Auditor-General's overview and strategic direction

Statement of Intent 2010-13.

I am pleased to submit this Statement of Intent 2010–13 for the Office of the Auditor-General.

There is no question that the Auditor-General's role and vision to improve public sector performance are of heightened importance to New Zealand at present.

While most Kiwi households have managed to ride out the global recession, there has been a major, lasting effect on core government. Public revenue is down, and we are experiencing a level of national debt similar to the 1980s that will probably see the country's Budget in deficit for all of my term as Auditor-General. There will be continuing pressure on the public sector to do more with the same or less, greater concern about performance and value for money, and a stronger focus on safeguarding public assets and services.

International demands for changes to auditing and accounting standards and the mobility of the audit workforce continue to affect us as part of the international audit community, and we have major new challenges at home such as providing audit assurance over the amalgamation of eight local authorities into a single Auckland "super" council.

As a result, our Office – which includes the Office of the Auditor-General, Audit New Zealand, and all of the audit service providers who carry out audits on my behalf – will be expected to:

  • pursue avenues to improve the public sector while maintaining independence;
  • improve the flow and analysis of the collective knowledge held by my Office; and
  • provide assurance about the soundness of management decisions in the public sector.

All of the Auditor-General's resources will need to work together even more effectively for the Office to provide the assurance, guidance, and leadership that will help to ensure that public money is used wisely.

Our strategy

In this context, the Office's current strategy is on the right track for the next two to three years. We will continue to build our own capability and to work on our three main strategic objectives to:

  • better understand public entities;
  • better use the full range of our resources; and
  • better customise our reporting.

However, there will be some changes of emphasis so that we fully use the five aspects of the legislative audit model (authority, waste, probity, performance, and accountability) to report on matters that will help to improve public sector performance.

For the duration of my term as Auditor-General, I expect the Office to maintain high quality work, independence, and good relationships based on respect by:

  • listening to and knowing our clients, our stakeholders, and the public sector so that we understand their expectations and the context for our work, and know the effect of our work;
  • building our individual and collective expertise, experience, and judgement so that we can strengthen our contribution to improving public sector performance;
  • working together (internally and externally) to integrate and focus our knowledge so that we get and give the most value from what we know and have an effect on the big issues; and
  • adapting our ways of working to get results out when the matter is current and in a form suiting the audience so that our work has the best chance of having a positive influence.

Concluding comments

I do not underestimate the effect of changing emphasis and adding new work and complexity on top of doing better with what we have. The Office already has challenging roles and our level of commitment to doing a good job is high. I am confident that this approach will enable us to build on our good reputation and that we will be known for:

  • providing expert and regular assurance on the activities and financial performance of public entities;
  • improving public management;
  • our expertise in public management and auditing;
  • meeting expectations; and
  • knowing the effect of our work.

I thank the Speaker and the Finance and Expenditure Committee for the feedback they provided on our draft Statement of Intent, which has been taken into consideration in preparing this final Statement of Intent.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

5 May 2010

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