Auditor-General’s overview

Annual plan 2020/21.

E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangarangatanga maha o te motu, tēnā koutou.

I am pleased to present my Office’s Annual plan 2020/21. This plan sets out the work that we intend to carry out in 2020/21 and the work that we are considering for the following two years.

Our purpose is improving trust and promoting value in the public sector. Ensuring trust and confidence in the public sector has never been more critical than now, as New Zealand responds to the Covid-19 pandemic, with much of this response being led by the public sector.

We prepared our Draft annual plan 2020/21 at the same time as the pandemic was emerging. In our draft plan, we indicated that, for the next few years, our work would have a key focus on examining the public sector’s response to, and recovery from, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We presented our Draft annual plan 2020/21 for consultation with members of Parliament at the end of April. We also actively sought feedback from a range of other stakeholders.

Overall, there was strong support for our work, while acknowledging that the plan overall was ambitious. We have had helpful feedback from Parliament, public organisations, and the broader public. As we anticipated, there were many suggestions about work that we could do to support the public sector in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

I thank all those who took the time to consider our draft plan and send feedback, while also dealing with the disruption caused by the pandemic. We have carefully considered all the feedback we received. It has helped us to refine our work programme, and we will also use it as we carry out more detailed scoping of particular topics.

My Office has a range of functions that help Parliament and the public hold public organisations to account for their use of public money. Annual audits of public organisations are our core work, accounting for nearly 85% of our resources. We report information from our annual audits to help Parliament and the public scrutinise the effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of public organisations.

We use the balance of our resources to provide advice and support to select committees for their effective scrutiny of public organisations, to monitor expenditure against parliamentary appropriations (our Controller function), to carry out inquiries (where we consider the appropriateness of the behaviour of public organisations and their use of resources), and to conduct performance audits (where we look at the effectiveness of spending by public organisations) and special studies (where we seek to research and publish information that will benefit public sector performance and accountability).

We intend to use all our core functions to inform our work and, in particular, our assessment of the Covid-19 response and recovery effort. For example, the information that auditors gather from their work in 2020/21 will help us to understand the common issues and additional risks that public organisations faced during the response to and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Covid-19 matters will be an important focus of our work, other key work programmes will also continue. These include:

  • strengthening integrity systems in the public sector;
  • assessing how well the public sector is delivering on outcomes for New Zealanders;
  • developing further good practice guidance;
  • progressing our multi-year programmes on procurement, public accountability, and well-being; and
  • our regular work and reporting on sector performance, Controller activities, audit follow-up, and supporting audit and risk committees.

The pages that follow describe all our work in more detail. Our Annual plan 2020/21 forms part of a multi-year work programme that we refresh every year. Although we have a planned programme of work, we will regularly review our proposed work so that it remains relevant and responsive. This is particularly important given the dynamic and uncertain operating environment we are all functioning in. We will publicly report any substantial changes to our plan.

I thank everyone who has contributed to this plan. I am confident that our work programme will help to positively influence the trust and confidence that Parliament and New Zealanders have in the public sector. I look forward to reporting the results of our work during the coming year.

Nāku noa, nā

Signature - JR

John Ryan
Controller and Auditor-General

25 June 2020