Part 4: Organisational capability

Annual plan 2009/10.

The sum of all things that enable an organisation to deliver its outputs

Our people

We rely entirely on our people and their collective skills, experience, knowledge and culture to deliver the outputs mandated by our governing legislation. It is absolutely essential that we recruit, train, develop, and retain the best people so that our work meets and exceeds the very high standards we set.

Many of our auditors start their career in the Office as a graduate. We visit most universities in New Zealand every year, seeking high quality accounting students in their third or final year of study. We put all graduate candidates through an extensive evaluation process, and those that meet our demanding requirements are offered internships or graduate roles. In 2009/10 we expect to recruit 20 to 25 graduates, many of whom will have already completed an internship with us.

We aim to fill many of our more senior roles internally. We have several programmes in place to develop and prepare our people for their next career steps, and seek to provide opportunities for those who are ready. We also recruit highly experienced people for senior roles. When recruiting, we seek candidates from overseas as well as from the public and private sectors in New Zealand. When evaluating candidates we are careful to select people who not only have the required expertise, but also have a strong affinity with the core ethical and public service values of the Office.

We expect that the global and local economic downturn will result in lower turnover of staff in 2009/10, leading to fewer people being recruited than in recent years. However, we consider that there will be greater interest in the roles that we do seek to fill and that staff retention rates increase. This should assist us to improve in areas of stakeholder feedback such as the knowledge, skills, and consistency of audit teams.

We consider it an important aspect of the Office’s role to strive for very high standards of both professional and leadership skills. So although turnover may be lower, we intend to retain our investment in the training and development of our people in 2009/10, continuing our focus on each individual’s needs and on our leadership development programmes.

In 2009/10, we will also continue to work on improving the level of engagement of our people, as measured by our annual staff survey; and on developing other skills identified in our competency frameworks.

Business practices

We have an extensive quality assurance programme for all our products, with measures that reflect this set out in our forecast statement of service performance. We also carry out monitoring/evaluation as follows:

  • half of the select committees and other key stakeholders are canvassed each year to seek their views on how the Office is operating;
  • an annual independent review of our processes to confirm the probity and objectivity of the methods and systems we use to allocate and tender audits, and monitor the reasonableness of audit fees;
  • a client satisfaction survey of selected public entities;
  • independent external reviews of two performance audits to confirm the quality of the reports; and
  • every second year the Australian National Audit Office reviews our processes for performance audits.

In addition, KPMG carries out the internal audit function on behalf of the Office. The annual internal audit programme is agreed with our independent Audit and Risk Committee. In 2009/10, internal audit will include coverage of:

  • our Information Technology infrastructure, security, and support;
  • our financial budgeting and forecasting process;
  • compliance with the Office’s good practice guides; and
  • our professional indemnity insurance arrangements.

Based on our own assessments and on previous review findings, we intend to work on the following particular improvements in 2009/10:

  • complete the review of all our internal policies, aligning them to current good practice;
  • improve our management of information and knowledge, and the sharing of these assets among all our people;
  • further increase our focus on the management of the Office’s and our people’s independence;
  • improve compliance with the Public Records Act 2005 and the management of vital records; and
  • complete the implementation of new systems for financial management and reporting.

Facilities and equipment

In July 2009, we will be relocating the staff of the OAG and our shared corporate services staff (about half of our Wellington staff) to a single floor in another building. For the last few years, our 220 Wellington-based staff have been located on seven floors and in two buildings, significantly restricting the extent to which collaboration and sharing of ideas can naturally occur. Moving our OAG and corporate services staff will reduce our Wellington accommodation to three floors in two buildings.

In 2008/09, we started a project to understand our medium-term to long-term property needs. The work identified the advantages of co-locating our OAG and Audit New Zealand Wellington staff. It is likely that our Audit New Zealand Wellington operation will need to vacate its premises in 2013. In 2009/10, we plan to continue project work on our medium-term to long-term property needs, and expect to complete a business case for consideration by Parliament in due course.

The Office’s other facilities, including Audit New Zealand’s other offices, continue to meet the needs of the organisation.

Information systems

We rely on information technology to complete our work. To ensure an effective, efficient, and customer-focused service, our audit staff working in the field use specialist auditing and remote access and communications tools. In the OAG, the audit status database (ASD) system is used to manage the allocation, tracking, and reporting of the 4000 or so audits carried out annually by appointed auditors from about 50 chartered accounting firms. Corporate services staff are responsible for the core financial, time and cost, document and records management, publishing and communications, and human resources systems that underpin the Office’s operation.

In 2009/10, we will:

  • Complete the implementation of an integrated financial management information system. The anticipated benefits of the system include improved controls, improved management information, and reduced administrative overhead.
  • Begin the process of implementing an Electronic Document and Records Management System throughout the Office. Having one common system for the whole organisation is expected to reduce cost, increase the ability to share and collaborate, reduce risks associated with inadequate management of records and documents, and improve our compliance with the Public Records Act 2005.
  • Continue to enhance the ASD system to improve data quality and widen access to information and functions so that the timeliness and accuracy of audit information is increased.
  • Improve our systems’ “disaster recovery” capability, to allow the Office to restore normal operations more quickly should an event disrupt operations at our Wellington offices.
  • Continue a programme of rolling maintenance and enhancements to ensure that our information systems remain contemporary, and to take advantage of advances in technology where appropriate.
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