Deputy Auditor-General's overview

Reporting on the public sector’s performance in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

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

Slightly more than a third of New Zealand’s population, more than 1.7 million people, live in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and the region produces about 37% of the country’s gross domestic product.

It has been estimated in the past that about a third of central government spending is in Auckland, and Auckland Council’s reported spending for the 2022/23 year was about $8 billion. More than 130,000 public servants live and work in Auckland.

Given Auckland’s significance and the scale of the public services that central and local government organisations deliver there, we wanted to understand whether Aucklanders and the wider New Zealand public can see how much public money is being spent in the region, where it is being spent, and what difference it makes to the region.

To answer these questions, we sought to put together a picture of public sector performance in Auckland. We wanted to describe the main activities public organisations in both central and local government carry out, the specific outcomes they seek, how much they spend on providing public services, and what they achieve with that spending.

To do this, we looked at the performance information of 50 public organisations that are based in or have a significant presence in Auckland.

We found it difficult to get a complete picture of how well public organisations in Auckland perform. Some public organisations provide Auckland-specific performance information in their annual reports, but others report more generally at a national level.

Adding to the lack of clarity, the public sector in Auckland does not have a unified vision, strategy, or set of outcomes that central and local government work towards and report on.

Our Office has been concerned about how public organisations report their performance for some time. The public needs to know what we are getting for our taxes and rates, and this is often difficult if not impossible to determine from publicly available information.

Although this report focuses on Auckland, all communities in New Zealand would in our view benefit from public organisations reporting their performance at a local level.

If done well, Auckland-specific performance reporting would enable Parliament and the public to have a better idea of the outcomes public organisations seek in Auckland and what differences they are making with the public money they invest there. In turn, this would enable public organisations to better determine whether they are focusing their spending on the right areas and to support ongoing efficiencies and performance improvements for the region.

In our view, central government and local government organisations could take three opportunities to support better place-based reporting in Auckland. These are:

  • Work together to agree outcomes in the areas they need to collaborate on in Auckland.
  • Compile an overview of the key activities, programmes, and investments the public sector is carrying out in Auckland and make it publicly available.
  • Provide more detailed and regular reporting on spending and improve reporting on performance.

In our view, Auckland is set up to do this. The Auckland Policy Office and the Regional Public Service Commissioner for Auckland are well placed to lead and co-ordinate improved collaboration and reporting.

There are opportunities to learn from organisations that already provide good performance reporting, and we have included examples of this in this report. These examples highlight the use of accessible reporting frameworks and mechanisms to provide more meaningful and place-based performance information to Aucklanders.

We intend this report to support and encourage open discussion about the opportunities we outline and about how public organisations can work together more effectively. We will also continue to collect information to monitor improvements in performance and performance reporting in Auckland over time.

Naku noa, nā

Andrew McConnell
Deputy Controller and Auditor-General

31 October 2023