About the Auditor-General

Annual report 2004-05.

The Controller and Auditor-General (the Auditor-General) is an Officer of Parliament. His mandate and responsibilities are set out in the Public Audit Act 2001.

The Auditor-General is independent of executive government and Parliament in discharging the functions of the statutory office, but is answerable to Parliament for his stewardship of the public resources entrusted to him.

Parliament seeks independent assurance that public sector organisations are operating, and accounting for their performance in accordance with Parliament’s intentions. There is also a need for independent assurance in local government – local authorities are accountable to the public for the activities they fund through locally raised revenue. As an Officer of Parliament, the Auditor-General provides this independent assurance to both Parliament and the public.

The Auditor-General’s staff are organised into 2 business units – the Office of the Auditor- General (OAG), and Audit New Zealand (Audit NZ).

The OAG undertakes strategic audit planning, sets policy and standards, appoints auditors and oversees their performance, carries out performance audits, provides reporting and advice to Parliament, and undertakes inquiries and other special studies.

Audit NZ is the operating arm, and carries out annual audits allocated by the Auditor- General. It also provides other assurance services to public entities, within the Auditor- General’s mandate and in accordance with the Auditor-General’s Auditing Standard relating to the independence of auditors.

The Auditor-General also engages private sector auditing firms (Audit Service Providers) to carry out his statutory functions in relation to public entities.

Size and scale of operations

The Auditor-General has a statutory duty to conduct an audit of the financial reports of about 4,000 public entities.1 The OAG undertakes about 15 performance audits each year, and responds to between 150 and 300 enquiries each year from taxpayers, ratepayers, and Members of Parliament (MPs). A few of these enquiries lead to the Auditor-General undertaking a major inquiry.

The OAG also provides reports and advice to Select Committees and portfolio Ministers.

There are about 140 reports prepared for financial reviews of entities and Estimates examinations, and about 120 reports on the results of annual financial report audits.

The OAG also administers the provisions of the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968. There are 80-100 enquiries each year in relation to this Act.

Our current capability

As at 30 June 2005, we employed 244 staff, based in 9 locations throughout New Zealand. We also engaged 61 external Audit Service Providers, as well as the Audit NZ staff, to carry out annual audits of public entities.

In 2004-05, we received revenue of $43.5 million – $8.2 million from Crown revenue and $35.3 million from audited entities.

1: Under the Public Audit Act 2001, the Auditor-General is the auditor of every public entity, and the entities they control.