Auditor-General's overview

Central government: Case studies in reporting forecast performance information.

Often, public entities ask my auditors and me to point out good examples of service performance reporting. They ask because they want to improve how they forecast and then report on their performance.

In response to these requests, we published in June 2009 excerpts of reporting practices that stood out from others, selected from the 2008-11 statements of intent and 2008/09 forecast statements of service performance of government departments and Crown entities.

This discussion paper expands on our 2009 publication by providing case studies of three public entities. We chose these three from among the public entities that received a "good" grade from their auditors for their service performance information and associated systems and controls.

Because there are so many readers and uses of information about how well a public entity is performing, an individual reader will always be able to identify information that could have been included in, or questions that are not answered by, a report. In my view, just as financial information sets out to meet the common needs of readers, a general-purpose report about an entity's performance should provide a basis for discussion and debate. We should not expect every question to be answered.

Importantly, the three public entities featured in this discussion paper have all communicated the complexity of their business challenges and their day-to-day operations in reports that are understandable for a range of readers. We have commented on the elements we liked as well as aspects that the entity could improve. Our suggested improvements are based on comparing the forecast performance information against our expectations of a "good performance story".

We hope that public entities will find these three case studies helpful in preparing their own forecast performance information.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

8 February 2011

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