Auditor-General's overview

Public entities’ progress in implementing the Auditor-General’s recommendations 2012.

To assure Parliament and the public about the work of selected parts of the public sector, my Office carries out a range of work to identify how public entities can perform better. We seek to identify good or emerging practices, raise any concerns, and recommend ways that a public entity can perform better, as appropriate.

This progress report looks at how well some public entities have acted on the recommendations that we made in six performance audit reports published in 2009 and 2010. This report is not a full and final assessment.

Public entities are being called on to do more to improve services and to co-ordinate better to avoid duplicating efforts. As the Government and the public sector move towards more co-ordinated approaches, our audit work focuses increasingly on how well public entities work together towards common outcomes. Throughout this report, we see themes about what it takes to work together to achieve effective and efficient results. The main themes are that public entities need to:

  • jointly focus on what they seek to achieve;
  • co-ordinate their efforts; and
  • use information that helps them to understand the costs and results of their decisions.

The experiences of the Department of Internal Affairs in trying to take advantage of the Grants Common Capability Programme and of the National Maritime Control Centre in co-ordinating maritime patrols suggest that there is much for us all to learn.

We encourage public entities to keep making better use of information about the costs and value of services, including analysing trends and using benchmarks. In managing support for students with high special educational needs, the Ministry of Education has improved its understanding of how to collect information about its clients and service delivery. The Ministry has learned that systems that it was piloting worked well for cases with greater investment but were not cost-effective for lesser interventions. The Ministry is considering different frameworks to evaluate these cheaper interventions.

Because of ongoing policy changes, I am not able to form a conclusion about the Ministry of Social Development's case management of sickness and invalids' beneficiaries. However, I consider that good case management is important, and I will come back to this topic in the future.

Looking at the responses to the six reports, I am particularly pleased that public entities that were not directly involved in our audits have used the reports' lessons and recommendations. For example, many city and district councils use our audit framework to assess and strengthen how they forecast demand for drinking water.

I thank the staff of the public entities that are discussed in this report for their co-operation, and encourage them to continue trying to achieve effective and efficient results. I also encourage them to keep working on the matters that are outstanding.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

27 April 2012

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