Plant export Authorised Officer audit and performance standards questions and answers

​​​​This document summarises the authorised officer (AO) audit and performance standards maintained by the plant export operations branch, and addresses some frequently asked questions about the policy.

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What are the authorised officer audit and performance standards?

The AO audit and performance standards outlines the audit policy maintained by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (the department) to audit AOs appointed for plant export job functions. The policy describes the framework of how and when AOs are audited by the department. The performance standards set the criteria against which AOs are assessed during audits in order to determine their compliance with legislative and departmental requirements.

Why does the department conduct audits?

The department conducts audits for a number of reasons, including to ensure that legislative and departmental requirements are being met and as a means to provide assurance to stakeholders. This assurance is paramount for the department to both maintain existing market access as well as gain new market access.

How often will I be audited?

You will have a periodic audit at least once every twelve months. The timeframe for your periodic audit may be reduced to three or six months if you were issued one or more corrective action requests (CARs) previously. These schedules may also be adjusted to align audits with seasonal work relevant to the job functions you are appointed for. You may have an unannounced audit conducted at any time and with any frequency.

How does the audit process work?

Your audit will begin with an examination of export documentation completed by you. The documents examined form the focal point of the subsequent discussion and if the auditor discovers any errors or anomalies they will address this when they meet with you.

When the auditor meets with you, they will conduct an entry meeting where they will describe the objective, scope and process of the audit. They will then work through a checklist designed to evaluate your compliance with legislative and departmental requirements. If the audit is a demonstration audit, the auditor will require you to perform an export activity (such as an inspection) before them. Even if you don’t have a demonstration audit, you may be required to perform a physical demonstration for a particular task to support your verbal response to a particular checklist item.

An exit meeting with be conducted at the conclusion of your audit, at which you’ll be advised of your audit outcome and receive copies of any CARs you may have incurred. The auditor will identify what the timeframe for your next audit will be, which is determined by their findings. You’ll receive an audit report either at your exit meeting, or within 10 days following your audit.

Will I be audited for all of my job functions?

You may be audited for all or some of your appointed job functions, depending on the number of job functions you are appointed for and whether or not you have been active (conducted export activities) in each job function. Where you are appointed for many job functions you will be audited on only a select few using a hierarchy system that prioritises your more high-risk job functions for auditing. Where you haven’t used one or more of your appointed job functions since your appointment or last audit, it will be excluded from the audit process.

What happens if I receive a negative audit result?

You will receive CARs for any non-compliances identified at your audit, which may result in a negative audit result. Where this occurs, you may receive a reduced audit timeframe of either three or six months. Sometimes training may be mandated to rectify a non-compliance where it is identified as the appropriate pathway for rectification. Negative audit outcomes warranting immediate attention may be referred to the delegate and (in cases of extreme or repeated non-compliances) may result in the revocation of your appointment.

What if I haven’t conducted any inspections or other export activities since my appointment or my last audit?

If you haven’t conducted export activities for some of your appointed job functions but you have for others, you’ll be audited against only those job functions for which you have conducted export activities. If you haven’t conducted export activities for any of your appointed job functions since your appointment or most recent audit you’ll have your audit rescheduled for a later date. If you haven’t conducted any export activities in over twelve months, you’ll be referred to the Authorised Officer program and additional training may be required.

Are audits chargeable?

Yes, audits are chargeable under the fee-for-service structure currently legislated at a rate of $36 per 15 minutes (or part thereof). Information about these charges are available on the department’s charging guidelines.

Where can I find the full AO audit and performance standards document?

The full Authorised Officer Audit and Performance Standards document, which is more detailed and comprehensive, can be found on the Plant Export Operations Manual at Volume 17 under the General drop-down box.