Auditor-General's overview

Annual report 2017/18.

I am pleased to present my first annual report as the Controller and Auditor-General of New Zealand. It is an honour and a privilege to hold this position.

My seven-year term started on 2 July 2018. This report covers the Office's performance for the year ended 30 June 2018. For all of that year, the Office was led by Greg Schollum, the Deputy Controller and Auditor-General. I thank Greg for his enormous contribution during that time.

I am pleased that I have found an Office in good heart and with a justifiably strong reputation for the quality of its work, both within New Zealand and internationally. The Office has committed and knowledgeable staff who understand the importance of their independence, and who are well led by an experienced and professional leadership team.

Reflections on the year

The ultimate outcome that the Office seeks is that Parliament and New Zealanders have trust and confidence in the public sector. Everything the Office does is directed towards achieving this outcome.

During the year, the Office published its strategic intentions for the next eight years, setting out how it will shape its work to 2025 to contribute even more to a high-performing and trusted public sector. It subsequently produced two internal supporting documents in March of this year. The first of these sets out the shifts in our work required to support the strategic intentions, and the second focuses on how we will develop our capability during the next four years.

The Office has a strong focus on continuously improving its work. This year was no exception. We produced our first "foundation" report, setting the scene for our work on the theme of Water management. The report set out the broad issues we expected would emerge from our work, and that we hoped would help New Zealanders to better understand how the public sector manages water.

Our work to strengthen the contribution our annual audits make towards achieving our strategic intentions has progressed well. We are considering more effective and efficient approaches that will enhance our processes and improve the value of our annual audits.

One of the Office's most valued assets is the quality of its relationships. Results from this year's stakeholder survey confirmed that Parliament greatly values our work in helping select committees hold the public sector to account and provide assurance that public money is spent as Parliament intended. The Office also invests in its relationships with other audit organisations. This year, our work in the Pacific – particularly in Samoa and the Cook Islands – has again helped to strengthen public sector accountability and promote good governance in our wider region.

Looking to the future

Our external environment is changing rapidly. Trust and confidence in governments around the world is eroding and, in this environment, there is no room for complacency in New Zealand.

The Office has a critical role to play in protecting and enhancing the trust that we, as citizens, have in our public sector. This is a small Office, whose resources are carefully targeted to have the maximum impact from the work we do. Our strategy to address the challenges of integrity and public accountability in the early 21st century will create new demands on us. In addition, the Office has increasing demand in its core work to audit public organisations, to review their performance, and to inquire into matters concerning their use of resources.

In this context, we are carefully considering the effectiveness and efficiency of the work we do, the level of resourcing that the Office has, and where a prudent level of further investment might be warranted.


I thank all staff and audit service providers for their work during 2017/18, particularly given the additional pressures this year of auditing the long-term plans and consultation documents for every regional, city, and district council.

This is an Office with many strengths and is one that I am proud to lead. I am committed to ensuring that we meet the challenges and opportunities ahead of us in a fast-changing environment, while continuing to support and enhance trust and confidence in New Zealand's highly regarded public sector.

Signature - JR

John Ryan
Controller and Auditor-General

28 September 2018