Appendix: Scope and limitations of our work

Management of the Wage Subsidy Scheme.

We did not audit any of the private organisations that received subsidy payments. Whether those organisations accessed and used the Scheme lawfully and whether their circumstances were consistent with the declarations they made is not within our statutory mandate to audit.

Our work focused on the extent to which the public organisations involved in administering the Scheme were aware of the risks of fraud or error, and the actions they took to manage those risks through prevention, detection, and recovery work.

We did not examine the merits of the policy decision Cabinet made to have a subsidy or to take a high-trust approach because we do not comment on government policy. Our work was limited to the implementation of the Scheme. We have excluded other forms of government support in response to Covid-19, such as the Leave Support Scheme, from this work. We have not performed a detailed assessment of compliance with privacy and information technology security requirements as part of our work looking at implementation of the Scheme.

Some of our work relied on datasets provided by the Ministry of Social Development at different points in time. We carried out a quality assessment of these datasets. We sought explanations from the Ministry of Social Development for a small number of data quality issues, which we identified across these datasets. Based on our discussions with the Ministry, we decided to accept the data as it is because these issues were not material to the overall situation described by the data in our report or our use of the data at an aggregate level.

We decided that the additional data analysis that would be required to make more informed decisions about the inclusion or exclusion of individual records in our analysis was not needed in the circumstances. Therefore, the information in this report is based on raw data from the Ministry of Social Development and is the same type of information that the Ministry has used in its public reporting about the Scheme. The information we provide is specific to given points in time, as we have noted alongside the information.

To perform our work, we:

  • obtained and reviewed the relevant Cabinet and departmental briefings, advice, and decision-making documents;
  • obtained and reviewed the main policy procedure and protocol documents about managing the Scheme;
  • obtained and reviewed management and governance documents about the performance and review of the Scheme;
  • spoke with staff in the Ministry of Social Development, Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and the Treasury;
  • observed some of the business systems the Ministry of Social Development used;
  • spoke with representatives of non-government organisations involved in providing advice and/or support to their members in relation to the Scheme;
  • obtained and reviewed data and analysis about payments, repayments, and declined applications, complaints, and reviews and investigations of recipients of subsidy payments;
  • carried out a quality analysis of the payments, repayments, and declined applications datasets, discussed that analysis with the Ministry of Social Development, and used those discussions to inform our analysis of that data; and
  • obtained and reviewed the work of the International Public Sector Fraud Forum and various documents about good practice in managing fraud and abuse in crisis situations.