Strengthening our core assurance role

The Auditor-General's strategic intentions to 2028.

Image used for Strengthening our core assurance roleWhat we want to achieve

We want to ensure that the public audit system is sustainable in the long term, that we can continue to deliver our mandatory audit and assurance services, and that we are able to modernise our audit function and respond to changes affecting the audit profession.

Why this is important

The public audit system supports public organisations to report relevant and reliable information about their finances and performance. Transparent reporting allows organisations to identify what and how they can improve. In turn, both Parliament and the public can have trust and confidence in the public sector because they can see how public money is being spent and what is being achieved with that money.

Many issues are affecting the long-term sustainability of the public audit system. There are pressures caused by a global auditor shortage (and fewer people studying accountancy-related subjects in New Zealand universities), ongoing challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, and increasing expectations on auditors (such as quality management expectations).

Changes to the wider operating environment are also adding pressure for both public organisations and our auditors. These changes include the new climate and emissions reporting requirements, increasing use of difficult-to-audit technologies such as artificial intelligence, and various public sector reforms that will have accountability, reporting, and assurance implications.

The change we want to see after five years

The public audit system will:

  • have optimised the allocation of the audit portfolio with audits well matched to audit service providers' capacity and capability;
  • have an efficient and sustainable model for schools reporting and auditing;
  • have recovered from the delivery pressures caused by Covid-19 and returned public sector audits to pre-Covid-19 reporting timeframes, while maintaining audit quality; and
  • meet new responsibilities for public sector audits (such as auditing the New Zealand Health plan), including having the necessary methodologies and systems in place.

Audit New Zealand will:

  • be an attractive career choice for future audit professionals;
  • have a sustainable workforce, audit portfolio, revenue, and memorandum account; and
  • have the systems and tools to deliver high-quality audits efficiently and on time.

What we will do

Strengthen the public audit system

We will work to strengthen the public audit system by:

  • influencing and supporting professional bodies to build the attractiveness of auditing as a career and to strengthen the pipeline of professionals interested in public sector auditing;
  • actively managing audit allocations to match audit capacity and capability and to complete quality public sector audits in a timely manner;
  • influencing and supporting education sector stakeholders to ensure that there is an effective and efficient audit process for schools;
  • enhancing our quality management processes to ensure that the quality of audits is maintained across all audit service providers;
  • providing guidance and support to audit service providers, including new assurance providers, to ensure that they can meet growing expectations and market demands (such as assurance about climate and emissions reporting) and develop methodologies for new types of audits (such as auditing the New Zealand Health Plan);
  • working closely with audit service providers of the more significant public sector organisations to increase the impact of public sector audits and continue to enhance the value of the audit;
  • carrying out detailed analyses to ensure that audit fees are reasonable and reflect the full scope of a public sector audit, covering the current operating costs and future investment requirements of audit service providers;
  • implementing new tools, systems, and processes that support the public audit system to be effective and efficient, and to improve how insights from public sector audits are developed and used; and
  • encouraging innovation and ensuring that appropriate opportunities are taken.

Positioning Audit New Zealand for the future

To ensure that Audit New Zealand is positioned well for the future, we will:

  • complete our planned deployment and integration of new audit software;
  • develop and implement other new tools, systems, and processes that respond to current pressures;
  • complete a practice management review of Audit New Zealand and implement recommendations;
  • increase capacity by implementing our recruitment and retention strategies, including creating an international career pathway with other Audit Offices; and
  • develop our people with the skills they need to support achievement of our other strategic intentions.