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Australia: Report slams private detention facilities.

The Courier Mail
By Ian McPhedran
June 19 2004
Detention centres 'poorly managed'

GOVERNMENT auditors have blasted the Immigration Department for mismanaging a $500 million taxpayer-funded detention centre contract.

Australasian Correctional Management ran 12 immigration detention centres on behalf of the Howard Government from early 1998 until early this year.

According to the Australian National Audit Office report, the Department of Immigration, Indigenous and Multicultural Affairs had no strategy for detaining asylum seekers, let alone a contract management plan with ACM.

The damning report found:

No risk management strategy in the contract.

No contract management training or guidance.

No performance targets and an ad hoc approach to changing numbers.

No contract monitoring or assessment.

No financial risk strategy or asset management plan.

"This meant that DIMIA was not able to assess whether its strategies were actually working in practice," the report said.

During the contract the number of detainees varied from just a handful in 1998 to 3000 in the year 2000.

And the auditors could find no assurance that the financial aspects of the $500 million contract "operated as intended".

The report also found a gap in the audit trail.

"Invoicing procedures where the audit trail between the services provided and payments made did not provide senior managers with assurance that full value for money was being achieved," it said.

"A systematic approach to risk management, including the establishment of an appropriate and documented risk management strategy, should have been an integral part of contract management," the auditors said.

According to the report a manual for departmental centre managers was not issued until four years after the contract began and had not been kept up to date.

In its response to the report the department agreed with the six recommendations made by the auditors.

It defended itself by saying the audit did not "fully reflect and take account of the complexity of the environment and the nature of the previous detention contract".

"Many aspects of the contract were intended to be flexibly addressed through negotiation and discussion," it said.

Opposition immigration spokesman Stephen Smith demanded the return of immigration detention centres to government management.

"The report is a comprehensive condemnation of the Government's policy of the privatisation of the management of immigration detention centres and a comprehensive indictment of DIMIA's administration of it," Mr Smith said.

The auditors found that 38 of the 100 immigration detention standards issued by the department had no performance measures and another 37 were only partially covered.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone's spokesman did not respond to the report.

http://www.thecouriermail.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5936,9885725%255E953,00.html



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