Auditor-General's overview and strategic direction

Statement of Intent 2012–2015.

I am pleased to submit this Statement of Intent 2012–2015.

New Zealand continues to "dig deep" to overcome the effects of the tragic Canterbury earthquakes and the weak global economic environment. The country's response to tough times has strengthened the spirit of community within us and highlighted the risks and opportunities for our country's future.

We are fortunate to live in a country where we can openly discuss what we want for our future and the choices we will need to make to have that future. This will be particularly important to the public sector during the next few years as changing needs and increased pressure on the public purse demand a fundamental shift in the way that public services are delivered and public assets are managed.

This is a time for recovery and rebuilding – not simply in Canterbury in a physical sense. It is also a time for New Zealand to make smart choices about the future and to focus on effective, efficient, and sustainable practices.

We all want New Zealand to continue to be a strong and successful country and a great place for our children to live. Our ability to adapt cleverly to the challenges from within and without is the key to that ongoing strength and success. My Office intends to use its full range of resources to provide assurance and insight about the public sector in ways that will contribute to building a strong future.

Theme for 2012/13 work programme

Our work during 2012/13 will focus on the theme Our future needs – is the public sector ready?

We chose this theme after seeking input and ideas from a wide range of people inside and outside our Office about the work we could do to make a lasting difference for New Zealanders.

Our future needs – is the public sector ready? reflects widespread recognition that public services need to change and adapt to help build a future we want. The public sector is already responding to calls to deliver better public services for less and to transform the ways that assets are managed and services are delivered.

My Office is in a unique position to take a view of the whole public sector and to explore issues that are important to our future through this theme-focused audit work programme. We will use all of the Auditor-General's auditing and reporting powers, and draw on expertise from the public sector and from the academic, non-governmental, and private sector communities.

Our work will include looking at the roles and responsibilities of those working to rebuild Christchurch, and funding and procurement matters, including monitoring of expenditure and insurance. Other topics we are considering include education for Māori children, health needs, the implications of our ageing population, the justice supply chain, asset management, and long-term planning.

During our work on the theme, my Office will consider its own effectiveness and efficiency, and how we can best add value to the public sector and New Zealand in future.

Ongoing development

Our focus on the future will also include monitoring ongoing development under the five previous themes that we have been working on during the past two years:

  1. the local government reorganisation in Auckland;
  2. performance reporting;
  3. analysis and reporting of sector information (sector knowledge);
  4. changes to financial reporting standards (and, more broadly, auditing standards and regulation of auditors); and
  5. adding value through our almost 4000 annual audits, inquiries, and performance audits.

We continue to make good progress with our work in Auckland and on performance reporting. We recorded the lessons we learned from our auditing and other work during the amalgamation of eight local authorities in Auckland. This will help the process if local government is reorganised in other parts of New Zealand.

Our work to improve performance reporting includes new ways of sharing collective knowledge and experience within the public sector through workshops and an online space for a group of public entities to share their experiences. It is now timely for us to consider what other information we can provide to help assess performance.

We continue to improve our understanding of public entities' environments, businesses, and risks, and to use this better understanding to create new ways of adding value to the public sector. For example, we made direct contact with users of public services in a series of hui to discuss the results of our performance audit of housing on Māori land.

I remain committed to building on our improved understanding to carry out audit work that addresses the change in, and growing complexity of, the public sector and the higher expectations of the public.

Accounting and auditing standards

We have resumed our involvement in the process to set accounting standards and are keen to ensure the smooth adoption of new public benefit entity standards in New Zealand based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

Our international contribution

My Office continues to make a significant contribution to the international audit community, as part of our responsibility for, and commitment to, improving the standard of public sector auditing globally. For example, we have a key support role for public sector auditing in the Pacific and are involved in developing public sector accounting and auditing standards at an international level. I am pleased to say that our input is highly valued and respected by our overseas counterparts.

New strategy for 2013-17

We are currently working on a new Auditor-General's Strategy for 2013–17 to succeed the Auditor-General's Strategy 2009–12. We will implement the new strategy in 2013. The new strategy will take account of ongoing changes in the external environment and in the auditing and accounting professions.

Concluding comments

My Office is in good shape and good heart to meet the challenges ahead. We will continue to focus on adding value to the public sector through our audits and other work, and to contribute wherever we can to improving public sector performance to meet the country's changing needs.

I thank select committees for their consideration of my Draft statement of intent 2012–2015 and acknowledge their thanks for the opportunity to review and comment on it.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

9 May 2012

page top