Auditor-General's overview

Performance audits from 2008: Follow-up report.

The vision of my Office is that our audit and assurance work improves the performance of, and the public's trust in, the public sector. We aim to do this through giving independent assurance to Parliament, public entities, and the public about whether public entities are:

  • carrying out their activities effectively, efficiently, and appropriately;
  • using public funds wisely; and
  • reporting their performance appropriately.

One of the ways we do this is by carrying out performance audits and reporting on them. Our reports, and the recommendations made in them, identify ways in which public entities can improve their performance.

We evaluate the effect of our performance audits by following up on how the entities have responded to, and implemented, our recommendations. This report sets out the actions public entities have taken in response to the recommendations made in performance audit reports that we published during 2008. It also identifies where work is still needed by the relevant entities to implement our recommendations.

This report also allows us to reflect, as an Office, on the effectiveness of our performance audits and our recommendations. We use this information to improve our processes and increase the value of future performance audits.

Public entities decide whether they accept our recommendations and how to implement them. In most cases, public entities seek to make the improvements we suggest. In other cases, public entities adopt alternative approaches that address the issues underlying our recommendations. This is an appropriate response. There are occasions where an entity cannot implement our recommendations due to system constraints or where the passage of time or changes in circumstance means it no longer makes sense to implement the recommendations as we originally wrote them.

Entities sometimes disagree with our recommendations or do not give priority to implementing them. In these situations, it is up to the entity to explain to Parliament and the public why they have done this.

Overall, we are satisfied with the responses to the findings of the performance audit reports we completed during 2008. Of the 89 recommendations we made in those performance audits, 68% have been implemented or partially implemented, and another 24% are in the process of being implemented.

We are particularly pleased with the response from the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID) and the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation. We note the special interest that the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee took in our report on NZAID and NZAID's response to our recommendations. This interest contributed to a strong response to our recommendations by NZAID. The Ministry of Social Development has also responded well to our recommendations.

Our recommendations, and the entities' responses to these, have contributed to improvements in:

  • planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the services and activities carried out by the entities;
  • how data was collected and the use of this data to identify risk and improve service delivery;
  • data and information reporting;
  • providing resources and training to staff to help them carry out their roles more effectively;
  • specifying roles both within organisations and in inter-agency situations; and
  • prioritising work and risk management.

I expect that the information in this report will be helpful to Parliament and the public in holding public entities to account. It is important that such accountability is expected of the public entities we have audited.

I welcome comments from members of Parliament and the public on the usefulness of the information presented here, and guidance on what information they would like to see included in future reports of this nature.

If readers would like more information about the performance audits discussed in this report, the full text of each performance audit report is available on my Office's website –

I thank the staff of the public entities discussed in this report for their help in collating this information.

Signature - LP

L D Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

12 April 2010

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