

What if I am asked to provide documents that do not seem relevant?

The Auditor-General has discretion to request any documents and information that he considers relevant to an audit.

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When do I have to provide information by?

We will give a time frame when we request documents. We may agree to give you extra time if you request this before the original time frame has lapsed.

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Why do I have to provide information within a certain time frame?

We request documents within a certain time frame so that we are able to efficiently complete audits. Setting a time frame also allows us to report on the audit results in a timely and relevant way.

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What happens if I do not provide the requested information?

Authorities usually give us the requested documents on time or ask for an extension.

If you do not give us the requested documents on time, we will:

  • contact you to ask why you have not given us the documents
  • consider your reasons for not providing the documents
  • decide whether to allow you extra time to give us the documents or whether to issue a section 11 notice.

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What is a section 11 notice?

A section 11 notice is a notice requiring that a person attend a compulsory appearance. The appearance will usually be held on VAGO premises. 

A section 11 notice will require the person to bring particular documents to the compulsory appearance. A section 11 notice will also outline the matters that will be discussed at the appearance, except when the Auditor-General or his staff have reasonable grounds to believe that alerting the person to the matter would be likely to prejudice the audit, or would be contrary to the public interest.

We rarely issue section 11 notices as authorities usually provide the requested documents.

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When will a section 11 notice be issued?

The Auditor-General will consider the following factors before issuing a section 11 notice:

  • the authority’s reasons for not providing the requested documents
  • the authority’s history in cooperating with our requests for documents
  • the volume of documents requested
  • the urgency of the request
  • any other relevant factors.

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Do I have to comply with a section 11 notice?

Under section 14 of the Audit Act 1994, it is an offence to not comply with a section 11 notice.

If you do not comply with a section 11 notice, we will ask you for an explanation. We will consider your explanation before deciding what further action to take.

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What are my rights at a compulsory appearance?

You are entitled to seek legal advice from, and be represented by, a legal practitioner. Your legal representative will be permitted to be present during the appearance, and to provide advice to you on any matter relating to the audit or to your rights, liabilities, obligations and privileges under the Audit Act 1994.

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What happens at a compulsory appearance?

Before a compulsory appearance begins, we will ask you to read this statement. We will also ask you to swear an oath or take an affirmation. All compulsory appearances are audio or video recorded.

You will be provided with a copy of the audio or video recording and any transcript created, unless the Auditor-General has reasonable grounds to think that the provision of the recording or transcript may prejudice the audit. If you are not provided with a copy of the recording or transcript, you will be allowed to listen to or view the recording at VAGO premises at any reasonable time.

Before you are asked any questions or required to produce any documents, your legal representative will be advised of the relevant secrecy obligations under the Audit Act 1994.

We will not give you a list of questions before the compulsory appearance. You may, however, bring any documents to the examination that you think may be useful.

Under section 20A of the Audit Act 1994, compulsory appearances are confidential. The Auditor-General may, however, include information from a compulsory appearance in a report if the information is relevant and in the public interest.

You might need further information to properly answer questions asked at a compulsory appearance. If so, we may suspend the compulsory appearance to another time and place to provide you with an opportunity to obtain the information.

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Last updated on 22/03/2017