Appendix 2: How we carried out our audit

Using “functional leadership” to improve government procurement.

How some public organisations helped us before the audit started

When we were planning the audit, we met with senior leaders from several public organisations22 to get their thoughts on how we should approach the audit. The staff held roles such as chief financial officer, general manager, and head of procurement. Their comments helped us to decide on the focus and scope of the audit. We thank them for their contribution.

Audit fieldwork and analysis: New Zealand Government Procurement, central agencies, Oranga Tamariki, and suppliers

We analysed documents the public organisations provided and documents we got from their websites.

We interviewed:

  • 26 NZGP staff to check and clarify our understanding of the documents and to supplement the documentary evidence;
  • two people from the Treasury's Investment Management and Asset Performance team and one person from its Social Sector team;
  • two Assistant State Services Commissioners involved in chief executives' performance reviews (including for MBIE's chief executive) and staff working on public sector reforms; and
  • the general manager commissioning, Oranga Tamariki, because this person had been involved in NZGP's work on social sector procurement capability.

Other MBIE staff gave us presentations on some of the electronic systems, such as the Government Electronic Tender Service and the Online Panel Directory.

We met with members of the Business Reference Group (an advisory group set up by NZGP), which had members who mainly represent suppliers' umbrella organisations. We asked for their comments on achievements since 2012, any gaps that should be addressed, and any improvements that they would find worthwhile.

Audit fieldwork and analysis: The six public organisations

We analysed documents the public organisations gave us and documents we got from their websites. We wanted to get an overview of how the public organisations manage procurement and ask about their experience of using NZGP's services. We asked them for their views on achievements since 2012, any gaps that should be addressed, and any improvements that they would find worthwhile.

We interviewed at least three staff from each public organisation, including an executive manager who had direct oversight of procurement spending or procurement staff. The job titles of the people we interviewed included:

  • chief executive or acting chief executive;
  • chief financial officer;
  • chief legal advisor;
  • commercial manager;
  • general manager;
  • head of internal audit or equivalent; and
  • head of procurement or equivalent.

Towards the end of our fieldwork, we held a three-hour workshop to discuss and clarify aspects of the system to improve procurement. Staff from all six public organisations attended and more than one person came from some organisations. The attendees were mainly procurement staff because they held the most detailed knowledge of NZGP's services and their organisations' interaction with NZGP.

Other sources of information

We collected information about procurement management during our wider financial audit and performance audit work. We used relevant information for our audit, including comments public organisations provided to us for our work on panels of suppliers.

Two of our own reports informed our findings:

We reviewed reports from other audit offices on procurement-related topics. Of particular interest were:

  • Victorian Auditor-General's Office (2018), State purchase contracts,
  • Queensland Audit Office (2016), Strategic procurement: Report 1: 2016-17,
  • National Audit Office (2013), Improving government procurement,

Other reports we found useful were:

  • Institute for Government (2018), Government procurement: The scale and nature of contracting in the UK,; and
  • The Australia and New Zealand School of Government (2019), Today's problems, yesterday's toolkit: Restoring trust in government by reinventing how the public service works,

We looked at what information other countries publicly report on government procurement spending. Our search was not exhaustive. The website of Western Australia's Department of Finance publishes annual reports on procurement spending that are user friendly. The reports are Who Buys What and How (see In May 2019, we discussed these reports in a blog.23

22: The public organisations were Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the Inland Revenue Department, Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Limited, Intelligence Community Shared Services for the Government Communications Security Bureau and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, and Wellington City Council.

23: Office of the Auditor-General (2019), "Do you know how much New Zealand's public agencies spend on procurement?", blog post, at