Auditor-General's overview

Annual Plan 2014/15.

I am pleased to submit this Annual Plan for 2014/15.

My Office plays an important role in promoting transparency and accountability in our society. We aim to have a positive effect on society's trust in government by carrying out work that is credible and of high quality.

My annual plan describes my priorities and the work that would be useful, based on our knowledge of the public sector and its strengths, challenges, and issues. In 2014/15 we will focus on Governance and accountability, the third theme in a five-year programme based on annual themes. We are taking a multi-year approach to planning our work for two main reasons.

The first is to make the most efficient use of the Office's resources. Our audit and reporting work involves examining large amounts of information from the entire public sector. About 87% of our effort each year is spent on carrying out the annual audits of public entities. A big-picture theme helps us draw together findings and insights from auditing this wide range of entities.

We are also taking a themed approach to get the greatest effect from our audit work. When we signal topics that we intend to focus on in future, many public entities begin to improve and strengthen these areas without us needing to carry out detailed audit work.

Our annual themes are:

  • 2012/13 – Our future needs – is the public sector ready?;
  • 2013/14 – Service delivery;
  • 2014/15 – Governance and accountability;
  • 2015/16 – Investment and asset management; and
  • 2016/17 – Information.

We have chosen Governance and accountability as our theme in 2014/15 for two main reasons:

  • Several recent changes to financial reporting and public sector accountability legislation take effect on 1 July 2014. Supporting and reporting on the effective implementation of these changes will be a major commitment for my Office.
  • Changes in entity governance arising from ongoing fiscal constraint, a strong focus on better public sector performance, and structural changes are resulting in a growing awareness of the need for high-quality governance. To anticipate and respond to these changes, those responsible for the governance of entities need to take a wide view and invest in information, capability, and systems to help decision-making.

The Appendix describes the reports and studies we plan to work on for each theme. Although each year's theme is the primary focus for that year, we build knowledge about each theme, and carry out work towards them, over several years. The programme for the years beyond 2014/15 is indicative and will be developed further, including through consultation with Parliament on each year's annual plan.

Consultation with Parliament

Consultation with Parliament helps me to ensure that the work we do in addition to our annual audit work will be relevant and useful to Parliament, public entities, and the public. It is an important way in which I can continue to ensure that the work of my Office remains relevant and responsive to the needs of my key stakeholders – Parliament and the public.

I consulted the Speaker and select committees about my proposed work programme and I thank them all for their consideration. We received feedback from the Finance and Expenditure Committee and the Commerce Committee. We have taken account of this feedback in our final annual plan, although we have not made specific amendments.

The Commerce Committee suggested that we commence work on information systems, data quality, and changes in information management during 2014/15 and 2015/16, reflecting the importance of assurance about the significant government IT projects that are under way. The Appendix identifies a three-year focus on the Inland Revenue Department's business transformation project, which will provide foundation work for our 2016/17 theme. We will consider work that can be carried out toward this theme in 2015/16 as part of developing our annual plan for that year.

The Finance and Expenditure Committee suggested that we give some attention to Crown Research Institutes (CRIs). We are conscious of the importance of CRIs. In February, we presented our report Maintaining a future focus in governing Crown-owned companies, which included CRIs in the entities considered. We note that, together with producing that report, other work in our governance and accountability programme will be relevant to CRIs (such as our work on audit committees in the public sector).

Concluding comments

My staff and audit service providers will continue to strive for reports that contribute positively to more effective and efficient use of public resources. They have the support and confidence of the Deputy Controller and Auditor-General and myself.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

20 June 2014

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