Thursday, July 18, 2024

Auditor-General’s strategic intentions presented to House of Reps

The Auditor-General’s strategic intentions to 2028 has been presented to the House of Representatives today.

Controller and Auditor-General, John Ryan said the long-term outcomes his Office seeks are a high-performing and accountable public sector that Parliament and New Zealanders have trust and confidence in.

“The strategic intentions set my focus for the next five years and build on the Auditor-General’s strategic intentions to 2025,” Mr Ryan said.

He said that under the previous strategy, the Office:

  • improved our reporting to Parliament and the public;
  • increased our focus on topics that matter to New Zealanders;
  • delivered more discretionary work at a time when it could have the most impact;
  • increased our reporting from the Controller function;
  • updated and expanded our good practice resources for public organisations;
  • increased our engagement activities and influence with Parliament and with those who lead and govern public organisations; and
  • enhanced the capability of our organisation.

“These are solid foundations, but there is more work for my Office to do to increase our impact,” Mr Ryan said.

“The mandatory audit of the annual financial statements and performance reports of public organisations is the foundation of the work that my Office carries out. My immediate priority is to strengthen this core assurance role to ensure that the public sector audit system remains sustainable over the longer term.”

He said many issues affect the future of the auditing profession, in both the public and private sectors.

“And we must respond to these issues to ensure that our audit work continues to strengthen New Zealand’s public financial management system. In addition, there are still some audits to complete that were deferred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which affected both auditors and public organisations. This must be addressed to ensure that we can normalise public accountability arrangements as quickly as possible.”

“Although strengthening our core assurance role is my first priority, there are other priorities to address through this strategy. We must continue to be seen as an active “watchdog” on the use of public resources. We must remain focused on matters that are important to the public and to the accountability of government for the taxpayer and ratepayer money that they spend.”

The Auditor-General said the public’s trust in the public sector is largely based on the perceived competency, reliability, and honesty of the government.

“We know that the largest impact on trust is whether the public believes that the public sector is honest and operates with integrity. Government should be able to fully account to the public for the money it spends, show what has been delivered for that spending, and say whether that is making a difference to the lives of New Zealanders.”

“We will continue to focus on how well public organisations are meeting the standards of integrity that the public expects, as well as on the quality of reporting that government does on its activities, whether public organisations can evidence good value for money, and whether they are considering the longer term in their planning and decision-making.

“To deliver on our priorities in this strategy, we must continue to build our internal capability and the relationships we have with Parliament, with public organisations, and with the public. Our te ao Māori strategy will be an important part of our capability development, and will also help to ensure that we continue to be trusted by all New Zealanders,” Mr Ryan said.

“These strategic intentions will require us to continue to modernise the way we work and invest in our people, processes, and tools.”

The new strategy has four new strategic priorities:

  • Strengthening our core assurance role: We want to ensure that the public audit system is sustainable in the long term, that we can continue to deliver our high-quality mandatory audit and assurance services, and that we are able to strengthen our in-house audit service provider (Audit New Zealand) and respond to changes affecting the audit profession.
  • Increasing our impact with public organisations: We want to increase our impact with public organisations by influencing positive change in their performance and accountability practices – in particular, focusing on matters of performance reporting, integrity, value for money, and taking a long-term view.
  • Enhancing our impact in te ao Māori: We want to continue to build trust and confidence among Māori in our role, and for our work to have increased relevance to, and impact for, Māori.
  • Building on our reputation as a source of trusted information: We want to build on our reputation as a source of trusted information about public sector performance and accountability, which the public and Parliament can use to help hold public organisations to account.

“Each section outlines the change I want to see over the next five years. We will develop specific performance measures aligned to these strategic intentions to allow Parliament and the public to monitor our Office’s progress,” the Auditor-General said.

The strategic intentions document is available to read here.

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