Part 5: Building on our reputation as a source of trusted information

Annual plan 2023/24.

We want to build on our reputation as a source of trusted information about public sector performance and accountability. We need to do more to communicate our work to target audiences to ensure that it has impact and for us to be seen as an independent source of truth on matters of public sector performance and accountability.

In 2023/24, our work will focus on:

1. Our regular reports

Each year, we consolidate the results of our annual audits in central government, local government, and other sectors. We publish the main findings from these audits in sector reports or letters and use them to advise select committees, keep the public informed, and plan our work programme. We also report on the results of our annual audit of the Government's financial statements.

Planned work: Sector reports
In 2023/24, we plan to prepare reports about the latest completed audits in these sectors:
  • central government (including the Controller function);
  • schools;
  • tertiary education institutions (including work on disparities in tertiary education);
  • health;
  • local government; and
  • licensing trusts.
Planned work: Auckland landscape scan
In 2023/24 we will complete an Auckland landscape scan to describe the Auckland context and to assess how the public sector is reporting on its performance in the region.

About 34% of New Zealand's population live in the Auckland region. By 2043, Auckland's population is expected to increase by 600,000. This will take the total Auckland population to 2.2 million. Auckland is diverse and home to people of more than 200 different ethnicities, with about 40% of Aucklanders born overseas.

In 2019, public sector spending in Auckland was estimated to be 36% of the total public sector spending for the country. Nationally significant public sector work programmes have major policy and delivery components in Auckland. About 29% of public sector employees are based in Auckland.

Managing the infrastructure needed for Auckland's growth is increasingly addressed through large-scale infrastructure projects that are jointly funded by the Crown and Auckland Council. This creates complexity in governance, accountabilities, procurement, and monitoring outcomes for these projects.

In combination with our annual audits, we carry out appropriation audits of government departments. We also monitor public spending, in keeping with a Memorandum of Understanding we have with the Treasury. Through this work, we check that government expenditure is within the authority provided by Parliament. We report our findings and conclusions to the Treasury throughout the year in monthly Controller reports.

Our report on the central government audits includes the work carried out under our Controller function for the year, along with our findings and conclusions. We also produce an interim report on our half-year findings (our work from 1 July to 31 December of each year) and various reports on matters of interest.

Planned work: Half-year Controller update
Our Controller function is a core part of our role. It provides assurance to Parliament and the public about whether the Government has incurred expenditure as authorised by Parliament. We report publicly on our work.

In 2023/24, we will provide our regular half-year Controller update, which provides an account of our work and findings for the first six months of 2023/24. We may also publish Controller reports on other matters of interest and summarise findings for the year in the annual report on central government audits.

2. Better using our knowledge and reputation

We want to increase our impact by actively sharing our knowledge and that of other experts with the broader public sector.

Planned work: Procurement reflections – wrap-up of procurement work
Procurement is the process that public organisations use to obtain different kinds of goods and services to support their work. We want to support public organisations to get the best possible outcomes from spending public money, which is why we started a multi-year work programme on procurement in 2018/19.

The work programme began with an introductory report: Introducing our work about procurement. Since then, we have produced a range of procurement-related reports. The final piece of work in this work programme is a procurement reflections report. This report will analyse our recent procurement-related work and identify key themes and good practice. We wish to inform and engage key public sector stakeholders (including Parliament and officials working in procurement functions) on our findings, with the aim of improving public sector procurement practices.
Planned work: Support for audit and risk committees
We will continue our focus on engaging with audit, risk, and assurance committees (including convening Audit and Risk Committee Chairs' Forums about eight times a year, covering topics relevant to local and central government).

We will also continue to support a new Parliament in its scrutiny function, brief councils on our role, on good governance, and on good practice, and regularly attend audit and risk meetings in larger public organisations.

We are always looking for ways to give Parliament and the public better visibility of matters of current concern involving public organisations. In recent years, we have been working to provide our reports more quickly, so they are more useful for public organisations trying to improve their performance. Our work on personal protective equipment, the nationwide roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, and the Wage Subsidy Scheme are all examples of where this has been successful.

In 2023/24, we want to keep building on what we have learned from this work and pilot a new type of performance audit work – a rapid audit.

These rapid audits will be a shorter, quicker form of performance audit and will complement our other inquiry and performance audit work by providing a timelier way of reporting facts about emerging and topical issues. They will support parliamentary scrutiny of issues as they emerge and will provide the public with a means to better understand the issue. Designed to be fast (reporting on an issue after about 12 weeks), the work will focus on setting out facts supported by good evidence to clarify or provide insight.

Other Supreme Audit Institutions, such as those in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and France, have started doing this type of work and have covered topics such as Covid-19 responses and supply of strategic reserves. We will look to learn from these examples when scoping our work.

Planned work: Two pilot rapid audits (topics to be confirmed)
In 2023/24, we plan to carry out two pilot rapid audits. Although the topics are still to be decided, we will look to have a value-for-money focus in at least one of these pilots.

The form of the work will depend on the topic and could range from desk-based research to specific case studies. The rapid audits may also be designed to support more longer-term performance audit or inquiry work.

In 2022/23, we have run a speaker series for public servants on matters of concern to the Auditor-General, such as integrity and performance reporting. These sessions have attracted many hundreds of public servants.

In 2023/24, we will continue to use our "What good looks like" speaker series and other events to share good practice.

Planned work: "What good looks like" speaker series
We will continue our quarterly speaker series, where we host online and in-person events with a range of speakers and panellists from the public and private sectors who share their good practice experience and processes.