Auditor-General's overview

Annual Plan 2016/17.

I am pleased to submit this Annual Plan for 2016/17.

My Office plays an important part in strengthening accountability, integrity, and transparency in the public sector. By carrying out work that is credible and of high quality, we aim to improve the performance of, and the public's trust in, the public sector.

Most of my Office's work (about 87%) comprises the annual audit of approximately 3700 public entities and is required by law. Our annual audit work gives us direct interaction with, and insight into, how the public sector is operating. We use this unique view of the entire public sector to inform our wider work. Each year, we extract even greater value from this information by applying a theme across our work, and by signalling future themes.

My 2016/17 work programme will be the fifth in our multi-year themed work programme. Our previous themes were:

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

I am now pleased to confirm that the theme for 2016/17 is Information.

Our 2016/17 Information theme reflects the increasing importance of information to the effective and efficient delivery of public services now and in the future. Under this theme, we will examine aspects of how well the public sector is:

  • managing and making use of information it collects or generates to inform the effective and efficient delivery of public services;
  • deploying technology to enable accessible services that meet the changing needs of New Zealanders; and
  • managing security and privacy requirements so that the information it collects is suitably protected.

This year's work programme describes the priorities and the work that we consider would be useful, based on our knowledge of the challenges, emerging issues, and trends in the public sector.

The performance audits and other work we propose to carry out under the Information theme are described in Part 3. The Appendix provides an overview of our five-year work programme. Each year's theme is the focus of our work for that year, but some larger pieces of work carry over into other years. The programme for the years beyond 2016/17 is indicative only and is still being explored and developed.

We are currently exploring the content of our proposed themes for:

  • 2017/18 – Water; and
  • 2018/19 – Sustainable development.

Each year, we draw together the findings and insights from our themed work into an overview or reflections report. We use this to encourage debate, challenge and expand thinking, and identify and highlight examples of good or poor practice to help improve public sector performance. My reflections report on the 2014/15 theme Governance and accountability was published in April 2016.

Feedback from Parliament

Consultation with Parliament helps me to ensure that my Office's work is relevant and useful to Parliament, public entities and the public. It is an important way in which I can ensure that the work of my Office remains responsive to the needs of our key stakeholders.

I consulted the Speaker and select committees about my proposed work programme for 2016/17, and I thank them all for their consideration.

The Finance and Expenditure Committee (FEC) formalised its feedback and that of other select committees in a report to the House. In its report, the FEC endorsed our Information theme for 2016/17 and asked us to consider an additional piece of work examining how the Overseas Investment Office collects and manages information relevant to decision-makers. I have decided to include work on the Overseas Investment Office in our 2016/17 work programme. I have also decided to defer the work on monitoring of tertiary education organisations (which had been proposed in my Draft Annual Plan) to 2017/18 after the Tertiary Education Reviews have been completed. This will mean that my Office has the capacity to carry out the requested work on the Overseas Investment Office.

The FEC also conveyed to us comments from the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, the Government Administration Committee, the Health Committee, and the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee. These committees indicated their support for our 2016/17 Information theme and for various topics in the proposed work programme.

Concluding comments

I thank all my staff and audit service providers who have contributed to the development of this Annual Plan. This is my final Annual Plan as the Controller and Auditor-General of New Zealand. As part of this plan will be carried out beyond the end of my term, I wish my staff, and my successor who will oversee its implementation in 2017, well in their work.

I am confident that this plan will enable my Office to focus its resources on work that will have the most effect in providing assurance to Parliament, public entities, and the public about the use of public resources and powers.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

27 June 2016