Auditor-General's overview

Sport and Recreation New Zealand: Improving how it measures its performance.

Sport and physical recreation is an important part of New Zealand life. During any week, more than three-quarters of adults participate in at least one sport or physical recreation activity. There are an estimated 15,000 clubs and gyms, and 500,000 volunteers in sport and physical recreation.

Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) is the government agency responsible for promoting, encouraging, and supporting sport and physical recreation. It invests more than $70 million for this purpose. Under the Sport and Recreation New Zealand Act 2002, SPARC has 14 functions that support its overarching responsibility (see the Appendix).

My staff carried out preliminary work as part of a performance audit to examine whether SPARC was delivering these 14 functions and how effectively SPARC’s activities contribute to increasing participation in sport and physical recreation.

Overall, SPARC had a range of activities that fulfilled its statutory functions. However, my staff were unable to assess how effectively these activities were contributing to increasing participation because the quality of the information about the relationship between SPARC’s work and its broader outcomes was limited. SPARC had already identified this as an area for improvement. It was establishing a comprehensive performance measurement framework to provide better information about progress in achieving the outcomes it sought. This work was well under way at the time of our audit.

There was little value to be gained from us continuing to examine the effectiveness of SPARC’s activities in increasing participation. Instead, my staff looked at SPARC’s work to improve its performance measurement. Better performance measurement is needed for SPARC to give a complete and accurate account of how it uses public funds, to show how its funding investments contribute to its outcomes, and to be accountable for its performance.

Because SPARC was still introducing its new measurement framework at the time of our audit, it was too early to assess the framework’s effectiveness. However, it was clear that SPARC knew what its information needs were, had thoroughly considered how to meet these information needs, and was setting up systems to provide the information it needed. Because other government agencies may find it useful, this report describes SPARC’s approach to improving its performance measurement.

My staff did not make any recommendations for improvement, but I remain interested in the results of SPARC’s improved measurement framework. Within an appropriate timeframe, I plan to follow up on SPARC’s efforts to improve how it measures its performance.

I thank SPARC’s staff for the information and valuable assistance they provided throughout the audit.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

1 December 2010

page top