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New NSW Auditor General named

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New South Wales has a new Auditor General to keep its agencies above board and in line after Premier Mike Baird announced that the Deputy Secretary at the state’s Department of Family and Community Services, Margaret Crawford, will take over the reins at the statutory office.

The announcement concludes a six month search for a new Auditor General after highly respected veteran Grant Hehir was snapped-up to head the Australian National Audit Office in Canberra after holding the top oversight job in NSW between 2013 and 2015.

“Margaret Crawford is a respected, accomplished and experienced leader who has worked at the top levels of the public sector for more than 20 years,” Mr Baird said.

“She has strong management and leadership credentials and will do an outstanding job in this crucial role.”

Mr Baird also thanked Tony Whitfield, who has held the role of Acting Auditor-General since 2015.

Ms Crawford has seen a formidable tour of duty in senior roles across all three tiers of government in Australia having held leadership roles at the Victorian Department of Human Services, the Australian Taxation Office, Brisbane City Council and the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority.

Although the Baird government has enjoyed more success than its predecessor in managing large and complex projects requiring public funding, it nonetheless remains a target rich environment for financial and performance scrutineers.

Complex builds like the Department of Education and Communities’ Learning Management and Business Reform (LMBR) project – a giant combined student management, human resources, payroll and corporate software system – have continued to cause high profile headaches.

The LMBR system was meant to have been finished at the end of 2014 at a price tag of $483 million, remains incomplete and was slated to have chewed up $573 million at the end of June in 2015.

“The major causes of the cost increases and delays have been changes in business requirements and scope, high level of uncertainty in business cases, weaknesses in governance and insufficient program and contract management,” a report from the NSW Auditor General said in December 2014.

There is still no completion date or final projected cost for the project.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of other meaty financial and performance probes on the Auditor’s runway for 2016.

They include a Performance Audit of the $1.6 billion Sydney CBD and South East Light Rail project due in April 2016 and a look into ‘Realising the benefits of Service NSW’ to be released in due course.

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