Part 4: Opportunities to improve performance reporting in Auckland

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

All of the services that public organisations provide occur in our towns, cities, and regions, with the exception of public organisations that work overseas on behalf of New Zealanders. However, public organisations do not always provide a clear breakdown of their performance for specific populations or places.

Generally, public organisations are not legally required to report their performance at a local level.

As a result, it is difficult to fully assess how well the public sector is performing in Auckland. We consider that this is important, and Aucklanders should be able to get basic answers to questions about how the public sector is performing in the region.

To help address this, we suggest the following opportunities to support more place-based reporting on Auckland (and other regions). In our view, these three opportunities would improve public accountability and the transparency of public spending. They would reflect good practice when it comes to building transparency (and over time increased trust) between the public sector and the people it serves.

There is potential to build on the work of the Auckland Policy Office, the Regional Public Service Commissioner for Auckland, and Auckland Council to integrate and align a clearer public accountability framework for Auckland.

Together, the Auckland Policy Office, the Regional Public Service Commissioner for Auckland, and Auckland Council can provide a collective view of central and local government in Auckland and co-ordinate meaningful reporting to Parliament and the public on the performance of public organisations in the region.

We intend to monitor progress to see whether and how these opportunities have led to improvements.

Opportunity 1: Provide a clear outline of outcomes central and local government are looking to achieve in Auckland

Public organisations in central and local government, working with the broader community, should develop an integrated framework of the outcomes sought for Auckland where relevant to do so.

It is important for the public sector to describe the longer-term outcomes (goals) it is looking to achieve through its work. This would provide a basis for aligning priorities, objectives, and work in the region. It would also provide a framework for reporting performance and progress against those agreed outcomes.

Outcomes describe what public organisations intend to achieve through their services and actions. Reporting against outcomes helps show whether the public money being spent contributes to community goals.

In our view, greater alignment between public organisations in the region and greater collaboration between central and local government would enable strategic outcomes to be set for Auckland and ultimately achieve improved outcomes for Auckland. To do this, public organisations need to align their goals and work in new ways to achieve them.

Enacting the Public Service Act 2020 and setting up Regional Public Service Commissioners throughout the country provides an opportunity for greater co-ordination between public organisations.

Opportunity 2: Provide an overview of the key activities, programmes, and investments in Auckland

Public organisations in Auckland should provide the public with an overview of their main activities and programmes.

Auckland is the focus of significant public sector activity and investment. However, it is difficult to understand the nature and extent of those activities or the levels of proposed investment.

An overview of the major public sector work occurring in Auckland would be an effective way to inform the public. This should be kept up to date and outline:

  • clear links to any strategic outcomes sought in Auckland;
  • roles and responsibilities; and
  • budget, spending, benefits, and time frames.

The Public Service Act 2020 enables better co-ordination of, and more transparency about, what public organisations are doing in Auckland. The Act supports the move towards more joined-up government in the regions. It aims to build alignment between public organisations nationally and regionally, and to provide effective engagement with local government, Māori, and regional stakeholders.

In our view, public organisations in Auckland should consider how they could make the most of this opportunity and support the development of a robust overview of activities in Auckland.

Public organisations could also consider how they could better communicate their current and proposed funding commitments in Auckland. Where relevant, this would include any local government collaborations. For example, Waka Kotahi provides a good outline of its regional investment programmes in the National Land Transport Fund annual report.

Opportunity 3: Provide more detailed and regular performance reporting

Public organisations in Auckland should provide more detailed reporting on their spending and, where possible, improve their reporting on the progress they are making in delivering outcomes in Auckland.

As a starting point, public organisations could consider how to provide more detail on their regional spending in more open and accessible ways. The Treasury is also requesting that central government organisations provide more information on significant initiatives from recent Budgets to allow the public to trace what difference the organisations are making with new public funding.43

There are also opportunities to improve information about how public money is being spent and whether it is delivering good outcomes or improving services for Aucklanders. We encourage public organisations to improve their reporting on what their spending achieves in the region.

This does not mean that public organisations need to provide more information in their annual reports. They can report this performance through other publicly accessible information sources, such as their websites.

Over time, we expect public organisations to provide a more coherent performance story than they currently do. This includes aligning their performance expectations to any specific outcomes for Auckland and including this in their performance reporting framework.

It is important to reiterate that these opportunities also apply to other regions of New Zealand. As the government looks to improve public accountability arrangements throughout New Zealand, we encourage it to consider place-based reporting further.

43: For more information, see the Treasury, Annual reports and other end-of-year performance reporting, at