Administration of Superannuation

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1 PERFORMANCE EXAMINATION Administration of Superannuation Report 3 June 2004 AUDITOR GENERAL for Western Australia Serving the Public Interest

2 AUDITOR GENERAL for Western Australia THE SPEAKER LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY THE PRESIDENT LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL PERFORMANCE EXAMINATION Administration of Superannuation This report has been prepared consequent to an examination conducted under section 80 of the Financial Administration and Audit Act 1985 for submission to Parliament under the provisions of section 95 of the Act. Performance Examinations are an integral part of the overall Performance Auditing program and seek to provide Parliament with assessments of the effectiveness and efficiency of public sector programs and activities thereby identifying opportunities for improved performance. The information provided through this approach will, I am sure, assist Parliament in better evaluating agency performance and enhance Parliamentary decision-making to the benefit of all Western Australians. D D R PEARSON AUDITOR GENERAL June 30, AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

3 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Contents Executive Summary 4 Key Findings 4 Key Recommendations 4 Why We Did This Examination 5 What We Did 5 The Superannuation Schemes Managed by GESB 5 What We Found 6 Public Sector Superannuation 8 GESB Managed Superannuation Schemes 8 Changing Superannuation Environment 9 Administrative Process for Public Sector Superannuation 10 Administration of Investment Management 11 Findings 11 Recommendations 11 Introduction 12 Investment Outcomes 12 Investment Oversight Structure 13 Monitoring Compliance with the Investment Strategy 14 Cost of Administering the Schemes 16 Findings 16 Recommendations 16 How Do GESB s Administration Costs Compare With Other Schemes 17 Rising Administration Costs 17 West State Super Fees 19 Services to Government 20 Processing of Contributions and Benefits 21 Findings 21 Recommendations 21 The Need for Accurate and Timely Contributions and Benefits 22 Contributions 22 Benefits 24 Tax File Numbers (TFNs) 24 Relationship with Government 25 Finding 25 Recommendation 25 Changing Environment 26 Government s Current Relationship with GESB 26 Appendix 29 Examination Approach 29 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 3

4 Executive Summary Key Findings The Government Employees Superannuation Board (GESB) is managing its primary responsibilities of investing funds and paying benefits effectively. GESB s administration costs per member have risen 45 per cent in the last three years and are at the higher end when compared with other State public sector schemes. GESB has sound investment processes and investments are made by an experienced and specialised investment team. Over the past three years, investment returns for most asset classes have been comparable with, or slightly above, established benchmarks. The incidence of inaccuracies in contributions calculated by agencies remains high 15 per cent for West State Super (WSS), 22 per cent for Gold State Super (GSS). However, the impact on individual member s ultimate benefits is relatively immaterial. The change of the predominant WSS to an accumulation type benefits scheme warrants a reappraisal of the approach to government oversight of GESB. Key Recommendations GESB should: contain its administration costs by addressing costs overall and specifically those associated with IT systems implementation and the introduction of new products and services. GESB and employer agencies should: work to streamline the processing, and improve the accuracy and timeliness, of contributions, particularly for GSS. Government should: review its oversight regime to ensure arrangements are appropriate to protect both its own and members interests in an environment where all benefits are no longer defined and underwritten by government. This should include examination of options for clearer separation between its performance management and regulatory roles. 4 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

5 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Why We Did This Examination The Government Employees Superannuation Board s (GESB) administration impacts directly upon the majority of the State s approximately public sector employees. At December 31, 2003, it managed an investment portfolio of $3.7 billion and there were members. GESB s role and responsibilities changed substantially in July 2001 when West State Super (WSS) became an accumulation type scheme where greater trustee obligations arise because the investment risk rests with members. This contrasts with the earlier defined benefit schemes, Gold State Super (GSS) and the Pension Scheme, where benefits were fixed and the government made up any shortfall in investment earnings. What We Did The examination focused on the two main schemes WSS and GSS. It reviewed the performance of these schemes, in terms of: investment management payment of benefits administration costs the accuracy and timeliness of contributions received from employer agencies. This included reviewing GESB s procedures as well as those of 14 agencies. The accuracy and timeliness of contributions sent to GESB by five of these agencies were specifically tested and the results compared with the findings of an April 2000 audit (Report No 1 April 2000) GESB s relationship with government. The Superannuation Schemes Managed by GESB GESB s activities are governed by the State Superannuation Act 2000 and, under this Act, it manages three main superannuation schemes: the Pension Scheme closed to new members since 1986 GSS closed to new members since December 1995 WSS open since September 1993 and changed to an accumulation type scheme in July 2001 when benefits became determined by contributions made and the investment earnings on them. In addition, GESB administers the Parliamentary Superannuation Scheme and the Judges Pension Scheme on behalf of the Parliamentary Superannuation Board and the Treasurer respectively. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 5

6 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (continued) The Pension Scheme and GSS are both defined benefit schemes where members receive a benefit defined in the State Superannuation Act 2000 which is independent of investment returns (ie the investment risk and the liability for benefits payments rest with the government). Since July 2001, WSS has been an accumulation type scheme, where the benefits paid to members are the sum of their contribution, the government s Superannuation Guarantee contribution and the investment returns (less the costs of administration) on those contributions (ie the investment risk is with the member). What We Found Investment Management Administration of the investment process is effective, with well defined contractual arrangements and Service Level Agreements in place, which are complemented by systematic monitoring of investment managers. GESB s returns for most asset classes over the past three years were comparable with, or slightly above, established industry benchmarks. Benefits The examination found that GESB s system calculates benefits correctly and this is assured by a system of independent checks for all benefit calculations. Administration Costs GESB s administration costs are at the higher end when compared with other State public sector schemes in Australia. GESB s costs have increased substantially in recent years with the cost per member rising 45 per cent in the past three years. The increase, however, is mainly accounted for by the introduction of two large information technology (IT) initiatives to improve services and introduce new products. The cost escalation has been accentuated by the difficulties GESB has experienced in getting the IT systems fully operational. In addition, the introduction of new products and services such as Member Investment Choice (MIC), Retirement Access (RA) and Retirement Income (RI) has involved significant additional costs. The adoption of a five-year rolling average has moderated the increase in WSS fees paid by members that would have occurred over the past few years as a result of the rise in costs. However, it has also meant that WSS costs have not been fully recovered from members. Instead, since the introduction of MIC in July 2001, the shortfall has been funded through the minimum benefit guarantee reserve which was not established for this purpose. 6 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

7 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Processing of Contributions The accuracy and timeliness of contributions for a sample of WSS and GSS members were tested at five agencies. The testing showed that while the incidence of errors had improved significantly when compared with the situation found in the 2000 audit, it remains high with errors identified for 15 per cent of members tested for WSS and 22 per cent for GSS. This improvement is particularly beneficial for WSS members where benefits are directly affected. The impact of the errors, however, was not particularly significant, with an average annual error of $16 and $12 per WSS and GSS member per annum and ranging up to $171 for WSS members and $112 for GSS members per annum. Most of the errors for WSS resulted from agencies failing to remit contributions to GESB for manual adjustments such as those in relation to back pays. For GSS, errors were mainly due to agencies not adjusting members contribution rates on a timely basis. A large backlog of annual adjustments at the time of the 2000 audit meant that accumulated underpayments by members had built up to $4.5 million. The arrears had reduced to $2 million in 2003, but remain well over the Board s target of $1 million. The examination also found that GESB had built up $2.3 million in contribution advances by September 2003 as a result of contribution overpayments by members. These additional contributions need to be returned to members. GESB s Relationship with Government The change of the WSS to an accumulation type scheme in July 2001 fundamentally changed government s responsibilities and obligations to members. It also introduced potentially significant changes to the role and responsibilities of GESB. The existing oversight arrangements, where the Minister for Government Enterprises and the Treasurer share aspects of responsibility for GESB, have been proven over time to be adequate in an environment where benefits were defined (as with the Pension Scheme, GSS and the pre July 2001 WSS) and the investment returns were underwritten by government. Since the move of the now predominant WSS to an accumulation based scheme, where benefits are significantly affected by investment returns as well as administration approaches and associated costs, a new oversight regime seems warranted. Into the future, members can be expected to hold GESB accountable for investment returns and the cost implications of administration approaches. In these circumstances, the approach to oversight of GESB should be reviewed to ensure appropriate arms length arrangements are in place. These arrangements should provide appropriate regulatory oversight, and prudential standards. They should also transparently protect both government s and members interests. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 7

8 Public Sector Superannuation GESB Managed Superannuation Schemes GESB administers the bulk of State public sector superannuation funds. At December 31, 2003, it managed an investment portfolio of $3.7 billion and there were members. GESB s activities are governed by the State Superannuation Act 2000 and under this Act it manages three main superannuation schemes: the Pension Scheme GSS WSS It also administers the Parliamentary Superannuation Scheme and the Judges Pension Scheme on behalf of the Parliamentary Superannuation Board and the Treasurer respectively. The size, nature and status of the three main schemes are outlined in Figure 1. Scheme Number of Members (at December 31, 2003) Contributing Pensioners/ Preserved Gross Accrued Benefits (at June 30, 2003) $ Billion Type of Scheme Open or Closed to New Members Pension Scheme Defined Benefit (Lifetime Pension) Closed to new members since 1986 Gold State Super Defined Benefit (Lump Sum) Closed to new members since December 1995 West State Super Defined Benefit (Lump Sum) to June 30, 2001 Accumulation (Lump Sum) since July 1, 2001 Open since September 1993 (Backdated to July 1992) Figure 1: Size, nature and status of three main schemes Source: GESB 8 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

9 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION The three main schemes fall into two types: Defined Benefit Schemes the Pension Scheme and GSS are defined benefit schemes. Under these types of schemes, members receive a benefit defined in the relevant legislation, which is independent of investment returns. For the Pension Scheme, the benefit is based on a proportion (approximately 61 per cent) of the member s salary at retirement (aged 60) and is paid as an indexed fortnightly pension for life. For GSS, the benefit is paid as a lump sum on retirement, defined as a multiple of the member s final average salary (20 per cent of the final average salary for each year of membership provided the member s contribution is five per cent of salary). Accumulation Schemes WSS, since July 1, 2001, has been an accumulation type scheme. Under this type of scheme, the benefits paid to members are the total of their own contributions, the employer s contribution and the accumulated return earned on the investment of those funds (less administration costs). Prior to July 1, 2001, WSS was effectively a defined benefit scheme with a guaranteed return based on the increase in the Perth Consumer Price Index plus two per cent. Changing Superannuation Environment Over the past decade, there has been a marked change in the nature of the State government s superannuation schemes and the environment in which they operate. The implementation of the Commonwealth Government s Retirement Income Policy in the early 1990s stimulated the growth of the superannuation industry, particularly in the private sector. It also resulted in greater regulation of the superannuation industry through the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act) and the establishment of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). A 1996 Heads of Government Agreement between the States and the Commonwealth exempts the GESB schemes from these Acts, provided they conform to the principles of the Australian Retirement Incomes Policy. The GESB schemes currently broadly comply with these. Following the introduction of the Commonwealth s Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992, the government in September 1993 opened the WSS scheme, as an accumulation type lump sum scheme. Since July 1, 2001, with the introduction of market linked returns through Member Investment Choice (MIC), members have been able to choose any one of five investment options linked to different risk approaches. The options are growth, balanced, conservative, cash or MY Plan (a personally chosen mix of each of the asset classes). Recognising that WSS is akin to the schemes offered in the private sector, GESB now provides more superannuation services and products for members and retirees. These include regular retirement seminars for those nearing retirement as well as an allocated pension scheme (Retirement Income) and a draw down facility (Retirement Access) for retirees. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 9

10 PUBLIC SECTOR SUPERANNUATION (continued) In the future, even greater choice for employees may be possible. For example, the Federal Government has reintroduced legislation to Commonwealth Parliament which allows employees greater flexibility in choosing which superannuation funds to belong to (Choice of Fund) and increased portability to move between funds. Administrative Process for Public Sector Superannuation GESB s administrative process is illustrated in Figure 2. G E S B Employer / Employee Contributions and Data Employer Agencies Data Return Reports and GSS Employer Contributions Invoices Employer / Employee Contributions and Data Electronic Data Exchange System GSS WSS Retirement Access and Retirement Income Member Accounts in Capital Benefit Payments Retired Member Funding for Employer Contributions Return of GSS Unfunded Agency Employer Contributions Funds to Invest Investment Returns less Fees and Charges Department of Treasury and Finance Fund Manager INVESTMENTS Figure 2: GESB s Administrative Process Source: OAG The process entails: employer agencies sending periodic contributions and data to GESB contributions being invested by investment managers consistent with the government s investment guidelines the allocation of investment returns to WSS member accounts after deducting fees and charges the processing and payment of member benefits. 10 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

11 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Administration of Investment Management Findings GESB s investment performance over the last three years is considered satisfactory having been comparable with, or slightly above, established benchmarks for most asset classes. GESB has sound investment processes and its investments are carried out by an experienced and specialist investment team. The investment oversight structure enables it to make investment decisions in the context of clear and detailed investment policies and procedures. Performance is benchmarked against standard investment index indicators. The structure for monitoring the performance of the investment managers and the Master Custodian is sound. Some improvements to reporting, however, could be made. Recommendations GESB should: develop, in consultation with the Master Custodian, customised quarterly performance reports that specifically address the key elements of the Service Level Agreement. ensure that compliance reports are provided on time. consider establishing an investment sub-committee of the Board. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 11

12 ADMINISTRATION OF INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT (continued) Introduction The examination considered how well the investment managers appointed by GESB are controlled and monitored and, in particular: investment performance compliance with investment policies the systematic monitoring of investment managers and the Master Custodian. Investment Outcomes Over the last three years, GESB s returns (Figure 3) for most asset classes were comparable with, or slightly above, established benchmarks. Sector GESB % Return Benchmark % Return GESB % Return Benchmark % Return GESB % Return Benchmark % Return Cash/Liquidity (a) Fixed Interest (a) Inflation Linked Bonds (a) Property (b) Australian Equities (c) International Equities (d) Listed property (c) Figure 3: GESB s Investment Returns for Various Asset Classes Notes: Benchmarks used are: (a) (b) (c) (d) UBS Warburg Index AMP Balanced Property Index S&P/ASX300 Index International Equity Benchmark Source: GESB Annual Reports 12 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

13 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Investment Oversight Structure GESB s investment oversight structure enables it to make investment decisions based on clear and detailed investment policies and procedures. It uses sound investment administration processes with investment performance monitored against benchmarks. In addition, investments are carried out by an experienced and specialist investment team. GESB contracts 16 specialist investment managers to undertake its investments and manages their performance through Investment Management Agreements. TREASURER Master Custody Agreement GESB Investment Guidelines and Investment Manager Appointments Asset Management Agreement ASSET CONSULTANT MASTER CUSTODIAN Investment Management Agreement 16 INVESTMENT MANAGERS Figure 4: Investment Oversight Structure Source: OAG The overall investment approach by GESB is governed by the Treasurer s Investment Guidelines required under the State Superannuation Act. In addition, GESB has established a well defined and extensive structure to appoint, oversee and manage the investment managers (see Figure 4). This includes appointing: a Master Custodian to oversee the investment transactions made by the investment managers and to advise it on their performance. This is in line with industry practice. an Asset Consultant to help in the formulation of investment policy as well as the selection and performance monitoring of the investment managers. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 13

14 ADMINISTRATION OF INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT (continued) One difference between GESB and comparable superannuation funds is that it does not have an investment sub-committee of the Board to oversee its investments. Consequently, investment policy, strategy setting and performance monitoring are being overseen by the full Board. Considering the growth in the size of the funds being invested and the introduction of new investment products, the Board might reconsider whether a smaller specialist Board Committee could enhance its deliberations in this specialist area. Monitoring Compliance with the Investment Strategy While GESB s investment management structure is considered sound, some areas for improvement were identified. The main element of the investment strategy is the long-term allocation of assets between broad asset classes (International equities, Australian equities, cash, property etc). This allocation has a major impact on the risk and return profile of the various superannuation schemes GESB administers. The role of appointed investment managers is to obtain the best return they can (consistent with their mandates) from the investment of their allocated portion of GESB s assets. The approach taken in determining the investment strategy is outlined in Figure 5. Set Investment Objectives Develop Investment Strategies Design Investment Manager Configuration for Implementation of Objectives Select Investment Managers Mandate Investment Managers Monitor Investment Managers and Assess Performance Figure 5: Investment Strategy Process Source: GESB 14 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

15 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION GESB monitors the objectives and strategies for investment of its assets, with the assistance of both the Asset Consultant and the Master Custodian who reports to the Board monthly on the performance of the investment managers and their compliance with investment objectives. The performance of the Master Custodian is in turn monitored by GESB through the Master Custody Agreement and an accompanying Service Level Agreement, which contains detailed targets for the Master Custodian s services. The Master Custodian is required by the Service Level Agreement to provide quarterly reports to the Board on performance of key indicators against agreed service levels. A review of the reports provided by the Master Custodian for the December 2002 and December 2003 quarters indicated that they did not specifically relate to the agreed service levels, thereby reducing their value as a means of assisting GESB to assess the performance of the Master Custodian. Since the commencement of this examination, GESB has started to review the performance indicators contained in the current service level agreement. As a further control, all investment managers are required to comply with a number of policies and prudential guidelines regarding investments. These requirements are set out in their individual Investment Management Agreements. The agreements require all investment managers to provide monthly compliance certificates and reconciliation statements within 15 business days of each month to assure that they comply. A review of certifications for all investment managers, from December 2002 to February 2004, indicated that GESB could seek better timeliness of the certifications. For example, one investment manager remitted certificates late in 10 of the 15 months. Similarly, another investment manager submitted reconciliations late for 10 of the 15 months and a third was late in seven months by up to as much as 30 days. The remaining investment managers were found to be satisfactory. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 15

16 Cost of Administering the Schemes Findings GESB s administration costs are now at the higher end when compared with other State public sector schemes in Australia. GESB s cost per member has increased by 45 per cent over the past three years. The increases primarily reflects the costs of introducing new systems and products as well as the high ongoing costs associated with the implementation of two IT systems introduced in and GESB does not fully recover the cost of services provided to government and employer agencies. While WSS fees have increased in recent years, they still do not recover all costs. Shortfalls in the recovery of WSS costs, since the introduction of Member Investment Choice (MIC) in July 2001, should have been allocated to a general WSS reserve and not to the Minimum Benefit Guarantee Reserve which was not established for this purpose. Recommendations GESB should contain its administration costs by: Improving its project management of new products and services, particularly addressing the large number of service requests and functional changes required for the new IT systems. Establishing, in consultation with the Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF) and employer agencies, the responsibility for costs of services provided which do not relate directly to the provision of member benefits. GESB should improve its cost and pricing strategies by: Developing a fee strategy to fully recover costs for WSS. Ensuring the Minimum Benefit Guarantee Reserve is only used to cover the risk associated with the minimum guarantee, as specified in the government s July 2001 decision. 16 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

17 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION How Do GESB s Administration Costs Compare With Other Schemes Although it is difficult to directly compare costs across different superannuation funds, the available data indicates that GESB s total administration costs per member are at the higher end when compared with other State public sector schemes in Australia. This reflects both the sharp increase in GESB s costs in recent years as well as the additional services it provides to government compared with the other schemes. Comparative studies in which GESB has participated also point to its costs being at the higher end compared with similar funds, though interpretation of these studies should also take into account the difficulties of comparisons of different schemes. For example, a 2002 benchmark analysis, which compared GESB with other Australian and International superannuation funds, indicated that its administration costs were higher than the other funds reviewed. Similarly, GESB s actuary in 2003, noted that while it is diffi cult to draw fi rm conclusions WSS appears to have a higher cost structure than its peers in other States. Rising Administration Costs GESB s total administration costs per member have increased by 45 per cent over the last three years, from $75 in to $109 in (see Figure 6). The increase over this period has been substantially higher than other public sector schemes in Australia. For example, administration costs per member rose by 28 per cent in South Australia and eight per cent in New South Wales over the same period. The cost increases have resulted largely from systems improvements, including the introduction of two new large IT systems to bring GESB s administration and member services up to market standard. They have also reflected the costs associated with the introduction of new products and services such as Retirement Access and Retirement Income. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 17

18 COST OF ADMINISTERING THE SCHEMES (continued) Dollars per member GESB Qsuper NSW Super SA Financial Year Figure 6: Total Administration Cost per Member Note: Victoria not included as its accumulation scheme is now operated as a private company. Source: Various Annual Reports GESB s direct IT costs have increased by about a third over the past three years to $4.3 million in GESB s actuary has pointed out that it has a greater commitment to technology costs than other superannuation providers. This was supported by a benchmarking analysis conducted on behalf of GESB, which indicated that GESB s IT costs per active member were $83.70 compared to a peer average of $49.20 for The increases have been accentuated by the high costs associated with the difficulties GESB has had in getting the systems fully operational: Superannuation Services System The examination identified a large number of service requests for changes and amendments to this system since it was established in From to , there were service requests, requiring hours of work at a total cost to date of $3.6 million. Financial Management Information System (FMIS) The FMIS system has also experienced implementation and operating difficulties since it began in July AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

19 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION These difficulties limited the functionality of the system in key areas, resulting in costly servicing and maintenance. The difficulties contributed to the qualification of the financial statements because of an ineffective bank reconciliation process. They also contributed to GESB not being able to produce its first listing of aged debtors until February These difficulties have significantly increased the cost of implementing the system, with the budgeted cost of $1.3 million increasing to $1.6 million for implementation and maintenance in In , support costs have contributed to costs being $ over a budget of $ West State Super Fees According to the most recent actuarial assessment, the fee structure for WSS does not cover the full cost of administration expenses which are levied against West State Superannuation assets. WSS pricing has been set on a rolling five-year forward estimate since to achieve cost recovery over the period for service to members including member protection. The rolling average has moderated the increase in WSS fees that would have occurred in recent years as a result of the rise in costs. However, it has also meant that WSS costs have not been recovered in recent years and are not expected to be fully recovered for at least another three years. These shortfalls have been accentuated by GESB s cost allocation model which GESB has advised inappropriately allocated government costs to scheme costs and has since been revised to separately identify these costs from WSS. The actuary has indicated that there was a shortfall in recovery of WSS expenses of $5.3 million, or 45 per cent of the total administration cost of $11.7 million, for , and a further $3 million shortfall, or 24 per cent of the total administration cost of $10.5 million, in (see Figure 7). These shortfalls, in addition to various reserve transfers (eg investment earnings, insurance and interest accruals), were allocated to the Minimum Benefit Guarantee Reserve. This reserve, ($33.4 million at June 30, 2003) was created in July 2001 to preserve the then surplus of $46 million in investment earnings over the funds required to meet the then minimum benefit guarantee (of CPI plus two per cent) at the point when the basis of benefits calculations changed. The preservation of this surplus in this reserve was approved by government in July 2001 specifically to provide against the risk of payouts to members, who were subject to the guarantee, being greater than the amounts in their accounts at the time they exit the scheme. It was not established as a general WSS reserve. The Board has decided to undertake a strategic pricing review for the budget. Further, following this examination, GESB has advised that it will create a separate reserve for the financial statements. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 19

20 COST OF ADMINISTERING THE SCHEMES (continued) Million 14 Dollars Cost Fees Financial Year Figure 7: WSS Fees vs Costs Source: GESB Services to Government GESB provides a range of services (see Figure 8) to government and employer agencies. The total cost of the services was $3.2 million in and $3.7 million in At present, the costs are not recouped from government, apart from the cost of administering the Judges Pension and Parliamentary Superannuation schemes ($ in and $ in ). Government ($2.8 million in ) Ministerial support and advice (Minister for Government Enterprises) collection of GSS equivalent contributions on behalf of DTF administration of the Parliamentary Superannuation and Judges Pension schemes administration and update of the State Superannuation Act 2000 other services as directed or requested Employer Agencies ($0.9 million in ) education and training support agency data reviews Figure 8: Services provided to government and employer agencies Source OAG 20 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

21 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Processing of Contributions and Benefits Findings The incidence of errors in contributions has improved compared with audit findings in 2000, but remains high at 15 per cent for WSS and 22 per cent for GSS. The impact of the error rates on individual members, however, is not substantial with an average annual error of $16 and $12 per WSS and GSS member. Most of the errors in contributions data resulted from manual adjustments for back pay for WSS members and agencies failing to take up adjustments to contribution rates on a timely basis for GSS. Agencies were not consistently forwarding contributions to GESB on a timely basis as required by the State Superannuation Regulations. GESB s system calculates benefits correctly. GESB does not have documented policies and procedures specifically governing the collection, recording, use and disclosure of Tax File Number information. Recommendations GESB and employer agencies should: work together to streamline the processing, and improve the accuracy and timeliness, of contributions. Improvement is required particularly in relation to manual adjustments for WSS and the take up of contribution rate adjustments for GSS. GESB should: document specific policies and procedures on Tax File Number information. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 21

22 PROCESSING OF CONTRIBUTIONS AND BENEFITS (continued) The Need for Accurate and Timely Contributions and Benefits Correctly calculated employee and employer contributions are necessary to ensure that employee benefits are calculated accurately and for government to accurately assess both its annual cost and long-term liability for superannuation. Similarly, contributions should be transferred to GESB promptly so that it can invest the funds and earn an appropriate return for members, under WSS, and government, under GSS. Contributions Employer agencies are required to deduct GSS contributions from members salaries and remit them to GESB (together with the data for GESB to update the members accounts) each fortnight. In addition, each fortnight agencies are required to pay employer contributions. For GSS, these are based on invoices issued by GESB using data provided by the agencies. For WSS, employer agencies forward contributions based on the nine per cent compulsory contributions rate set under the Commonwealth Superannuation Guarantee legislation. Accuracy To assess accuracy of contributions, the examination reviewed fortnightly contributions data for for an indicative sample of members from both the WSS and GSS schemes from five agencies. A similar audit of superannuation contributions in 2000 (Report No 1, April 2000) highlighted that, for WSS, there was an unacceptably high error rate in calculating employee contributions. It also highlighted that GESB had a backlog of adjustments causing substantial contribution arrears of $4.5 million in April Since the 2000 audit, the State Superannuation Act 2000 was passed. This Act requires employer agencies to take prime responsibility for ensuring the accuracy of the data and GESB to take reasonable steps to ensure the data forwarded is accurate. Accordingly GESB has provided review and advice to agencies including: endeavouring to fully review each agency at least annually to provide assurance that each agency s data is reported correctly providing agencies with specialist advice and assistance in superannuation matters, when requested introducing Employer Service Promise Agreements with agencies. These agreements are viewed by GESB as a commitment for services it provides to agencies rather than mutual service level agreements. 22 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

23 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION As a result, the accuracy of contributions has improved since the 2000 audit, particularly for WSS. Testing of transactions in five agencies, however, found error rates of 15 per cent for WSS members and 22 per cent for GSS members. While this incidence is still high, the size of the errors was not large, with an annual average of $16 and $12 per member for WSS and GSS members respectively, ranging up to $171 for WSS and $112 for GSS per member per transaction. Most of the WSS errors resulted from agencies failing to remit contributions to GESB for manual salary related payments for back pay. For GSS, errors were mainly due to agencies not adjusting members contribution rates on a timely basis because either they had not been informed by GESB or they did not make the change after they had been notified by GESB. Only two of the 14 agencies [the Department of Health (Women s and Children s Health Service) and the WA Police Service] were ensuring that invoices issued by GESB for the payment of employer contributions for GSS members were accurate, valid and complete before forwarding contributions to GESB. GSS contribution arrears have also improved, falling from $4.5 million in 1998 to $2 million (less an allowance of around $0.5 million to reflect arrears that are specifically allowed, such as approved leave without pay) in December Nevertheless, this is still significantly above the target of $1 million set by the Board in A further issue identified was a build up in GSS contribution advances (to $2.3 million at September 2003) with no process to record and return the overpayments. GESB has advised that it has now set a target to clear all advances over $500 by June 30, Timeliness of Contributions Agencies should send data and contributions to GESB within the seven day period required for WSS members so that they are not financially disadvantaged by undue delays in investing their contributions. For both WSS and GSS, agencies were not forwarding contributions on a timely basis due to their failure to process payments on a timely basis. In the case of WSS, 10 of the 14 agencies reviewed were not remitting fortnightly contributions on time. This amounted to $8.3 million out of a total of $134.7 million in WSS contributions between July 2002 and April On average, for the 10 agencies, there was a difference of 11 days between the payment of contributions and the sending of data to GESB. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 23

24 PROCESSING OF CONTRIBUTIONS AND BENEFITS (continued) Benefits Audit testing confirmed that GESB s system calculates benefits correctly and this is assured by a reliable system of checks for all benefit calculations. Tax File Numbers (TFNs) GESB does not have documented policies and procedures specific to the collection, recording, use and disclosure of TFN information notwithstanding the existence of serious penalties for the misuse of this information. The Privacy Act 1988 requires employer agencies to establish internal management systems to ensure that TFN information is held securely and can only be accessed by authorised personnel. GESB has advised that it is now documenting an overall policy regarding the privacy aspects of TFN information. 24 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

25 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Relationship with Government Finding The change of the predominant WSS to an accumulation type benefits scheme warrants a reappraisal of the approach to government oversight of GESB. Recommendation The oversight regime should be reviewed to ensure arrangements are appropriate to protecting both government s and members interests in an environment where benefits are now effectively dependent on investment returns and administrative cost effectiveness. AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 25

26 RELATIONSHIP WITH GOVERNMENT (continued) Changing Environment Since the establishment of GESB, in 1987, as the manager of government s superannuation schemes, government has been the employer of GESB s members, as well as being the owner and prudential overseer of GESB s operations. These multiple roles were appropriate when all schemes were defined benefit schemes where the investment risks and the liability for members benefits rested with government. Following the introduction of MIC in July 2001, the minimum guarantee was removed and WSS became an accumulation type scheme, under which members receive a market return on the investment of their own and the employer contributions. Members, rather than government, now bear the investment risk, and, since July 2001, government no longer has an ongoing liability for a specific level of benefits. As a consequence, the regulatory framework should be reviewed to ensure there is appropriate protection, particularly for WSS members. In the private sector, this protection is generally provided by a clear separation between employers, funds management and the prudential supervision by APRA. Government s Current Relationship with GESB Now that WSS has become an accumulation type scheme, government s role needs to become one of protecting members interests (rather than its own as is the case for defined benefit schemes). Further, GESB s role should be clearly to act in the interests of members as trustee (rather than both government and members as is the case for defined benefit schemes). Government s Role At present, government fills a number of roles in its relationship with GESB as employer, owner and regulator: as employer it provides its employer contributions (through the employer agencies) to GESB, for WSS, for GESB to invest on behalf of members. as owner the owner role is performed on behalf of the government by the responsible Minister (currently the Minister for Government Enterprises). This role is specified in the State Superannuation Act 2000 as being to: provide directions on the functions and powers of the Board develop policy on the State s superannuation arrangements ensure the accountability of GESB through its annual reporting process request information where necessary for Parliamentary purposes. 26 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

27 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION as regulator prudential oversight rests primarily with the Treasurer. The Act provides the Treasurer with the power to issue written prudential guidelines to GESB on: the information, advice and assistance to be provided by the Board investment the provision of other products and services undertaking actuarial investigations borrowings. The Treasurer also approves the appointment of investment managers. While, this regulatory approach is broadly consistent with that for Government Trading Enterprises, it has become less appropriate for GESB, at least in relation to WSS, since it has become an accumulation scheme. Government has taken some steps to separate the owner s role from the other two by creating a Government Enterprises portfolio and giving the Minister for Government Enterprises the owner s role. Previously, the Treasurer was responsible for both the regulator and owner roles. In practice, however, much of the owner surveillance and prudential oversight is actually undertaken by the Department of Treasury and Finance, which provides advice on GESB to both the Minister and the Treasurer (See Figure 9). MINISTER Advice TREASURY AND FINANCE Advice TREASURER Supervision GESB Policy Advice Regular Liaison Advice Guidelines on financial transactions Figure 9: Government Oversight of GESB Source: OAG AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 27

28 RELATIONSHIP WITH GOVERNMENT (continued) The regulator role is further blurred by the fact that GESB itself undertakes some policy and regulatory activities. For example, GESB provides policy advice to government generally on superannuation arrangements a role that has been separated from superannuation service providers in the Commonwealth and most other State public sector schemes. Further, it performs the assessment of the State s compliance with the Heads of Government Agreement. GESB s Role Under the present arrangements, GESB is accountable to government as well as to members. As a consequence, GESB provides policy advice to government on the State s superannuation arrangements and is involved in some regulatory activity as well as its administering and investing activities for members. The dual accountability potentially constrains GESB s ability to act fully in the interests of its WSS members. Two examples are: Investments the State Superannuation Act 2000 requires GESB to invest only in assets that are approved by the Treasurer. Comparable private sector superannuation providers would only need to obtain approval from the responsible internal decision-makers (eg The Board, Trustee or Investment committee). APRA provides guidance, but not direction, on investments. Products and Services the State Superannuation Act 2000 also requires the Minister s and Treasurer s approval for products and services (eg Retirement Access) that GESB offers to members. While this was clearly appropriate in a defined benefit environment (where the investment return only impacted the government), under the current accumulation type regime it would be prudent to also specifically address the rights and interests of members as investment risk and related returns directly affect the ultimate level of benefits. The constraints on GESB s ability to act clearly in the interests of WSS members, its dual accountability and the extent of government involvement in its activities create a risk of members having recourse to government for deficient administration and investment practices. This is guarded against in the private sector through a clear separation between the fund manager, or trustee (which manages the funds on behalf of members), the employers (which generally have no direct involvement in the fund once their employer contribution has been paid) and the regulation of the industry (which is the responsibility of APRA and ASIC). Most other States have reviewed the administrative arrangements for their schemes in recent years. As a consequence, New South Wales and Victoria have moved to adopt separate arrangements for their accumulation and defined benefit schemes. New South Wales has set up its accumulation scheme under a separate trustee arrangement from its defined benefit schemes while Victoria has established a company to act as trustee for its accumulation scheme. Queensland (which has reviewed its scheme) and South Australia and Tasmania (which haven t reviewed their schemes) still have a single entity for their schemes. 28 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

29 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Appendix Examination Approach The examination reviewed GESB s administration and all aspects of the superannuation schemes other than insurance. This included reviewing: GESB s performance in: terms of the timeliness and accuracy of collecting, verifying (compared with the findings of the April 2000 audit) and processing contributions received from employer agencies and payment of benefits to members managing investment fund managers the accuracy and timeliness of contributions paid to GESB by a sample of five agencies the relationship between GESB and the Department of Treasury and Finance and employer agencies. The examination approach included: background research interviews, reviewing agency files, and data analysis at GESB interviews and reviews of agency controls at a sample of 10 agencies and four Health Services: Department of Conservation and Land Management Department of Culture and the Arts Disability Services Commission Department of Consumer and Employment Protection Department of Land Administration Department for Planning and Infrastructure Department of Education and Training Department of Health: East Metropolitan Health Service North Metropolitan Health Service South Metropolitan Health Service Women s and Children s Health Service Central Office (Royal Street) AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 29

30 APPENDIX (continued) Department of Justice Western Australian Police Service analysis of contributions data for 100 WSS members and 50 GSS members at: Department of Justice Department of Education and Training Department of Conservation and Land Management Department of Culture and the Arts Department of Health (Women s and Children s Health Service) interviews and reviewing agency files at the Department of Treasury and Finance. 30 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

31 ADMINISTRATION OF SUPERANNUATION Previous Reports of the Auditor General 2000 Public Sector Performance Report 2000 Emerging Issues Management Control Issues April 5, 2000 Report on the Western Australian Public Health Sector and of Other Ministerial Portfolio Agencies for 1999 April 5, 2000 A Means to an End Contracting Not-For-Profit Organisations for the Delivery of Community Services June 14, 2000 Private Care for Public Patients A Follow-on Examination of the Joondalup Health Campus Contract June 21, 2000 Report on Western Australian Public Universities and TAFE Colleges 1999 Annual Reporting Cycle June 21, 2000 Bus Reform: Further down the road A follow-on examination into competition reform of Transperth bus services June 28, 2000 Surrender Arms? Firearm Management in Western Australia September 13, 2000 Second Public Sector Performance Report 2000 Administration of Legislation Financial and Management Control Issues October 11, 2000 A Tough Assignment Teacher Placements in Government Schools October 18, 2000 Report on Ministerial Portfolio at December 1, 2000 Summary of Audit Results Accountability Issues (Corporate Governance, Accounting for GST Transitional Loan) December 20, Sale of the Gas Corporation s Businesses (Special Report) February 14, 2001 On-line and Length? Provision and Use of Learning Technologies in Government schools May 23, 2001 Implementing and Managing Community Based Sentences May 30, 2001 Public Sector Performance Report, 2001 Administration of Legislation Financial and Management Control Issues Follow-up Examination June 20, 2001 Report on Public Universities and TAFE Colleges 2000 annual reporting cycle June 20, 2001 Lifting the Rating: Stroke Management in Western Australia August 22, 2001 Good Housekeeping: Facilities Management of Government Property and Buildings August 29, 2001 Second Public Sector Performance Report 2001 Management, Compliance and Control Issues Follow-up Performance Examinations September 19, 2001 Righting the Wrongs: Complaints Management in the Western Australian Public Sector October 17, 2001 Third Public Sector Performance Report 2001 Appointment and Use of Contract Staff Management of Mobile Phones in Government Ombudsman s Statistics and Complaints Automated Register Project The Perth Convention Centre November 7, 2001 Life Matters: Management of Deliberate Self-Harm in Young People November 28, 2001 First Byte: Consortium IT Contracting in the Western Australian Public Sector December 5, 2001 Report on Ministerial Portfolios at November 30, 2001 Summary of Audit Results Accounting and Contemporary Issues Summary Results of Agency Audits December 19, 2001 AUDITOR GENERAL FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA 31

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