Transcript: Sensitive expenditure: Transparency

Transcript for a video about the importance of transparency when it comes to sensitive expenditure.

Title: Office of the Auditor-General logo

Title: Sensitive expenditure: Transparency

John Ryan, Auditor-General

I’m concerned in my role in terms of public trust and confidence in the public sector. That’s driven by three key things:

  • Firstly, competence – do we do the job that we’re sent there to do?
  • Secondly, reliability – do we do that job consistently and reliably over time?
  • And lastly, and most importantly, are we seen as honest?

Underpinning all of those things is transparency.  Transparency for our actions and transparency how we spend public money. When we talk about transparency – in terms of sensitive expenditure – there is a range of issues that could arise and we’ve done queries and investigations into things where they’ve gone wrong and I think it’s really important that agencies and individuals act – particularly with sensitive expenditure – with the highest level of honesty and integrity.

So, to get transparent around that, well the first thing is to have good policies - to be clear on what is and isn’t sensitive expenditure. How those pieces of expenditure are improved, how the authority for that is set out.

So, a good policy framework is great protection against inappropriate expenditure. The second thing is actually being really clear on sensitive expenditure that you are approving. So is there good documentation behind it? Are there really valid reasons for that expenditure? Can you distinguish where there might be personal benefit and has it been dealt with?

And lastly and certainly the most obvious in terms of transparency, is about what do we do with the information about the sensitive expenditure that we’ve incurred. So, do we make that public? Are we following the public services commission’s guidance around chief cxecutive expenditure? Should that apply to our agency and how do we make transparent the use of public money generally but in terms of expenditure particularly by senior employees? It’s a really good question for each agency to turn its mind to and work out in their case what’s appropriate and how they shine light on what could be seen as sensitive expenditure by the public.

So really, a good policy framework, robust documentation and support for expenditure and finally transparency of the actual spend. They’re the things I think keep you safe around sensitive expenditure and in which will give the public confidence that we are acting in their best interests and with honesty and integrity at the heart of those actions.

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