Annual report 2022/23

What went well in 2022/23

What went well imageWe are well placed to return to pre-pandemic audit completion rates

We completed most audits on time for large public organisations and those most important to New Zealand’s public accountability system.1 We have made good progress on our deferred audits for other large public organisations and are well placed to have audits completed within pre-Covid statutory time frames in 2023/24, although school audits will remain challenging.

We maintained quality

Maintaining audit quality has been a priority for the Office. Monitoring reports about audit quality by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) in 2021 and 2022 indicated that auditors had responded well to the various challenges presented by Covid-19. Reviews by the FMA, the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA), and our own in-house quality assurance team have all shown that Audit New Zealand and other audit service providers continue to deliver quality audits. This is a significant achievement, given the challenges that Covid-19 created.

We increased our capacity to complete annual audits

We reallocated audits between audit firms to ensure that workload was manageable and to maximise our use of available audit capacity in New Zealand. Audit New Zealand is sufficiently resourced for its current workload. We have established new secondment arrangements with other audit offices internationally, which increase capacity when demand is high and provide staff with opportunities to broaden their experience.

We advocated for better performance reporting

It is difficult, and often not possible, to track public spending and what is being achieved with it. Systemic shortcomings have been identified through our audits and reports.

This year, we advocated extensively for improved performance reporting to build and maintain Parliament’s and the public’s trust and confidence in the public sector. We have seen some improved reporting on major areas of government spending and Parliament has responded positively to the need for change, with new rules for select committee scrutiny.

We helped strengthen accountability for water services

Our submission on the Water Services Entities Bill resulted in improved accountability and audit arrangements.

The Water Services Entities Act 2022 now requires the Auditor-General to audit the water services entities’ statements of intent, infrastructure strategies, and consumer engagement strategies. This will significantly improve public confidence in these organisations' performance.

We continued to deliver insights to improve public sector performance

We published significant reports on matters of importance to New Zealanders that have driven positive change. The matters we have reported on include harmful behaviours in the New Zealand Defence Force, family violence, Whānau Ora, and the Provincial Growth Fund reset. Some of our other publications focus on topics that are most relevant to the public sector audience, for example on Crown entity monitoring, procurement, and emergency responses.

We helped to improve targeting of Cost of Living Payments

We raised concerns about how eligibility criteria were applied for the Cost of Living Payment, uncertainty about how many ineligible people received the payment, and the approach to recovering payments from ineligible recipients.

Inland Revenue took action to address these problems. This included estimating the amount of ineligible payments, carrying out extra checks on people’s residential status, and contacting people about eligibility and repayment requirements.

We took important steps to build our capability in te ao Māori

We established our Māori Rōpū to advise the Auditor-General on matters central to Māori and how we might be more relevant to them. We are taking a phased approach to our te ao Māori strategy. We have carried out work to understand our history and the role we played in some significant events affecting Māori. We continue to build the capacity and capability of our people with te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. We commissioned work to understand Māori perspectives on public accountability and the implications of this for the Office.

1: Other than those that have been disestablished, such as district health boards.