Environmental auditing

Audit reform


EPA’s reform of the environmental audit system aims to better manage contaminated environments using a more risk-based approach to regulation. The reform program aims to implement recommendations and commitments on all areas of the environmental audit system.

In 2012, EPA and the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) undertook a joint pilot study. Its purpose was to review and identify opportunities to improve risk-based regulation in the area of environmental auditing of contaminated environments under the Environment Protection Act 1970. VCEC’s review recommendations and supporting background analysis provided EPA with direction and guidance to develop its reform program.

The implementation of the reform program has already improved EPA’s internal efficiency and reduced regulatory burdens for industry. It is estimated that the reforms implemented in 2013–14 will save industry approximately $3.96M per year (2013–14 audit reform – Regulatory change measurement; publication 1578).

Audit reform program

Audit Reform continues to be a priority transformation project for EPA, aligning closely with many of EPA’s strategic priorities. The vision for audit reform is encapsulated in the statement, ‘Victoria’s Environmental Audit System is robust, efficient, and readily understood by its users and members of the public. It effectively protects the environment and the health of all Victorians while efficiently supporting economic development’.

Due to the magnitude of the changes, EPA’s environmental audit system reforms are being implemented in stages over three years (from April 2013 to June 2016).

The reform involves seven separate projects:

  • Audit reform project 01 – Risk appetite (complete): Establish EPA’s risk appetite in relation to the audit system; supporting a consistent application of risk in decision making and roles in the audit system.
  • Audit reform project 02 – Auditors (in progress): Develop and implement processes that allow EPA to adopt a more risk-based approach for the appointment and management of auditors and the associated quality assurance procedures.
  • Audit reform project 03 – Groundwater (in progress): Review and implement a more risk-based approach to ‘clean up to the extent practicable’ (CUTEP) determinations to address concerns related to the cost, time taken and uncertainty of the process.
  • Audit reform project 04 – Audit levels (in progress): Review and implement changes to implement a more risk-based approach to s53X audits. Support changes to policy frameworks so that 53X audit triggers are proportionate to risk and employ different levels of audits. More resources can then be allocated to higher-risk and less to lower-risk audits.
  • Audit reform project 05 – Communications (in progress): Aims to provide clear, sufficient guidance and make information about the audit system and EPA’s role available and transparent to all stakeholders.
  • Audit reform project 06 – Governance (in progress): Identify those Environmental Audit Unit publications, procedures, guidelines and forms that require updating and consolidating, and put in place a program of revision to support audit reform.
  • Audit reform project 07 – Systems (in progress): Refine, review and/or develop systems that improve efficiencies, effectiveness and transparency with information management. The listed tasks differ between an internal or external focus, and in having a technical or administrative application.

This reform program is allowing EPA to spend more time on activities of greater impact to environmental outcomes, while still upholding our role in environmental protection and the public’s confidence in the auditing system.

Page last updated on 15 Dec 2015