Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo and Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Philip Gaetjens (Images: AAP)

While the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has methodically exposed major and often systemic flaws in administration within the public service, there's been a growing bureaucratic resistance to its scrutiny.

The resistance has been led by one of the public service's most senior figures, Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo, whose portfolio has been repeatedly humiliated by the exposure of major failings by the ANAO -- some of them, like the botched handling of the return to offshore processing under Labor, well before his arrival in the job, but most subsequent.

Departments are asked to respond to audits and their recommendations; agreeing to recommendations represents, in effect, a commitment to parliament by the government that the recommended action will be undertaken. Despite Home Affairs, in its various iterations, agreeing to nearly all of the recommendations made by the ANAO in its string of scathing audits, Pezzullo has repeatedly attacked the ANAO.