The audit was prompted by questions from the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Refugee Council of Australia, Members of Parliament and others, who publicly enquired about the length of time being taken to process Australian citizenship by conferral applications.
The he Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report predictably found that:
- Applications for citizenship by conferral have not been processed efficiently by the Department of Home Affairs.
- Applications have not been processed in a time-efficient manner.
- Processing times have increased and long delays are evident between applications being lodged and decisions being taken on whether or not to confer citizenship.
- Significant periods of inactivity are evident for both complex and non-complex applications accepted by the department for processing.
- Applications have not been processed in a resource-efficient manner. The Department has a suite of initiatives in train that are designed to improve efficiency but implementation has been slow.
- There are not set external key performance indicators to inform Parliament and other stakeholders of how efficient it has been in processing conferral applications. Further, the department is not checking the quality of the decisions being taken.
The report made three recommendations for improvement to the Department of Home Affairs, which included:
- Reintroducing externally reported key performance indicators and expanding the publication of processing times (both rejected by the Department).
- The improved monitoring of performance standards (the Department agreed in principle).
- A revised funding model for citizenship activities be developed by the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Finance (the Department agreed).