Our short-term priorities

Each year, we set out our priorities in our annual plan. This is a summary of that content.

In the next year, our work will focus on:

  • strengthening our core assurance role;
  • increasing our impact with public organisations;
  • enhancing our impact in te ao Maori; and
  • building on our reputation as a source of trusted information.

Strengthening our core assurance role

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.

Increasing our impact with public organisations

We want to increase our impact by increasing our focus on topics that are important to public accountability. There are key stakeholders in the public accountability system who can influence change, so we will consider how we continue to engage with, support, and build relationships with them to maximise the impact of our work.

Effective performance and accountability are vital to maintaining the trust and confidence that Parliament and the public have in the public sector. As the auditor of every public organisation, the Auditor-General has a unique position from which to influence improvements in performance and accountability practices across the public sector. This includes our role in promoting examples of good practice in the public sector that other public organisations can learn from.

Influencing positive change in the accountability practices of public organisations will help support Parliament in its scrutiny role.

We aim to:

  1. Influence more meaningful and useful performance reporting to improve the performance and accountability of the public sector.
  2. Increase the focus the public sector has on value for money.
  3. Promote a long-term view in public organisations’ planning and decision-making to strengthen the public sector’s response to long-term challenges facing New Zealand.
  4. Support strong organisational integrity practices.

Enhancing our impact in te ao Maori 

As a statutory body performing a public function, our work should be carried out in a way that upholds te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi (the Treaty). We recognise that policies, programmes, and services that produce quality outcomes for iwi, hapu, and whanau Maori will ultimately benefit all New Zealanders.

We have outlined our position in respect of the Treaty for our staff, and are also developing a te ao Maori strategy to help us to continue to build our capacity and capability as an organisation. We will advance our aspirations and implement our te ao Maori strategy.

We will also work to:

  • build meaningful relationships with iwi, Maori organisations, and individuals, including through the establishment of an external ropu Maori;
  • actively seek Maori perspectives on public accountability and input from Maori into our annual work programme planning; and
  • integrate Maori perspectives into how we work and what we focus on.

Building on our reputation as a source of trusted information

An independent, authoritative, and balanced voice is a counter to misinformation. We need to do more to communicate our work to target audiences to ensure that it has impact, and for us to be seen more widely as an independent source of truth on matters of public sector performance and accountability.

Being a trusted voice does not mean we need a high public profile. However, we do need to increase understanding of our role and what we stand for among our target audiences to earn and maintain their trust.

To achieve this, we will be intentional in how we communicate our work, including:

  • identifying our target audiences and communicating with them through a wider range of channels and approaches;
  • more clearly explaining the roles of the Auditor-General and Deputy Auditor-General as independent Officers of Parliament and increasing, where appropriate, their public profile;
  • more actively targeting our engagement with the media and other influential stakeholders; and
  • publishing more data and information that will be useful for people interested in public sector performance and accountability.

Page updated: 26 June 2023