Part 4: Reporting on revenue assurance

New Zealand Customs Service: Providing assurance about revenue.

In this Part, we discuss:

Reports on revenue assurance work findings

Trade Assurance has good reporting on the findings of its revenue assurance work.

Trade Assurance measures and reports on the findings of its revenue assurance work. It does this by reporting on its performance to Customs senior managers and to the Minister of Customs, and by reporting on the results of individual field audits.

The performance reports we saw are clear and concise. They usually include the information we expected, including the number of field audits, the percentage of audits that are compliant, and the amount of additional revenue that the audits identified. We consider that the reporting on compliance is particularly useful because it shows how effective Customs' voluntary compliance regime is.

Field audit reports are usually clear. They identify whether an entity's results are acceptable, whether the entity owes any other customs revenue, and areas where the entity can better comply with requirements. In several instances the reports could have been improved by better identifying key findings in the management summary and/or identifying which Customs business unit is responsible for carrying out recommendations directed at Customs.

Checks to assess the quality of revenue assurance work

Trade Assurance has good checks to assess the quality of revenue assurance work. The checks form part of its systems for managing assurance work and cover the work that Trade Assurance does. It is clear when and how the formal checks are done, including who is accountable for them.

Checks include a Chief Customs Officer reviewing and signing off field audit reports and senior Trade Assurance staff further reviewing field audit reports when particular criteria are triggered. Trade Assurance checks some of each staff member's transaction audits.

Communicating the findings of revenue assurance work

Trade Assurance tells the Intelligence, Planning and Co-ordination and the Client Services business units about the results of field audits. When Trade Assurance staff identify potentially fraudulent behaviour, they consult the Fraud and Prohibitions business unit.

Staff from the Intelligence, Planning and Co-ordination; Client Services; and Fraud and Prohibitions business units told us that the information provided by Trade Assurance meets their needs.

Trade Assurance uses Customs' significant events reports process to tell managers about audits that identified significant business issues for Customs.

How Customs uses the results of revenue assurance work

Customs uses the results of revenue assurance work to collect additional customs revenue and seek improved trader compliance. Paragraphs 2.16-2.21 discuss the additional revenue that Customs collected.

In its audit report recommendations, Trade Assurance identifies when traders have not complied with, or could have better complied with, requirements. It writes to the traders identifying what they need to do to comply.

Trade Assurance uses the results of audits to help plan work in the year ahead. It refers to previous audits when planning a field audit of the same entity.

For traders, Client Services is the main face of Customs. Among other tasks, Client Services issues licences and permits for trading activities. It uses the results of Trade Assurance's work to understand whether traders are complying with requirements.

Fraud and Prohibitions uses work from Trade Assurance's field and transaction audits to investigate, and sometimes prosecute, traders suspected of fraud, including suspected evasion of customs revenue.

Intelligence, Planning and Co-ordination told us that information from audit reports is entered into CusMod and used as part of the pool of Customs' intelligence information. This allows for information to be continually passed between Intelligence, Planning and Coordination, and Trade Assurance.

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