Our role, purpose, and values

The Auditor-General's strategic intentions to 2028.

Our role

Improving trust, promoting value

The Auditor-General is an Officer of Parliament and is appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of Parliament. The Auditor-General is responsible to Parliament and is independent of both central and local government. The Deputy Auditor-General is appointed in the same way and has the same powers and responsibilities.

The Auditor-General's role covers the accountability of public organisations for both their use of public resources and how they carry out their work.

Our purpose

Our purpose is improving trust and promoting value in the public sector. We do this by influencing improvements in public sector performance and accountability. We aim for our work to be relevant, make a positive difference to the way the public sector operates, and help Parliament and New Zealanders to have trust and confidence in public organisations.

What we stand for

To effectively carry out our role we must be seen as independent, reliable, and trustworthy.

The values that we stand for are:

  • People matter.
  • Our independence is critical.
  • We act with integrity and courage.
  • We're here to make a difference.

Outcomes and activities

The outcomes we seek

The ultimate outcome we seek is that Parliament and New Zealanders have trust and confidence in the public sector. For this to happen, the public sector needs to perform well and provide reliable, meaningful, and timely information so that public organisations can be held to account for their spending and performance.

The outcomes triangle describes the outcomes we seek, what we aim to achieve, what we do, and what we must manage well.

[Click on the image to see a larger version of our performance framework.]

What we do

Performance framework layer 2 iconWe have five core activities

Layer 2 of the Performance framework

Providing advice and support for effective parliamentary scrutiny

We use the information we gather from our work to provide advice and support to Parliament and select committees, including through our annual reviews of public organisations and Estimates examinations after the Government announces its budget each year.

Monitoring spending against parliamentary appropriations (our Controller function)

In conjunction with our annual audits, we carry out appropriation audits of government departments. Appropriation audits are designed to provide assurance that spending by government departments and Offices of Parliament is lawful and within the scope, amount, and period of each appropriation or other authority. It supports the important constitutional principle that the Government cannot spend, borrow, or impose a tax without Parliament's approval.

Auditing information reported by public organisations about their performance

We provide assurance on the information public organisations report about their performance. We do this through our annual audits and other assurance services.

Annual audits of public organisations are the core work of our organisation, accounting for about 85% of our resources. These result in our appointed auditors issuing more than 3300 audit reports each year. We also issue reports to governors of public organisations about how an entity's control environment, performance, or reporting could be improved. The annual audit work is carried out by either Audit New Zealand (the Auditor-General's in-house audit service provider) or private sector audit service providers.

We also audit councils' long-term plans, which are prepared every three years, and conduct other audit activities required by legislation (such as auditing the New Zealand Health Plan).

Audit New Zealand carries out other assurance work on behalf of the Auditor-General that is reasonable and appropriate for an auditor to perform. This includes reviewing procurement and contract management, project management, asset management, risk management, governance arrangements, and conflict of interest practices.

Carrying out inquiries into matters related to the use of public resources

The Auditor General can inquire into any matter related to a public organisation's use of resources. These inquiries can be initiated by the Auditor-General, or at the request of a member of Parliament or a public organisation, or following concerns raised by the public. We decide whether an issue warrants investigation as matters of concern arise.

Assessing public sector performance and accountability

We assess public sector performance and accountability through performance audits and special studies. Performance audits and special studies enable us to look more deeply into particular matters than we are able to in our annual audits, and to make recommendations for improving public sector performance. We also monitor public organisations' progress in implementing the recommendations from our previous performance audits.

We have a responsibility under the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 to review and report on the service performance of Auckland Council and its subsidiaries. We also carry out the primary statutory functions under the Local Authorities (Members' Interests) Act 1968.

As well as assessing public organisations' performance and accountability, we carry out research to understand the challenges that the public sector faces. We also publish good practice guidance to share our insights into what good practice looks like and to help public organisations make improvements.

The extent of the Auditor-General's mandate

The Auditor-General's mandate covers over 3300 public organisations. These include:

  • government departments;
  • Crown entities;
  • city, district, and regional councils and their subsidiaries;
  • state-owned enterprises;
  • ports and airports;
  • schools;
  • tertiary education institutions; and
  • Crown research institutes.

Collectively, these organisations spend more than $170 billion of public money annually (that comes from the taxes and rates that New Zealanders pay).

The Auditor-General is also the Auditor-General for the governments of Niue and Tokelau.

How we are organised and funded

Our structure

The Auditor-General's work is carried out by two business units – the Office of the Auditor-General and Audit New Zealand – supported by our shared Corporate Services Group. There are approximately 480 positions across the organisation. We also contract audit service providers from the private sector to carry out audits on the Auditor-General's behalf.

Our structure

Our funding

Our work is funded through Vote Audit, which has two output appropriations: Statutory Auditor Function and Audit and Assurance Services. The remuneration of the Auditor-General and the Deputy Auditor-General are authorised through a separate appropriation and are Crown-funded.

The appropriation for our Statutory Auditor Function is largely Crown-funded and includes two classes of outputs: Performance Audits and Inquiries and Supporting Accountability to Parliament. These outputs are carried out by the Office of the Auditor-General as well as by our shared Corporate Services Group.

The Audit and Assurance Services appropriation is for carrying out audits and related assurance services as required or authorised by different laws. This appropriation is largely funded by audit fees collected directly from public organisations and funds the functions carried out by Audit New Zealand, a portion of the Office of the Auditor-General and our shared Corporate Services Group, and the audits carried out by contracted audit service providers.