Appendix 1: Response to feedback on our draft annual plan

Annual plan 2023/24.

Section 36 of the Public Audit Act 2001 outlines the requirements for preparing the annual plan of the Auditor-General. This includes considering any comments of the Speaker or any committee of the House of Representatives on our Draft annual plan 2023/24. Below, we outline the feedback we received from committees and our response to that feedback. We also describe the feedback received from our other stakeholders, including the general public.

The feedback we received on our draft plan was largely supportive of our proposed work programme and the topics it covers. We received an acknowledgement of our plan from the Justice, Governance and Administration, and Social Services and Community Committees.

The Finance and Expenditure Committee (FEC) invited us to discuss our plan and provided us with feedback. The Committee was interested in our planned work on performance reporting and what Parliament can do to support the objective of improving performance reporting.

Performance reporting is the main way that public organisations explain to Parliament and the public how well they have used public money to deliver services, achieve outcomes, and ultimately create value for New Zealand. Performance reporting plays an important role in maintaining public trust and confidence in the public sector. Parliament can require more from public organisations. It can demand better quality information that is focused on what matters to New Zealanders.

We noted in our draft plan that we are planning to introduce a new product in 2023/24 – a rapid audit. The feedback we received was generally supportive of this new type of audit, which will be a shorter form of performance audit, designed to provide clarity or insight on matters of immediate public interest in a short time frame.

The FEC was interested in how we would ensure the necessary quality, rigour, and accuracy for rapid audits. We are preparing a new methodology for these types of audits to make sure that they can be carried out quickly, will adhere to our quality standards, and are as useful as possible to Parliament, public organisations, and the public. The methodology may depend on the topic and the extent to which the review draws conclusions, provides assurance, and makes recommendations.

The FEC noted that the plan looks well considered and did not propose any changes.

Other feedback we received was largely supportive of our proposed work programme. We did receive feedback about the breadth of this plan, and the amount of work we have planned during this year while also addressing audits deferred due to Covid-19. While we acknowledge this plan is broad, we want to ensure that we continue to provide insight into the areas of public sector performance that New Zealanders see as important alongside our focus on addressing deferred work.

In this year's public survey, we heard about two areas of interest for the public: value for money and resilience of infrastructure, and the effectiveness of workforce planning in the health and education sectors. In our draft plan, we asked for feedback on these options and we received particular support for looking at the resilience of infrastructure, with some specific suggestions that we could focus on. We have decided to include a performance audit on this topic in our programme for 2023/24.

We received detailed feedback about some of our initiatives, which we will consider as we carry out more detailed planning for our work, as well as when planning work for 2024/25 onwards.