The ACT government struggled to meet its hazard reduction targets in the months before the Orroral Valley fire tore through more than a third of the territory's land mass, new figures show.
The environment directorate's latest performance report showed that just 13 per cent of prescribed burns planned for 2019-20 were completed in the first half of this financial year.
It had hoped to complete 50 per cent of the yearly target by December 31.
The opposition said the government had been "slow to act" on bushfire risks, labeling the failure to meet the latest controlled burns target as "worrying".
But the government said the mid-year snapshot didn't tell the full story, including that hazard reduction work had to be "halted" this summer due to the outbreak of bushfires.
The report published last week also showed ACT Parks and Conservation completed just 13 per cent of all scheduled "access activities", which includes maintaining trails and access roads in bushfire-prone locations.
It also missed its target for the physical removal of fuels, although it did clear more land through the techniques of grazing and slashing than it had anticipated.
The directorate achieved 95 per cent of its bushfire preparation targets in the past financial year, however it failed to complete 25 per cent of controlled burns in that period.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has put hazard reduction at the centre of the federal government's response to the national bushfire crisis, arguing that reducing fuel loads was just as important as cutting carbon emissions in tackling fire threats.
Mr Morrison's proposed bushfire royal commission is set to examine national standards and reporting requirements for hazard reduction, which would put greater scrutiny on states and territories.
Opposition emergency services spokeswoman Giulia Jones said the low proportion of prescribed burns completed in the ACT in the past six months was "worrying".
She said the government needed to explain why it wasn't meeting its target for the physical removal of fuel loads, given that technique wasn't reliant on weather conditions.
"We are going through the toughest fire season in years and the bare minimum for government is to get through these targets," she said.
An ACT government spokesman sought to explain the mid-year results in an emailed statement late on Monday night.
The spokesman said the majority of prescribed burns were carried out in autumn, which explained why such a low proportion of this year's schedule had been completed. The snapshot also omitted work which was underway but had to be stopped after fires broke out, he said.
Fire chiefs across the country - including in the ACT - have blamed lengthening bushfire seasons and hotter and drier conditions for limiting opportunities to safely and effectively complete hazard reduction burns.
They have also warned that controlled burns were not the silver bullet to stopping, or even limiting, large-scale blazes.
The government spokesman put that position into a local context, saying prescribed burns had been carried out in a number of areas of Namadgi National Park which have since been burnt by the Orroral Valley fire.
"The advice from experts is that fuel load reduction cannot completely prevent bushfires during the extremely hot and dry conditions we've seen this season," the spokesman said.