Part 2: About our 2016/17 theme – Information

Annual Plan 2016/17.

The theme for our 2016/17 work programme is Information.

Good management and use of information is essential to providing effective and efficient public services. Information held by public entities can be used to improve service delivery, to support evidence-based policy development and decision-making, and to accurately measure performance and effectiveness.

Investment to improve information and technology systems is enabling public entities to transform the way they deliver services. The way in which New Zealanders expect to access information and services is also changing. In response, public entities are focusing their efforts on improving the quality of their online information and services, making them easier to find, access, and use.

With an increased focus on using information and technology to improve services, there is a growing importance on keeping personal information safe. Ongoing improvement in the public sector's capability and capacity to manage the information New Zealanders entrust to it is essential to maintain public confidence in the accuracy and security of that information.

Why is this theme an area of interest?

We have drawn on our previous work and knowledge from across the public sector to determine our theme for this year's work programme. We selected Information because of its increasing importance to the effective and efficient delivery of public services now and in the future.

Our work under our previous Governance and accountability theme highlighted the importance of good information for strong governance, accountability, and transparency in the public sector. We also sought the views of citizens to help inform our work programme. Our two-day online forum and group discussion with members of the public highlighted their experiences in obtaining information from, or providing information to, the public sector. The experiences that worked well involved processes and interactions that were easy, convenient, and comprehensible. Citizens also highlighted the importance of accurate and secure information for users of public services.

Through our work, we will examine aspects of how well the public sector is both managing and making use of information. We will provide an independent view on how well public entities:

  • capture, store, share, and use the information they collect or generate to inform effective and efficient delivery of public services;
  • deploy technology to enable accessible services that meet the changing needs of New Zealanders; and
  • manage security and privacy requirements so that the information they collect is suitably protected.

As we carry out our 2016/17 work programme, we plan to use what we heard from citizens to stimulate conversation and debate among our various stakeholders, including public entities and the public, and to keep citizens' views in mind. We expect this citizen-focused approach to enrich our reporting, including our reflections report on the Information theme.

Our focus in 2016/17

We have selected a range and mix of topics that will examine how well the public sector manages and makes use of information. In Part 3, we provide a brief description of each performance audit and the other work we will carry out.

In 2016/17, we will also:

  • publish our Investment and asset management reflections report from our 2015/16 theme;
  • start work on the Response of New Zealand Police to the Commission of Inquiry into Police conduct: Final monitoring report;
  • publish sector reports covering the results of our 2015/16 audits in central government and local government;
  • prepare a summary of the results of our 2015 school audits;
  • prepare a summary of the results of our 2015 audits of tertiary education institutions; and
  • prepare follow-up reports on the implementation of the recommendations of our performance audits, inquiries, and other work.

Concluding work on our 2015/16 work programme

As noted above, we will complete our work on our Investment and asset management theme in 2016/17, and present our reflections report on the results of that work. Figure 2 lists the audits and other work that we started in 2015/16 and expect to finish in 2016/17.

Figure 2
Audits and other work started in 2015/16 and due to be finished in 2016/17

1 Public asset management – strategy, practice, and information
2 Auckland Council – Review of service performance: Complaints management
3 Schools: How the management of school property affects the ability of schools to effectively operate
4 Energy lines companies: Managing critical infrastructure
5 Return on investment in modernising the courts
6 Major asset investment: Planning and delivering benefits – the contribution of the Gateway process
7 Delivering mental health services
8 Central government entities: Medium-term (4-year) financial plans
9 Tertiary education: Optimising investment in assets
10 Health sector: Results of the 2014/15 audits

Inquiry reports

We do not have a proposed work programme of inquiry topics because this work is unpredictable. The number of inquiries or the topics cannot be planned in advance. We budget for inquiries based on our knowledge of trends over the last 3-4 years.

Looking forward to our proposed themes for 2017/18 and 2018/19

Our proposed theme for 2017/18 is Water. We are interested in water because it is of significant and growing interest to Parliament and citizens here and internationally, in terms of both water quality and quantity. It is a broad topic that spans central and local government, the environment, the economy, and society. It therefore provides a focused and useful introduction to our proposed 2018/19 theme of Sustainable development. We are currently considering the scope of work under our proposed sustainable development theme. The next Auditor-General will of course need to reconsider these themes and topics and make their own independent decisions.

Appendix – Our multi-year themed work programme

Our multi-year work programme is set out in the Appendix. It outlines our planned work for 2016/17, and the proposed work in 2017/18 and 2018/19. It lists the products from our work under the previous two themes. It does not include unplanned work, such as inquiries.