Appendix : Outline of performance audits and studies contributing to our Service Delivery theme

Annual Plan 2013/14.
Delivering services in a digital environment

The Government's reliance on technology to deliver public services is increasing and likely to become fundamental in future. A programme of major developments in information and communication technology is under way to enable this future state. Our audit is designed to assess whether current design, delivery, and user experience of digital services is effective and efficient.
Client-focused service delivery

Public services are often delivered through "client-based management" and similar approaches. From the users' point of view, processes should not be overly bureaucratic and services should be accessible in a way that is appropriate to them and their needs.

We intend to carry out a performance audit to look at case management of key public services. The audit will focus on services delivered by the Ministry of Social Development and the Accident Compensation Corporation, and how these services relate to other public services. At this stage, we intend to consider questions including, but not limited to:
  • how easy the services are to access and use;
  • how "seamless" the services are for the users of the services, especially those at risk of falling between the provisions of several entities;
  • how the needs of vulnerable users are met; and
  • the effectiveness of the complaints procedures.
We intend to address these questions by looking at groups of service users, such as the Pacific Island community, Māori, youth, and other high users of services.
Service delivery through third parties

Some public services – especially social services – are mainly delivered by third parties. The Government is actively seeking to use third-party funding arrangements and service delivery models, so it is timely for us to consider how effectively and efficiently different arrangements with external parties are delivering various services to the public.

In particular, we will focus on the achievement of outcomes or results and how these are managed, measured, and reported. In this audit, we will look at:
  • the Whānau Ora programme. We are interested in how the Whānau Ora approach addresses social service delivery, with a focus on service-user involvement, outcomes from a service-user's perspective, and a family basis rather than an individual basis.
  • the allocation and provision of maternity services to families during pregnancy and after birth to improve the health outcomes for babies, children, and their mothers.
Education for Māori educational success (third report)

Many Māori students do not take part in education as well as they might; nor achieve as highly as they could. In 2012, we published a report Education for Māori: Context for our proposed audit work until 2017. This report set out the Auditor-General's intention to carry out a programme of work to examine how well the education system is serving Māori students.

We published a report on our first performance audit in that programme of work in May 2013 Education for Māori: Implementing Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success. Ka Hikitia is the strategy for Māori education. Our next performance audit in 2013/14 will focus on the partnerships and collaborative work between agencies, education providers, local iwi, Māori organisations, and parents/whānau to ensure quality delivery of education and services to Māori students.

The Auditor-General's Māori Advisory and Reference Group, comprised of eminent Māori education experts and representatives, will continue to advise the Office throughout the five-year Māori education audit programme.
Local government asset and service-level management

Local government has been reporting on major infrastructure assets, an essential element of local government services, since the early 1990s. This reporting has also coincided with the development of the discipline of asset management planning and a cycle of substantial reinvestment in existing asset systems. Our audit will seek to analyse and provide an overview of the life cycle maturity of the sector's assets, where and when the major reinvestments are required, and whether asset management practice is adequately keeping pace with the information needs of local authorities to manage service provision into the future.
Auckland Council – review of service performance

The Auckland Council legislation requires the Auditor-General to review and report on the Council's service performance. The Auckland Council funds that work.

In considering possible projects, we have taken account of the following principles, which reflect our understanding of the legislative intention of the review of service performance role:
  1. Review work should be focused on service delivery and quality;
  2. Review work should cover both Auckland Council and CCO activities;
  3. The activities of Watercare Services Limited should be addressed, particularly its accountability, transparency, and pricing practices; and
  4. Review work should be co-ordinated with the internal mechanisms of Auckland Council for the monitoring of substantive CCOs and assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of its own activities.
We will do two reviews with Auckland Council:
  • Watercare Services Limited and its customer services operations. This review will look at the operation of Watercare's contact centre, the introduction of monthly billing, and meter reading. The review may also look at Watercare's planning for the introduction of a standardised non-domestic wastewater tariff from 1 July 2014.
  • Auckland Council's building consent processes. The Auckland Unitary Plan and the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill identify that there will be a significant increase in the number of new homes built in the Auckland area. Our review will look at Auckland Council's readiness to process an increased number of building consent applications. Specifically, the review will look at workforce planning (including the use and monitoring of contractors), consent processes (including pre-application processes), information systems, and risk-based consenting aimed at improving services to Aucklanders.
Governance of council-controlled organisations

We will carry out work on CCO governance, as the local government sector has indicated interest in and support for such work.

The Auditor-General has an ongoing interest in the governance and accountability of CCOs and other subsidiaries, and how effectively they deliver services on behalf of local authorities. The number of such public entities has increased steadily, but there is little research or analysis available about the reasons for this or about how effective the entities are. In some instances, high-profile governance matters have raised questions of interest for local government as a whole.

Our aim is to report on how well the statutory framework for governance and accountability of local government subsidiaries is working, including:
  • accountability – who is accountable for CCOs and other subsidiaries;
  • alignment of strategic direction – how CCOs and other subsidiaries fit within the overall council strategy, and their awareness of that strategy and their role;
  • appointment of directors – including whether councillors and officers are appointed;
  • performance monitoring – including the value of the statement of intent framework and reporting, and oversight arrangements (for example, council committees and holding companies);
  • engagement and communication; and
  • formal and informal accountability mechanisms.
We will use case studies to report on common themes that arise, what is working well, and any issues or problems with the accountability and governance framework. As part of this work, we will look at how many CCOs and other subsidiaries there are, what they do, and (for the larger entities) their financial performance and how they are contributing to effective service delivery.
Primary Growth Partnership

The Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) initiative was established in 2009/10 to drive business-led primary sector innovation and the future market success of primary industries.

This audit is yet to be scoped, but may look at the Ministry for Primary Industries' administration, monitoring, and reporting for PGP programmes, which are funded jointly by the Crown and industry.

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