Video transcript: The Controller function

A transcript for a video about the Controller function.

Title: Office of the Controller and Auditor-General logo

Title: The Controller function

Each year, New Zealand’s government spends more than $110 billion of tax-payers money on goods and services – like hospitals and schools.

That money is divided between the various ministries and departments through the Budget, which is approved by Parliament.

To get that, each Minister asks Parliament for a certain amount of money, stipulating what that money will be spent on.

These are called Appropriations. The Appropriation is just authority to spend money.

That amount of money must be spent on that particular thing – no more can be spent, and not on anything else.

The Controller function in the Auditor-General’s office checks that each department has spent the money as authorised – it’s like the “watchdog” on government spending.

It does that by auditing each government department every year – and checking over a monthly Treasury report.

If something doesn’t look right – if the department spent more than the maximum or spent money on something not within the Appropriation, then the auditors tell the Controller.

Unapproved spending does happen a few times a year. Often it’s to cover unexpected necessary expenses – but it’s not what they said they would spend the money on.

The Controller then talks to the department about the unapproved spending.

The CEO of the department must then tell their Minister, who has to explain the unapproved spending to Parliament. Parliament then has to approve the spending retrospectively.

Parliament passes an Act to make the spending lawful.

In extraordinary circumstances, if the Controller is very concerned about unauthorised spending, the Controller can stop the funding for that department.

The Controller function plays a vital role in the integrity and transparency of our public finance system.

The Controller function is how New Zealanders know their tax dollars are being used by the Government to deliver the things Parliament expected and approved.

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